Joe Biden has spent just over a year in office and is due for an evaluation. However, my analysis will stray from the opinion du jour that Biden is floundering and has not accomplished much in his first year as president.
After one year with Biden as president, the pundits make it seem as if the Democrats have already lost the midterms.
But I think premature horse-race journalism is a sign of a shallow pundit class. So instead, I’ll be focusing on Biden’s accomplishments and shortcomings, not his poll numbers. To me, Biden’s presidency has already seen many successes for which he has not received enough credit.
Biden should be getting more praise for withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan. America had been fighting in an ill-begotten war in Afghanistan for 20 years. The withdrawal was not without its issues – specifically, a resurgence of Taliban forces in government – and the execution could have been better. However, the end result is the same and deserves praise. The Obama and Trump administrations failed to end the war while holding the White House. Biden promised and delivered.
He also signed a massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief stimulus package into law in March. The bill sent $1,400 checks to most Americans in addition to spending billions on COVID-19 vaccinations, rental assistance and small business relief.
Of course, while Biden isn’t directly responsible for the economy, he should be able to take credit (as well as blame) for how well the economy is faring. Job creation and low unemployment rates are something that presidents can score some easy points on. As of right now, the unemployment rate is 3.9% and the first year of Biden’s presidency has seen the creation of 6.4 million new jobs.
Millions more Americans are working than they were just one year ago, and that fact should be balanced against legitimate concerns about inflation. The consumer price index was up about seven percent over Biden’s first year, the highest in 40 years. Though the president does not have a presidential inflation controller knob on his desk, he has to take the blame for the damage that inflation is doing to consumers.
It is hard to paint an overall picture of an economy as big as America’s, but painting Biden as a loser because of inflation or as a winner because of low unemployment would reveal the opiner to be a fool, or worse, a hack. As far as the economy goes, the message should be that job numbers look good and inflation is the thing to tackle next.
Additionally, Biden should be able to claim credit for COVID-19 vaccination distribution. Over 60% of Americans and 70% of American adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with almost a million vaccinations being given per day right now. With vaccinations being so widely available and affordable for so long, American adults who want a vaccine have had a chance to get one. Luckily, the vaccines, especially with a booster shot, do an excellent job at preventing hospitalization and death due to COVID-19.
I’ve also already talked about Biden’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill in a column last year, but it is worth including in his evaluation as well, seeing as it made historic investments in America’s roads, bridges, electric vehicle infrastructure, power grid and internet capabilities.
The above points lead me to the opinion that Biden has accomplished a lot in his first year with victories on the economy, COVID-19, infrastructure and foreign policy to tout.
But perhaps the infrastructure bill best sums up the predicament of Biden’s presidency. Biden did something important — investing over a trillion dollars in infrastructure — that failed to send his approval rate soaring. However, things like that are why I think Biden has been so successful so far. By not obsessing over his poll numbers, Biden was able to take the decisions necessary for the long-term wellbeing of the country. Most people do not vote based on infrastructure, but governing based solely on what animates voters the most at this particular moment is a bad method of governing.
So, here’s the question I pose to the Biden critics — is the purpose of campaigning and winning office to be popular and have a high approval rating? I think (or at least hope) that the purpose of politics is to win governing power so one can effect change, not merely so one can hold onto power for as long as is desirable.
Biden has left America better off than he found it one year ago. Millions of Americans are back to work and millions more are vaccinated against COVID-19. One of our endless wars drew to an end as our president brought our soldiers home and invested in the infrastructure necessary for all Americans to thrive.
Rather than looking forward with gloom at the midterm elections later this year, I look back at the accomplishments that uplifted so many Americans and will continue to uplift so many more in the years to come. I’ll leave all the horse race malarkey for the gamblers and puffed-up pundits.