The Biden Administration, One Year in and We’re Still Left Out

President Biden
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President Biden. Shaky grounds. Photo: Gage Skidmore.

We are amazed but not amused - By all the things you say that you'll do…But we are sick and tired of hearing your song - Tellin' how you are gonna’ change right from wrong - 'Cause if you really want to hear our views - You haven't done nothin'…” Stevie Wonder 1974

Politics is the process of debate and negotiation about the distribution of limited public resources. It can also involve the debate and process that determines who is elected to public office. Public policy is the output, the determination of who or what entities will receive those limited public resources and in what quantities.  One year in, Biden and Harris have failed on the politics by not fighting for what they promised and on the policy by not delivering.

During the 2020 presidential election Senator Biden promised the American people that the top priorities of his administration’s domestic agenda would be fighting coronavirus, improving the economy, responding to calls for racial justice and combating climate change.  On the international front, Biden promised that his administration would “lead the world involving issues from climate change to nuclear proliferation, from great power aggression to transnational terrorism, from cyberwarfare to mass migration.”  He promised to “…repair the damage wrought by President Trump and chart a fundamentally different course for American foreign policy for the world as we find it today…”

According to the most recent AP poll, Biden’s approval rating has hit a new low. Forty-three percent of respondents said they somewhat or strongly approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they somewhat or strongly disapprove of Biden’s performance. Gallup reported that Biden’s first-year approval rating was lower than many other former presidents at 48.9 percent.

The administration’s approach to fighting the coronavirus has been mixed. His national strategy for beating COVID-19 was much better than the non-existent blueprint from the previous administration. Biden’s initial plan was fairly well written and executed.  However, Biden has run into major obstacles; including inconsistent messaging from his COVID team, lack of public trust in the government (much of which was fomented by the previous administration and continues to be perpetuated by Trump supporters), the delta variant, the omicron variant and most notably the inability to develop and implement a national strategy to address vaccines and mask wearing.  In the minds of many, perception is reality.  President Biden’s lack of visibility on COVID leaves many with the impression that he is not really in control or command of this issue.

The economy is not doing nearly as well as many analysts would have you to believe. It’s a “tale of two cities”. The financialized sector of the economy is doing great. If you are fortunate enough to have a 401(k)-retirement plan you are doing quite well. According to Fidelity, the average 401(k) balance hit $129k as of June 30, up 24% from the same time last year.  This should come as no surprise with the Fed holding the benchmark interest rates near zero and continuing to pump $120B per month into the financial sector by buying at least $120 billion of bonds each month.  

The real economy is another story. According to the WSJ, initial jobless claims totaled 286,000 for the week ended Jan. 15, well above the 225,000 estimate. Continuing claims also rose, jumping to 1.64 million. Evictions are also on the rise again in a number of American cities. According to the latest data from the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, eviction filings have been rising in most of the 31 cities and six states where it collects data.  According to Statistica, “Since the Supreme Court ended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Covid-19 eviction ban on August 26, more Americans in bigger cities have found themselves out of house and home. This is according to numbers found on website Eviction Lab, which tracks eviction filings where they are available on a weekly basis.”

Instead of providing near-zero interest loans to those who are the most in need in America and pumping $120B per month into social safety net programs, the FED provides the money to the financial sector. President Biden cannot get his landmark BBB bill through; Senators Manchin and Sinema, et al claim “we can’t afford BBB”. But they somehow found the way to pour taxpayer dollars into financial institutions, protect the Trump tax cuts, and pass a $770 billion defense bill which was $24 billion more than Biden requested.  While it’s clear that national politics is extraordinarily polarized by party, President Biden can’t even get his signature pieces of legislation through his own party and as president, he’s the head of his party.  

Biden says, “I ran on compromise and consensus…” No, that’s not true! Joe, you ran on lowering the cost of pharmaceuticals, covering dental and optical care Medicare, eliminating student-loan debt, free college (that later became free community college), $70 billion to HBCUs and Tribal Colleges, etc.  Compromise and consensus is how you promised to accomplish what you promised! 

One of the largest failures of the Biden administration on the domestic front is their inability get the The Freedom to Vote Act and/or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.  Protecting the principle of one person one vote and ensuring that the ballots cast are counted are the cornerstones of a representative democracy.  The following quotes, one from a republican senator and one from a democratic strategist say it all. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell Tweeted, “African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans”.  Democratic strategist Paul Begala explained that the reason why the party has come up short in passing voting rights is because it has “bad followers.”  So Republicans don’t see African Americans as American and Democrats see African Americans as stupid children.

Biden’s foreign policy has failed as well.  As a part of the Obama administration, Biden was front and center as productive agreements with Cuba and Iran were entered into. After having both of these agreements canceled by Trump, Biden has failed to deliver on his promise to “…repair the damage wrought by President Trump and chart a fundamentally different course for American foreign policy…”. by failing to reverse Trump’s cancellation of the agreements.

Obama allowed the Saudi “coalition” to attack Yemen, resulting in the worst man-made humanitarian crisis in world history.  Biden could end this atrocity by refusing to refuel Saudi planes and not provide logistical support. President Biden said during a press conference on Jan 12th that redesignating Yemen’s Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization is “under consideration”. This would essentially criminalize delivering food to the Houthi-controlled areas of north Yemen, where most of the country’s starving population lives.

President Obama decided not to seek the extradition of Wikileaks founder and journalist Julian Assange.  Trump decided to reverse that decision. Biden has now followed in Trump’s footsteps by doubling down on Trump’s attack on free speech, journalism, and the First Amendment.

Biden is trying to pick fights with China, Russia and Iran.  Fortunately, Presidents Xi, Putin and Raisi are much too smart to be baited into a conflict with the US.  US jingoistic rhetoric is forcing these countries together and they are entering into cooperative agreements that won’t bode well for US interests.

Chilie, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Venezuela and other countries in South and Central America have held peaceful, open and honest elections that voted US backed neo-liberal governments out of office.  When Biden held his “Democracy Summit” and none of these countries were invited.  They hypocrisy is nauseating. Chilean protests in October 2019 highlighted the tensions between neoliberalism and democracy.  The failed US policy of neoliberalism started in Chile and has now died in Chile!

After a 19 year and 10 month-long invasion that cost the American taxpayer over $2T, the US was run out of Afghanistan.  Biden has now turned his focus to the African continent.  After eight failed years of French intervention in Mali French President Emmanuel Macron is looking for an exit strategy.  Biden is trying to convince Macron to stay as the US looks to increase its presence in the region.  Sounds like Vietnam to me.

Biden continued the backing of the TPLF in Ethiopia’s war, has been on the wrong side in Sudan and stood idly by as AFRICOM trained troops led by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya overthrew the government of President Alpha Condé and now President Roch Marc Kaboré of Burkina Faso has been taken into military custody .

Senator Biden promised to “…repair the damage wrought by President Trump and chart a fundamentally different course for American foreign policy for the world as we find it today…”  Well, it’s one year in and we the people, those who believe in democracy are left out.

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the author of Politics Another Perspective, Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon,” on SiriusXM Satellite radio channel 126. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: wjl3us@yahoo.com. www.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com

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