(NYT) Trapped in a Pandemic Funk: Millions of Americans Can’t Shake a Gloomy Outlook

Mr. Biden came into office vowing to “build back better.” But voters said little was getting built as Democrats fight over multitrillion-dollar measures to strengthen the country’s social safety net and improve physical infrastructure. Normal life was not back, and might never be. And voters said so many things just felt worse.

It is not just the federal government they blame. Trash is piling up on city streets because of a dearth of garbage haulers. School bus services are being canceled and delayed for want of drivers. Americans who have been hurt economically by the pandemic are still struggling to get rental assistance and unemployment benefits, sometimes months after applying.

“Our political system — it’s almost completely a failure,” said Carla Haney, a 65-year-old swimming instructor who has yet to receive about 14 weeks of unemployment benefits from the State of Florida that she applied for in May 2020. “I don’t see it getting better at all.”

With the global supply chain gummed up, voters around the Phoenix metro area said they were paying the price in lost money and wasted time. A restaurant chef in Phoenix is once again struggling to buy paper plates and napkins. A plumbing supplier in Tempe is losing commissions because he cannot fill orders.

And at gas stations across the country, drivers cringe at paying an average of $3.40 a gallon — prices that have risen by more than $1 a gallon from a year ago.

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