Corey Lee Wilson
Recap of Biden's 6 Biggest Failures During First Year as President
President Joe Biden's first year in the Oval Office has come to a close today and, as is to be expected of an administration's freshman year, the president has had a tumultuous path so far.
The series of challenges presented to Biden's administration have made the 46th president's inaugural year at the White House a difficult one, having to deal with record inflation, the ongoing COVID pandemic and political division.
As Biden came to an end to his first year in office, Newsweek looked back over some of the president's failures over the course of the last year.
1) Failed Build Back Better Act
President Biden's flagship Build Back Better Act has failed to get passed in law, despite his commitment to pass the bill by Christmas. The Build Back Better Act is a central piece of the administration's objectives and was originally drafted with a budget of $3.5 trillion that included provisions and support for infrastructure and social policies. Eventually, the bill's budget saw itself slashed to $1.75 trillion.
The proposed bill was initially passed by the House in November, though has been stalled in the Senate since. The Build Back Better Act also lost the crucial support of Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, all but killing the bill as it needs the support of all 50 Democratic senators.
President Biden could now be forced to sacrifice key components of the bill in order to maneuver through the divided Senate.
Biden might have to compromise on issues such as the extension of the enhanced child tax credit, universal preschool and increased climate change funding in hopes of passing his flagship bill.
2) Stalled Voting Legislation
Other central elements of the Biden administration's agenda for his inaugural year have also met a deadlock.
Democrats also failed to pass voting rights legislation, which their Republican counterparts have successfully opposed. This follows the introduction of new voting restrictions in Republican-led states in the aftermath of the 2020 election, and former president Donald Trump's false claims of voter fraud.
In order to successfully pass the voting rights legislation, the Biden administration would also have to reform the Senate filibuster, which Manchin has repeatedly opposed.
3) Failure to Cancel Student Debt
On the campaign trail, Biden vowed he would cancel at least $10,000 of student loan debt per person in an effort to undo individual burdens the loans imposed.
The President has extended the interest-free pause on federal student loan repayments that was introduced amid the pandemic, though the measure is by no means a forgiveness of standing loans. The pause is scheduled to lift in February, and payments will resume.
His primary actions on this front are primarily built on existing promises on the topic made by previous administrations. Much debate has been had about the president's authority to personally write off student debts, with certain factions of the Democratic party urging the president to use executive action to resolve the issue.
However, Biden himself expressed his doubt towards that approach, and said in April: "I don't think I have the authority", a sentiment echoed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
4) COVID Mismanagement
Biden has long been aware of the severity of the COVID pandemic and the need for effective measures to manage the crisis, and in the opening months of his tenure he oversaw a mass vaccination campaign.
However the emergence of the Delta variant over the summer and the recent wave of Omicron has stalled Biden's initial progress on the COVID front. The administration's lack of preparation for new variants was reflected in the sharp surge in cases nationwide, as well as in the shortage of testing kits.
The surge in infections saw an average of over 750,000 daily new COVID cases reported over the last week, according to data from John Hopkins University. The number of daily COVID deaths has also seen a rise in the past week, with 1,796 deaths reported last according to John Hopkins data.
A number of Biden's fellow Democratic senators criticized his approach for being "reactive, rather than proactive." Additionally, Biden recently saw the Supreme Court block Biden's vaccine mandate for businesses, which intended to enforce vaccine-or-test requirements for large private companies.
Criticism was also leveled at the CDC for its guidance recommending mask use in schools for children over the age of two. Scientists raised concerns over the method's effectiveness, while fellow international bodies offered contrasting advice to the CDC.
Consequently, more U.S. citizens than ever now disapprove of Biden's handling of the pandemic, with 48 percent of the public dissatisfied.
5) Record Inflation
President Biden's economic accomplishments have been bittersweet. On the one hand, the Biden administration approved a hefty $1.9 trillion COVID relief package and passed a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law. Additionally, a record 6.4 million jobs were created which saw unemployment drop to just 3.9 percent last December.
On the other hand, national inflation rose to a record 6.8 percent, the highest level in 40 years. This has consistently driven up the prices of basic goods and services such as gas, food and housing. The upshot in prices seen in December represented the sixth consecutive month of price increments.
In November, gas prices skyrocketed by 58 percent, the largest increase recorded over a 12-month period since 1980.
Rising inflation was also compounded with supply chain shortages and delays, further aggravating the issue for consumers. The White House has deemed the rising prices to be "transitory," a temporary effect as a result of increased pandemic-related costs. and expects the surge to settle over the coming months. In a statement at the time, Biden said the ongoing inflation was not representative of "today's reality".
"It does not reflect the expected price decreases in the weeks and months ahead," Biden said in the statement.
6) Immigration Debacles and Remain in Mexico
In Biden's opening year in the White House, the issue of migration and the administration's mismanagement at the US-Mexico border has become a constant headache.
Biden had vowed to undo many of Trump's heavily criticized immigration policies in a bid to guarantee increased protection and care for asylum-seekers and migrants entering the country. However, his administration's handling of the issue has left a lot to be desired.
Despite his campaign trail promises, Biden has reinstated the Trump-era Remain In Mexico program and has also upheld a controversial policy known as Title 42.
Title 42 has been heavily criticized for using the pandemic to enable veiled human rights violations and pre-emptively remove migrants found at the border. The policy has also led to family separations at the border, as many blocked from entering the country chose to send their children through alone in a bid to guarantee their safety.
Meanwhile, the Remain In Mexico program has been slammed by critics for denying migrants entry to the U.S. while keeping them in bureaucratic limbo at makeshift border camps in Mexico.
The administration's negligence at the border has also resulted in increased hostility. In the opening 10 months of Biden's presidency, over 7,647 cases of rape, torture, murder, kidnapping and violent assault towards asylum-seekers at the border have been recorded.
The administration has faced fierce criticism for their mismanagement at the border, with the United Nations urging Biden to lift the repressive policies.
This section is courtesy of the Inigo Alexander Newsweek January 2022 article “Joe Biden's 6 Biggest Failures During His First Year as President.”