This week in politics: Biden resists bailout tag; Helping Ukraine divides GOP; U.S. could ban TikTok

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Whatever you do, don't call it a bank bailout.

Americans gripped their wallets this week when the now-shuttered Silicon Valley Bank announced they had suffered $1.8 billion in after-tax losses.

The White House worked feverishly to avoid comparisons to the financial crisis of 2008 and any mention of the b-word, as President Joe Biden defended his administration's actions to rescue depositors.

And as USA TODAY exclusively reported Friday, both the Democratic National Committee and the president's 2020 campaign pledged to return roughly $44,000 in donations tied to SVB executives.

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Elsewhere, the 2024 campaign saw an intriguing wrinkle emerge on the GOP side as Ukraine is increasingly becoming the dividing line for presidential hopefuls.

Republicans traditionally have been the party known to oppose Russian aggression, but a more skeptical wing has emerged thanks largely to former President Donald Trump.

TikTok remains at the forefront of U.S. leaders minds as the Biden administration is looking to pick a fight with the social media giant.

What happened this week in politics?

  • The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank struck a nerve in Washington and on Wall Street as Biden avoids calling his administration's actions a bailout

  • U.S. military aid to Ukraine is emerging as one of the first and most critical differences among the current and potential pool of GOP presidential candidates.

  • The Biden administration is threatening to ban TikTok if its Chinese owners don't sell their stake in the video-sharing app.

  • Off-year elections in three states could give Republicans a boost or offer Democrats some much-needed lessons ahead of 2024.

  • Black voters are the most loyal voting bloc for Democrats, and a survey given exclusively to USA TODAY sheds light on what their top priorities are.

White House: 'This is not a bailout'

The Biden administration helped SVB depositors by using bank premiums and interest earned on funds invested in U.S. government obligations.

They argue this is not akin to the time Congress purchased failing assets of big banks and other financial institutions because taxpayers aren't on the hook.

Money: SVB fallout. Yellen tells Congress that banking system 'remains sound,' savings 'remain safe'

More: Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank executives gave thousands to Democrats and Republicans

"This is not a bailout," White house press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. "This is not 2008 at all."

But liberal commentator Paul Krugman, an economist, gave Biden the side-eye. He said where the money comes from "doesn’t change the reality" that the government rescued depositors when it shouldn't have.

"Yes, it was a bailout," Krugman said.

Ukraine splits GOP 2024 hopefuls

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis isn't a presidential candidate yet, but he put a spotlight on a growing chasm in the possible Republican 2024 presidential primary field.

"The Biden administration’s virtual 'blank check' funding of this conflict for 'as long as it takes,' without any defined objectives or accountability, distracts from our country’s most pressing challenges," DeSantis said in a statement this week.

Helping Ukraine in its war against Russia is becoming a dividing line among the GOP.

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More: Trump's blistering attacks on Gov. Ron DeSantis continue. Will he ever hit back?

You have DeSantis and others, such as Sen. Tim Scott, on one side voicing skepticism about the growing cost. Likewise, Trump has said Europe should foot more of the bill pay toward Ukraine defense (and remit past differences to the U.S.).

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Others, like South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, pivot to say China is the bigger threat.

The traditional GOP hawks, namely former Vice President Mike Pence and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is running for president, argue the U.S. must stand firm in its support to Ukraine.

Dems, GOP eager for 'off-year' races

Most voters won't have an election in 2023, but the statewide races in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi cannot be overlooked.

The latter two favor Republicans, according to political forecasters which could mark a momentum shift after a midterm election that failed to deliver the sweeping majorities the GOP had hoped to attain.

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But Democrats aren't letting the "off-year" elections go without a fight as they brace for a tough Senate map in 2024.

There best bet is Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat who holds an unusually strong popularity rating in state Trump won decisively in 2020.

Democrats also openly suggest Mississippi could be an upset given Republican incumbent Tate Reeves's low approval numbers, but GOP officials say that is a "mirage."

What do Black voters want?

If Biden and the Democrats want to make it through 2024 they might want to pay close attention to what their most loyal base.

WASHINGTON, DC: Voting Rights activists, led by U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) (C), stage a protest on Capitol Hill, July 15, 2021 (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC: Voting Rights activists, led by U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) (C), stage a protest on Capitol Hill, July 15, 2021 (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In a survey of Black voters shared exclusively with USA TODAY, Black to the Future Action Fund and HIT Strategies found 44% said gun control legislation was a top priority.

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But what's most telling is the question of crime and public safety, which continues to be a wedge issue for Republicans.

The poll found 35% of Black voters want to shift funding for police to preventative measures like mental health support and social work. Just 20% wanted to increase police funding to reduce crime.

TikTok ban gaining momentum

One of the few areas of bipartisanship between U.S. officials this year has been cracking down on TikTok.

A growing concern is that the Chinese-owned app—downloaded by more than 100 million people in America—is being used by spy on private user data and spread misinformation.

Tech: TikTok says Biden administration is threatening US ban if Chinese owners don't sell stakes

More: Don't ban TikTok from Americans' phones, says NH governor and possible 2024 GOP candidate

The White House joined that chorus Wednesday when it reportedly threatened a total ban if its owners don't sell their stakes in the company.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu takes part in a panel discussion during a Republican Governors Association conference on Nov. 15, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu takes part in a panel discussion during a Republican Governors Association conference on Nov. 15, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.

But some U.S. leaders aren't sure blocking TikTok is the best idea.

"The app should not be banned in the United States," New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a potential 2024 president contender, told USA TODAY.

By the way, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will testify before Congress next week.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Did Biden bailout SVB?; Ukraine divides GOP field; U.S. may ban TikTok