70As we approach the fifth month of the Biden Administration, it is time to review his Presidency thus far, some of the highs and lows of his administration and score him on some of the key issues he’s faced.
Gun Violence: 1/5. Biden has been terrible in this field; he has done nothing significant and with gun violence it’s go big or go home. He did restrict ghost guns further, but he has failed to ban assault weapons which is essential after hundreds (literally) of injuries and deaths in these past few months. Biden has once again shown that gun violence is a national embarrassment, and an epidemic in and of itself.
War on Terror: 3/5. Biden hasn’t entered any conflicts, which is standard for an incoming President. It’s all been easy going (or as easy going as war can be) in Iraq, Syria, and Mozambique, but there’s been some major revelations re Afghanistan – and not always for the better. The US removal of troops from Afghanistan may be a good decision, but it can’t be done in the middle of the war when the enemy is strong. Also, Biden’s politicised the issue (they’re pulling out on September 11th, 2021: anything big happen on that day, say 20 years ago?) which is inappropriate for a military decision.
Healthcare: 4/5. Healthcare has been all about Covid-19 recently – we’ll talk about that later – but Biden has also made some investments in healthcare in the long run. Most importantly, he’s re-joined the World Health Organisation. Why the US was ever not part of it – who knows. But they’re back now and driving healthcare policy on a global stage. Also, some benefits from the Obama era that Trump revoked have been re-instated. Overall, some progress but more to be done in the future.
Covid-19: 5/5. Wow. That’s literally all there is to say. Covid-19 is far from over in the US, and another outbreak may be imminent, but Biden couldn’t have done it any better than he has. In Trump’s last week in office, there were an average of 205,000 Covid cases a day. This past week (the last week of May), there was an average of 19,000 Covid cases a day. Similarly, Trump left Biden a vaccination wreck having promised ‘Warp-speed’, and Biden swooped in, fully vaccinating 50% of Americans in five months. Now, masks are no longer needed for vaccinated Americans; Biden has ushered in a new normal.
Education: 5/5. Biden has excelled in the field of education. Most importantly, kids are headed back to schools next year, and he’s got to start somewhere. Biden has promised 16 years of free education to every American (starting with Reception or Pre-K and ending with Community College). To those hoping he would’ve cancelled student debt as well, give the man a break. He’s been trying to dig the world’s biggest country out of a recession and save thousands of Americans from a pandemic; it’s reasonable for him to not have much more splurging room.
Environment: 5/5. Biden’s response to the climate crisis is another example of the change in narrative the US is now seeing. It started with the shutting down of the Keystone XL Pipeline (maybe not the best decision after half of the country’s petrol supplies were shut down by a cyber-attack – but he couldn’t have guessed that) and re-joining the Paris Climate agreement (again, it remains a mystery why the US left in the first place, but they’re back now!). Since then, Biden’s Economic Recovery Acts have continued to invest in climate-friendly infrastructure and electric cars; all part of playing the long game and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
Infrastructure: 5/5. Biden has nailed it when it comes to infrastructure. Cash has flooded into the housing and development industry to help renters get their feet back on the ground. The administration has also massively upped the transportation sector, in part because of Biden’s well documented personal connection to Amtrak. He’s laid out the framework to lift up impoverished communities, and further fund minority communities who have been under-funded in the past.
Labour and Employment: 4/5. The minimum wage was not raised and that’s bad. Even though it technically wasn’t Biden’s decision (the Senate is really on my nerves now), he’s the President so is still accountable for not getting it done. The unemployment numbers went down, however, even though it wasn’t as much as he’d have liked them to. The administration’s also increased unemployment benefits – hopefully helping Americans return to the workforce.
The Economy: 3/5. For the most part, the economy has improved in Biden’s first few months. The stimulus checks that came with the American Rescue Plan have helped Americans get back on their feet and re-join the workforce, even though the new jobs report was underwhelming. Biden’s put more restrictions on big corporations which has had a marginally negative impact on the economy. And nobody can beat Trump’s numbers because he lifted so many key restrictions on the economy and trade at the start of his term. So, it appears Biden’s economy is underperforming, even though it is helping people more.
Anti-Discrimination: 4/5. Biden’s track record has been almost all good, but people have to notice in order for it to pay off. Biden’s definitively welcomed the Trans community back into the Armed Forces, he’s chosen the first LGBTQ+ cabinet secretary and a Native American cabinet secretary, and he’s invested hundreds of millions into saving women subject to domestic abuse. The hot topic of discussion, however, remains race relations. Derek Chauvin was convicted in a landmark ruling, and Biden went beyond the ruling calling for further action – but police brutality is still running rampant. Even though Biden is making changes, the people – understandably – want more and are continuing to protest; the death of Adam Toledo sparked a national reaction. Biden needs the populous to have more faith that they’re headed in the right direction, albeit slowly.
Immigration: 2/5. Biden came in with the right intentions, but that’s the only reason his score’s not a ‘1’. He shut down construction of the border wall (but the fact this even existed in the first place is so ridiculous I’m unwilling to let Biden benefit from it) and he came in with a plan to facilitate citizenship for DREAMers and let in more immigrants – frankly more than the US can handle. Biden directed officers to let big numbers in, for which we’re grateful. but their documents aren’t being processed fast enough. Now, applications for citizenship are backed up and holding centres for immigrants are becoming overcrowded. He had a good plan, but the execution of it has been shoddy.
Israel v Palestine: 3/5. This was an unforeseeable crisis for Biden, so he chose to stick with his predecessors from both parties on the issue by fully supporting Israel. He’s claimed that Israel has the right to self-defence (which they do, but right now they’re being the aggressors) and that there’s no room for anti-Semitism (also, of course, true). In the past, most Americans have agreed to stick with the Israelis, meaning it made even more sense for him to side with them. The emergence of the progressive left-wing has begged to differ, however, creating a rift in the Democratic Party. Between not acknowledging Israeli as the aggressor and risking a split in his party, it hasn’t been perfect – but it could’ve been much worse.
China: 3/5. Biden got dealt a difficult hand with China, so we have to go easy on him here, even though he’s struggled. He promised to resolve the many Human Rights violations in the country, but also wants to loosen trade restrictions which will be hard if he simultaneously attacks China on a social front. Some expected him to be lenient on China due to his positive experiences with Xi Jin Ping as Vice President, but he’s taken a more aggressive route. He’s condemned the Human Rights Abuses in China and has kept most of the trade restrictions in place. Good for you, Biden, for standing for moral values, but don’t forget your farmers need to sell products to China.
Other Foreign Policy – 4/5. Biden condemned the Myanmar coup (he’d be crazy if he didn’t), but there could be more to be done considering the number of people the Junta has killed. He also condemned the arrest of Navalny, but more could’ve been done in terms of sanctions against Russia, especially considering they also launched a cyber-attack against the US. Other than that, it’s been pretty smooth going on the world stage (or, as smooth going as it could be).
Overall Score – 51/70 (B). He’s no Abraham Lincoln, but anything’s better than the last guy: we’ll take it!