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Staff photo illustration / President Joe Biden speaks before signing an executive order to improve government services, in the Oval Office of the White House, Dec. 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Two columnists present opposing viewpoints on President Joe Biden's first year in office:

 

POINT: Biden's first 12 months in the Oval Office have been a disaster

 

By Chris Talgo

As we approach the one-year mark of Joe Biden's tenure as the 46th president of the United States, it is safe to say that Biden has performed poorly on several of the most pressing issues a president is tasked with handling.

First, Biden declared on several occasions while campaigning for the presidency that he would "shut down the virus." Biden has not delivered on that campaign promise. In fact, despite inheriting three vaccines, several treatment options, and a robust testing program, more Americans have died of COVID-19 under President Biden than under his predecessor.

Biden also promised that he would not mandate vaccines as a candidate as well as when he was president-elect — promises that he violated soon after he took the oath of office.

On almost all fronts, Biden has failed miserably in his quest to "shut down the virus." Just this month, COVID-19 cases in the United States surpassed the all-time record. Moreover, Biden's mishandling of the pandemic has resulted in massive shortages of at-home rapid tests as well as much-needed treatment options, such as monoclonal antibodies.

Moreover, his federal vaccine mandates have caused mass resignations among health care workers at a time when medical facilities cannot afford to lose any staff amid the latest case surge.

Second, the Biden administration's economic policies have caused widespread chaos. Inflation is at a 39-year high under Biden's stewardship. Although there are many factors that have led to this devastating bout of inflation, Biden's misguided macroeconomic policies surely share much of the blame.

Before Biden was inaugurated, the United States had achieved energy independence, gas prices were low and the economic recovery after the initial wave of COVID-19 was gaining momentum. But all of that progress has been reversed in less than one year. Since taking office, Biden has declared war on American energy production by shutting down pipelines and forbidding new leases for natural gas and oil exploration on federal lands.

This has resulted in skyrocketing gas prices and higher electricity and home-heating bills. And Biden had to beg OPEC, literally, to increase oil exports. Also, because energy is the lifeblood of the economy, Biden's ill-advised energy policies have exacerbated inflation.

Third, Biden was handed a secure southern border that is now wide open. In 2021, more than 2 million people illegally crossed the U.S. southern border. At the same time, fentanyl and other illicit drugs poured over the porous border in record amounts. Last year, more than 100,000 Americans died of fentanyl overdoses.

Although Biden is not solely to blame for the record number of drug overdoses during his first year as president, his lax enforcement of the southern border is certainly a factor that precipitated the surge in drug overdoses.

Fourth, as commander in chief Biden has done a pitiful job in his first year on the job. Nowhere was this more evident than in his botched handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. By unilaterally ordering that all U.S. forces would leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, Biden put the U.S. military in a precarious position. This decision was made worse when Biden also went against the advice of his generals and ordered the withdrawal from Bagram Air Base before civilians and military personnel had the opportunity to embark safely.

As a direct result of his Afghanistan mistakes, 13 U.S. military members paid the ultimate price as they heroically tried to guard the gates to Hamid Karzai Airport in the waning days of the pullout.

As an indirect result of his Afghanistan debacle, the world is now more fraught. China and Russia are on the march, eager to test the will of Biden. In the coming years, it is looking more likely that Taiwan and Ukraine could be invaded due to Biden's haphazard handling of Afghanistan.

Fifth, Biden has failed miserably in his quest to "unite" the country. According to recent polls, Americans are extremely divided on the direction of the country. For instance, according to Gallup, only 24 percent of Americans are "satisfied with the way things are going" under Biden.

All in all, in his first year in the Oval Office, Biden has failed in foreign affairs, economics and his handling of the pandemic. As an American, I sincerely hope Biden learns from his mistakes and rights the ship over the next three years.

Chris Talgo is senior editor at The Heartland Institute. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.

Tribune Content Agency

 

COUNTERPOINT: President's first-year accomplishments are substantial

By James Rosen

At a time of pandemic-driven gloom and relentless Republican-driven doom, President Joe Biden is already a flop.

That's the shrill, orchestrated and nonstop message from GOP lawmakers and conservative commentators, who work in coordinated concert.

Just one year into his presidency, Biden is deemed a "failure" in these circles, he and his aides "incompetent." His approval ratings appear to lend support to these verdicts as they hover under 45%. However, his detractors never note that is still well above the 35% reading of his immediate predecessor after one year. That was by far the lowest rating in the almost eight-decade history of presidential polling.

Presidential approval ratings, in any event, are fickle. Jimmy Carter's rating after one year was 8 points higher than that of Ronald Reagan at the same point — 57 to 49 points — yet Reagan was overwhelmingly re-elected while Carter was defeated ... by Reagan. President George H.W. Bush stood at 71% approval after his first year, only to be ushered from office by Bill Clinton three years later.

Like every other of the 45 previous presidents, Biden has made some mistakes in his inaugural year. His withdrawal from Afghanistan was precipitous, though it was tied to Donald Trump's February 2020 deal promising a full withdrawal within 15 months and based on laughable promises from the Taliban. Biden could have left a small force in Kabul to support the U.S.-backed government and prevent or at least forestall a Taliban takeover. In the name of national security and long-term stability, U.S. military contingents remain in Germany and South Korea decades after the end of devastating wars.

A more careful withdrawal from Afghanistan would have taken advantage of the clear majority of Americans — 60-plus% when Biden took office — who supported leaving the country.

Biden, never a great communicator, has also sent mixed messages in dealing with shortages stemming from a global pandemic now entering its third year. More broadly, Biden has pushed sweeping, expensive legislative packages as if he enjoyed the large congressional majorities that Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson exploited. Instead, he has razor-thin margins that make even modest proposals difficult to achieve.

Despite his own mistakes and the Republicans' calculated, cynical opposition to even popular initiatives such as infrastructure investment and action on climate change, Biden has accomplished a lot in one year:

* He signed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law in November, providing tens of millions of dollars to improve roads, bridges, public transit, broadband access and other core needs. Trump had campaigned on even bigger infrastructure investment but never overcame Republican opposition.

* Biden last March signed a $1.9 trillion COVID-relief bill. Not a single Republican lawmaker voted for it, yet a number quickly put out releases boasting of bringing home federal funds.

* The United States rejoined the Paris Accords last February, in line with the two-thirds of Americans who view climate change as a serious problem — and even with the two-fifths of deeply concerned Republicans. Biden's opponents don't view this as an accomplishment, but as with so many conservative stances over the years, the public, and history, are not on their side.

* The Senate has confirmed 40 federal judges nominated by Biden, more than any president's first year since Reagan in 1981. This is the surest sign that Biden isn't the "radical socialist" that Republicans claim as they trot out the tired cliché they've used against every Democratic president since FDR.

* Yes, the inflation rate is 7% . No one likes paying more for goods, yet that rate is hardly at the "soaring" or "exploding" level Republicans (and too many headline writers) claim. And prices are increasing amid some positive economic signs: The unemployment rate has dropped from 6.3% when Biden took office to 3.9% — returning to the pre-pandemic levels under Trump in 2018 and 2019. The gross domestic product last year (including fourth-quarter projections) was just shy of 5%, the best since 1984. It was less than 1% in 2020, Trump's last year in office. The economy added almost 6 million jobs last year, more than in any previous president's first year.

* 99% of schools are open compared with 46% when Biden took office.

* Biden has reinstated the federal ban on felon executions and ended the Trump-era ban on transgender service members.

In our current hyper-partisan politics, Democrats and Republicans, progressives and conservatives, will differ on whether all these changes are accomplishments and whether the uniformly positive ones are thanks to Biden. Yet it is impossible to look at them as a whole and say, unless you're following the rote Republican script, that they represent a prematurely failed presidency. Democrats, typically more modest than Republicans, might even use the S-word and start saying it's pretty darn successful.

James Rosen, a former Washington Bureau reporter for McClatchy Newspapers, wrote this for InsideSources.com.

Tribune Content Agency

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