The White House plans to deploy its messaging blitz to tout the newly passed $1.9 trillion Covid relief plan to “every corner” of the country in the weeks ahead, zeroing in on key components each day as it seeks to maintain – or build on – the proposal’s current popularity, according to an internal memo obtained by CNN.
“We’re going to carry that message to every corner of our country through travel, local press and direct engagement in communities with the President, the vice president, the first lady, the second gentleman, Cabinet members and top officials from throughout the administration,” White House deputy chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon said in the memo to senior staff.
For 10 days, administration officials will focus on one element of the sweeping bill per day, ranging from the stimulus checks and emergency unemployment insurance extensions, to vaccine distribution and reopening schools, O’Malley Dillon wrote.
President Joe Biden is slated to give a his first primetime address to the country on Thursday night and is expected to sign the bill into law on Friday. It will mark the cornerstone legislative achievement of his opening weeks in office – something he and his senior advisers have long viewed as a backbone element of their effort to not only manage but defeat the dual economic and public health crises confronting the country.
“Everything in the American Rescue Plan addresses a real need, including investments to fund our entire vaccination effort: More vaccines, more vaccinators, and more vaccination sites. Millions more Americans will get tested, including home testing. Schools will soon have the funding and resources to reopen safely, a national imperative,” Biden said during a White House event alongside the CEOs of Johnson & Johnson and Merck.
The bill’s passage, he said, “proves we can do big things, important things in this country.”
Biden and his top advisers view a robust messaging push around the law a necessity, citing lessons learned from President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus law, which became mired in opposition as it was deployed. Biden will take his first trip to sell the new law to Pennsylvania on March 16, the White House announced Wednesday.
Biden, who was Obama’s point person on that law, has specifically cited the lack of focus in talking about that law’s merits as a failure.
The White House is also planning to have surrogates and administration officials on local TV around the country and will utilize the hundreds of mayors and governors who supported the plan, along with tapping into support of organized labor and the business community.
“We’re going to make sure the American people know tangibly what the Rescue Plan means for them,” O’Malley Dillon wrote in the memo.
But administration officials acknowledge that salesmanship won’t be enough in the weeks ahead. The law actually needs to work as drafted.
“We’re going to move as quickly as possible to get direct relief out the door and into the hands of the American people,” O’Malley Dillon wrote.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday Biden would name a point person who would lead the efforts across the federal government to implement a plan that includes stimulus checks, expanded child and earned income tax credits, and hundreds of billions of dollars for vaccine distribution, a national testing plan and schools.
“The implementation of the Rescue Plan is going to be an all-hands-on-deck effort across the administration,” O’Malley Dillon writes in the memo.