President Joe Biden on Thursday insisted that America’s allies “do not think” that the United States is backsliding, despite a recent spate of mass shootings, record inflation and widespread public dissatisfaction with the direction of the country.
Instead, Biden argued that the “outrageous behavior” of the Supreme Court — which last Friday overturned Roe v. Wade and revoked the constitutional right to abortion — is “the one thing that has been destabilizing” for the United States.
Taking reporters’ questions during a news conference at the conclusion of the NATO summit in Madrid, Biden asserted that international observers “haven’t found one person, one world leader to say America is going backwards.”
“America is better positioned to lead the world than we ever have been,” Biden said. “We have the strongest economy in the world. Our inflation rates are lower than other nations in the world.”
Apart from the Supreme Court’s decision “essentially challenging the right to privacy,” the United States has “been a leader in the world in terms of personal rights and privacy rights,” Biden said. “And it is a mistake, in my view, for the Supreme Court to do what it did.”
Biden went on to claim that he had “not seen anyone come up to me to [say] anything other than … ‘Thank you for America’s leadership. You’ve changed the dynamic of NATO and the G-7.’”
Although Biden maintained that his foreign counterparts were not critical of the United States to him personally, the Supreme Court’s decision to undo decades of precedent protecting nationwide abortion access has indeed prompted disapproval from several world leaders.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the court’s decision as a “big step backward” that “clearly … has massive impacts on people’s thinking around the world.” French President Emmanuel Macron conveyed “solidarity with the women whose liberties are being undermined” by the court. And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the reversal of Roe “horrific.”
Leaders from Belgium, Germany, Greece and Luxembourg similarly expressed dismay over the decision. POLITICO also reported that during a dinner this week on the sidelines of the NATO summit, attended by foreign ministers from the alliance’s 30 member states, at least four diplomats aired concerns about the Supreme Court’s decision.
At his news conference in Madrid, Biden said he “can understand why the American people are frustrated because of what the Supreme Court did … [and] because of inflation.”
“But inflation is higher in almost every other country,” Biden continued. “Prices at the pump are higher in almost every other country. We’re better positioned to deal with this than anyone.”
Still, Biden acknowledged that “we have a way to go … [and] we have to change [the Supreme Court’s] decision by codifying Roe v. Wade.”
Biden’s remarks about the court drew a swift rebuke from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who said that calling for a filibuster carveout in response to the overturning of Roe was “below the dignity of the president” and “dangerous.”
“He’s upset that the Court said the people, through their elected representatives, will have a say on abortion policy,” McConnell said in a statement. “That does not destabilize democracy — it affirms it. By contrast, it is behavior like the President’s that undermines equal justice and the rule of law.”
McConnell further suggested that Biden needed to “take a look in the mirror” and blamed him for domestic inflation, high gas prices, crime and a surge in migration on the border. “No amount of blame shifting on the global stage will change that,” he said.
Later in his remarks, Biden officially endorsed a change to Senate filibuster rules that would allow a simple majority of the chamber’s lawmakers to federally protect access to abortion.
“If the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights — it should be, ‘We provide an exception for this,’” Biden said. “Require an exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision.”
Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.