(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden is seizing on the debt limit deal he negotiated as an opening argument for reelection, though he faces a tough sell with voters who are skeptical of his performance in office.

The agreement mitigated proposed Republican cuts to anti-poverty benefits, reduced government spending far less than the GOP demanded, maintained Biden’s first-term legislative victories — the Inflation Reduction Act, the bipartisan infrastructure plan and the Chips Act — and pushed the next debt ceiling episode until 2025, after the presidential election. 

The deal is the latest in a streak of Biden exceeding expectations, including Democrats’ outperformance in last November’s midterm elections where they gained a seat in the US Senate and only narrowly lost the House. Yet polls show that Americans have mostly yawned at Biden’s accomplishments.

On Friday evening, in his first public address from the Oval Office, ostensibly to speak about passage of the debt ceiling bill, Biden listed the agreement alongside those other legislative accomplishments.

The address doubled as a campaign speech with the president ticking off many of his election promises, including closing special interest loopholes for the wealthy, the oil industry and cryptocurrency investors among others. 

“Republicans defended every single one of these special interest loopholes. Every single one. But I’m going to be coming back and with your help I’m going to win,” Biden said from behind the Resolute Desk. 

Biden also revisited themes from his 2020 presidential campaign of American unity, bipartisanship and championing democracy. 

Read more: Biden Lauds Debt Deal With GOP: ‘We Averted an Economic Crisis’

Polls though show Americans’ approval of Biden is at the lowest point of his presidency.

He delivered the speech before even signing the bill, revealing the pressure the White House is under to tout its accomplishments and energize a Democratic base with the 2024 presidential cycle underway. 

“It won’t be that those voters will suddenly go vote Republican. It will be that those voters are going to face a choice between staying home or showing up to vote,” said Jay Townsend, a bipartisan political consultant. 

Biden’s job approval rating was at 40% in a May 31 Economist/YouGov poll. Only 79% of those who voted for him in 2020 approve of his White House performance and just 75% of Democrats approve.

Progressive Grumbling

The agreement is projected to cut federal deficits by about $1.5 trillion over a decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

It caps funding for defense and domestic programs for two years, while easing permit rules for some energy and infrastructure projects and claws back some funding for Internal Revenue Service agents and Covid-19 relief.

The president has had to navigate grumbling from the progressive flank of his party who have expressed disappointment that he conceded some climate measures to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, namely approval of a natural gas pipeline through West Virginia. 

The deal would apply work requirements for those receiving welfare benefits up to the age of 54 instead of 49, as under current law. The Congressional Budget Office though projected 78,000 more people, including veterans and the homeless, would be eligible.

More than 30 members of the House Progressive Caucus, including its chair Representative Pramila Jayapal, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Representative Ro Khanna, a member of Biden’s reelection advisory board, voted against the bill. 

The NAACP, the civil rights group, on Friday issued a statement saying the bill “misses the mark for Black America.”

“If there is a need to increase the debt ceiling we also need to make sure that we don’t put all the burden on African Americans and middle class individuals,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a Friday interview with Bloomberg Television. 

Johnson cast Biden as being forced to negotiate and sign the bill because of Republican demands that put at risk the US economy. 

Black voters are largely credited with delivering the White House to Biden in the 2020 presidential election against President Donald Trump, who surveys show is the current frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination. A recent Washington Post and ABC News poll showed Biden losing in a hypothetical match-up with Trump.

“I didn’t have to hold my nose at all,” US Representative Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat and longtime Biden ally, said in a Thursday interview on Bloomberg Television about the debt deal. “I’m very pleased with what the end product is.”

Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster who worked on both Barack Obama campaigns, said the budget outcomes will only become a problem for Democrats if their opponents put “real dollars behind making it an issue.”

“In the end, are progressives going to move away from Biden in such a large upcoming election, and hand the country to Donald Trump? I think it’s not probable.”

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