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Biden Backs Compromise to Achieve His Vast Social Agenda

Outside the White House on Wednesday, five young climate change activists began a hunger strike to protest what they described as Mr. Biden’s capitulation to demands to back away from ambitious clean energy plans.

“I think we all feel pretty desperate,” said Abby Leedy, 20, who had traveled from Philadelphia.

She said young people, many of whom went door-to-door to help elect Mr. Biden, are now disappointed in him.

“A lot of young people worked hard to elect Joe Biden because he did make promises. He said that he would be a climate champion, that if we elected him he would do everything he could to solve the climate crisis,” Ms. Leedy said. “I think what’s happening right now is he’s going back on his climate promises.”

Mr. Biden’s top advisers are betting that the anger and frustration felt by those who do not get everything they want will quickly fade. Aides said they expect Democratic lawmakers — progressives and moderates alike — and activists to embrace the compromise legislation once it passes.

To that end, Mr. Biden has been acting as a cheerleader, a sounding board and, increasingly, a prod for holdout Democrats, spending hours in the Oval Office and its adjoining private dining room, meeting with key lawmakers and cajoling others on the phone.

In his meetings with lawmakers, Mr. Biden has stressed the political peril he and his party face if his agenda falls flat in Congress. He frequently extols the potential benefits to American workers and families, and opinion polls suggest strong nationwide popularity for his spending and tax plans. He has pushed for lawmakers’ support but not threatened to break off talks.

Mr. Biden’s efforts have been hampered, some administration officials concede privately, by his own falling poll numbers, which slumped this summer as the United States suffered another wave of Covid-19 infections and deaths and the administration staged a chaotic troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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