Assessment of Biden’s handling of major challenges facing Americans, including Covid-19 and the economy
US President Joe Biden has arrived facing extraordinary challenges: a nation divided after the Donald Trump years, the Covid pandemic and a tumultuous economy.
And he promised Americans a lot: to heal the country’s democracy, defeat Covid, tackle deep-rooted racial and economic issues, and restore America’s standing in the world.
How did he do it?
– Covid19 –
Biden got off to a good start with a vaccine rollout that contrasted with the often muddled policies of Trump, who tried to downplay the severity of the pandemic despite overseeing rapid vaccine development.
Seemingly lulled into a false sense of security, Biden declared July 4 as Independence Day from the virus. The delta variant hit that summer, reversing the downward trends of the spring and by the time the omicron variant took over in December, Biden took the blame.
At the start of the administration, 69% of Americans approved of Biden’s Covid policies. Today it is 46%.
In conservative parts of the country, attempts by the Biden administration to impose vaccination mandates sparked fierce political opposition and on Thursday the Supreme Court overruled its attempt to impose vaccinations on big business.
– Economic rescue –
The Biden administration credits the passage of the $1.9 trillion US bailout with saving the economy from a downward spiral, with mass unemployment and recession.
Biden also signed into law a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package to fix bridges, roads, internet connections and more. It was achieved with Republican support and it was something Trump had long promised but failed to deliver.
However, an even bigger package of climate and social spending, the $1.7 trillion Build Back Better bill, died in the Senate after Biden proved unable to persuade a stubbornly opposed Democratic senator, Joe Manchin, to to vote for. With a majority of just one in the Senate, that meant shelving the bill.
Stock indexes and job growth hit record highs in 2021, with a respectable 3.9% unemployment rate. However, at the same time, Biden is presiding over shocking inflation – a record 7% in December annual figures.
For months, Biden’s economic advisers have claimed inflation would just be a jolt but, like the pandemic that is driving these distorted prices, it has stalled.
– Democracy and social change –
A natural centrist, Biden has struggled to satisfy his party’s left wing or the pressing demands of major electoral groups, especially African Americans.
His frequent vows to change America’s reliance on guns and institute reforms to prevent police brutality meet with little success.
His landmark suffrage reforms, designed to end discrimination against black people and suppress participation, foundered in the Senate, again due to opposition from just two Democrats. Having such a thin margin in Congress jeopardizes almost all presidential ambitions.
On the larger issue of healing the country’s political divisions, Biden also gets a low mark — though it’s not entirely his fault.
Biden promised to unite Americans in his inaugural speech, leaving behind Trump’s unprecedented divisive style, which included inciting hatred against migrants, journalists and other opponents at constant mass rallies. .
But with Trump’s ideology now dominating the entire Republican Party and the real estate mogul likely to seek re-election in 2024, Biden is more drawn to his own left-wing base. Support from independents, that elusive middle ground, is dwindling.
– America is back –
“America is back,” the Biden administration loudly told the world on day one.
In many ways it has been. Biden has put the United States back in the Paris climate accord and the multinational bid to control Iran’s nuclear capability.
He moved quickly to reassure America’s oldest and strongest allies in Europe, NATO and across Asia that Washington stood by them as a partner – reversing the focus from Trump on bilateral relations and even treating friends as ruthless economic rivals.
The exit from Afghanistan ended a failed 20-year war and was something previous presidents had only talked about. However, the dangerous and often chaotic final days of the withdrawal tarnished the United States’ image of professionalism, turning a moment of relief into humiliation.