Biden’s Failed 1st Year: Will He Hold Another Term in Office?

In the year since his inauguration, President Joe Biden has failed to achieve most of the goals he set and promises he made.

Joe Biden’s plight is illustrated by the polls, which at the beginning of his presidency showed more than 60% approval of the way he governed. In recent days, however, Biden’s approval rating is less than 40%. The drop in ratings was to be expected, since the president does not have as strong of a support system as some of his Democratic predecessors in the White House. In addition, the sharp polarization in the U.S. makes cooperation with Congress difficult. The president promised that he would ease divisions in the country, but he made the situation worse by making mistakes and showing a lack of strong leadership.

Biden Was Supposed To Be Like Roosevelt

In the first months of his presidency, Biden achieved considerable success. Congress passed initiatives to help victims of the pandemic and stimulate the economy with an investment of $1.9 trillion. His administration oversaw the mass distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, which decreased hospitalization and deaths from the virus. Economic growth in America helped lower unemployment, which was 9% in January of last year, to the current 3.9%. Americans, however, do not feel the benefit of a good economy and wage increases because these benefits are offset by rising inflation.

The next stage of reforms was to be Biden’s infrastructure bill, which would rebuild and repair transport and telecommunication infrastructure through budget investments. Biden’s American Families Plan would improve the living conditions of millions of Americans. Biden’s voting rights bill would block the attempts of the Republican Party to restrict voting in many states, helping eliminate racial injustice. Biden’s plans were compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.

Legislative Stalemate in Congress

It looks like Biden’s reforms will end with the plans, but no execution. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was passed with the support of some Republicans because it was not politically controversial. The Build Back Better Plan, however, may not pass Congress. The proposed plan calls for an extensive package of European-style social benefits, like paid parental and health leave (not guaranteed in the U.S.) and free college tuition, the introduction of which would reduce poverty and income inequality. Recently, the voting rights bill that would expand the voting possibilities for voters from racial minorities, and thus for an overwhelmingly Democratic electorate, also stalled.

The reason for the legislative stalemate is that Democrats are lacking a true majority in Congress. In the Senate, the distribution of seats between them and Republicans is 50-50. Their advantage is in holding the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris; however, passing anything other than the budget bill requires at least 60 votes because the opposition can block voting by prolonging the debate indefinitely (the filibuster). Apart from the infrastructure bill, the Republicans are collectively against any initiative by the Democrats and the White House.

The BBB bill has a budget that can be passed by a simple majority, but it turned out that even Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, representing the conservative states of West Virginia and Arizona, offered resistance. These politicians demanded a reduction in BBB spending and the elimination of certain provisions. The sponsors of the bill partially compromised, but after months of negotiation within the party, they did not come to an agreement. The plan to reform the electoral law fell because Sinema and Manchin also did not agree to repeal the filibuster — in a situation where only 50 votes were needed, they could have allowed it to be passed.

The Left Is Pushing, the Right Is Raising Alarm

Republicans remind Biden that his campaign promised a government “beyond divisions” and only moderate changes, but he supported a program of radical reforms consistent with “socialist” plans to subordinate the economy to the state. They point to components of the BBB Act, such as the student loan forgiveness and paid maternity leave, as examples. They argue that Biden does not have the authority to make such ambitious changes since the tied balance of power in Congress reflects the division in society they describe as “center-right.”

The president is in a difficult position since he was elected largely by the votes of the growing left in the Democratic Party, which calls for limiting the power of large corporations, reducing inequalities and reforms such as reducing the powers of the police, accused of brutality and racism. This faction, calling itself “progressives,” with leaders such as Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are demanding their promises. Meanwhile, slogans like “defund the police” have become the right wing’s dream propaganda weapon, scaring Americans on Fox News with an increase in crime — and it is indeed increasing.

It Was Supposed To Be Different Than under Trump

The moment Biden’s polls began to drop significantly was the chaotic withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in August. The president was completely surprised by the lightning-fast conquest of the country by the Taliban; as it turned out, he did not properly prepare the evacuation of soldiers, civilian Americans and Afghans cooperating with the U.S. The administration was reminded that it simply ended an unpopular war that could not be won. However, the disastrous retreat of troops, leaving thousands of people vulnerable to revenge by Islamic radicals, undermined faith in Biden’s competence. And Biden emphasized in his campaign that, unlike Trump, he would lead professionally.

79-year-old Biden gives frequent speeches in which — unlike Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — he does not captivate the audience. His speech to persuade Congress to support electoral law reform was criticized even by some Democrat-sympathetic commentators. They pointed out that he unnecessarily alienated moderate Republican senators when he compared opponents of the project to racist politicians in the times of Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan. Biden also tends to promise voters more than he can achieve, which earns him criticism even more easily.

COVID-19 and Other Misfortunes

To make matters worse, despite hopes last summer that the pandemic was going to end, new variants, including delta and omicron, triggered another wave of cases in the fall, which the government seemed unprepared for as free testing was lacking. The administration is making up for this neglect recently — the distribution of 400 million free N95 masks has just been announced. However, the opposition has already reprimanded the president for another sin: He promised to win the fight against COVID-19 and again he did not keep his promise. Harris, meanwhile, receives terrible reviews.

Going deep on the defensive after a series of setbacks, Biden is also dragging the Democratic Party down with him. The midterm elections in November are expected to almost certainly result in defeat for Democratic candidates. This is indicated by a historical regularity — the incumbent president’s party usually loses the election in the middle of his first term of office, which in practice is a plebiscite on his rule. Since the current majority of Democrats in the Capitol is minimal, this means they will lose majority in both houses of Congress as a result of the elections. This is also indicated by a recent poll that says more Americans now support Republicans than Democrats.

Republicans Are Threatening Impeachment

Since the Republican Party is likely to regain control of Congress, Biden will not be able to push through any major reforms in the final two years of his first term in office. Moreover, the Republicans have announced that they will initiate investigations against the president and his administration by holding hearings in committees. Their most radical threat is impeachment. Meanwhile, there are voices in the Democratic Party claiming that in 2024, Biden will not even run for reelection. It is anticipated that even if he does, so will other candidates from his party.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Biden tried to present the past year at its best. As he said, he did not anticipate that the Republicans would act with such determination to make sure he fails in everything. He stated that he was still counting on the passage of at least some of the social benefits and climate change components of the BBB or a moderate version of his voting rights bill. In an election year, however, it is even more difficult than usual to pass any significant reforms.

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