A year after Biden took office: Increasingly helpless

To analyse

Status: 01/20/2022 02:07 am

Joe Biden started his presidency a year ago with a lot of momentum. Now, 12 months later, stagnation has spread – and even worse for the Democrats: the impression of helplessness.

By Arthur Landwehr, ARD Studio Washington

“The people out there support the American rescue plan” – the newly elected American President Joe Biden appeared satisfied and full of energy in March last year, a few weeks after his inauguration. Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid stimulus package was hugely popular at the time, including among Republican voters. He had gotten that through Congress with the approval of the opposition – and it seemed Biden, with all his experience, would make Trump forget.

Arthur Landwehr
ARD-Studio Washington

In the very first week, he reversed a large chunk of Trump policy with presidential orders, and professionalism seems to be making its way into the White House. 61 percent approval among Americans is the early reward, and even the skeptical left wing is cooperating. “He exceeds our expectations,” says left-wing MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “We expected a much more conservative policy.”

Biden praises early successes

But Joe Biden is pushing ahead, consistently pursuing his social and climate policy agenda. In his own review of the anniversary, Biden also focuses on the successes of the beginning. The vaccination campaign is initially going well. Jobs are popping up at unprecedented speed, unemployment is lower than before the pandemic, and more Americans can afford health insurance. Climate policy is back on the agenda. He is also proud that the government team is more diverse than ever before.

A year after Biden took office, American society remains divided

Arndt Brorsen, ARD-aktuell, night magazine 00:16, 20.1.2022

Suddenly, however, in the summer, there is a standstill, the pace is gone, and politically things are going downhill. The president’s desk is no longer filled with signature folders with solutions, but with problems that have become unsolvable: chaos at the border with Mexico, more and more people want to cross the Rio Grande and overwhelm the border guards. Vice President Kamala Harris, who is responsible for this topic, looks helpless and Biden does not position himself.

Then in the summer the humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, provocations from Russia increase and finally inflation is increasingly perceived by the people as a burden. Prices are rising, especially housing, groceries and petrol are becoming more and more expensive and eat up the increased salaries. The fight against the pandemic is not progressing, the vaccination rate is stagnating and there is no end in sight. Only the Europeans are satisfied, they finally have a partner at the table who is also willing to lead.

Republicans just have to watch

Something unexpected is happening domestically: two senators from their own ranks are consistently blocking Biden’s prestige projects and turning him into a helplessly acting puppet, the Republicans only have to watch. “I just can’t take responsibility for it,” says Joe Manchin from West Virginia, as does his colleague Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona. It’s about Biden’s legislative package for more climate protection, more social benefits, more equal opportunities.

Economically wrong, too expensive, too much of a welfare state, which the complaints of the Democratic senators, without which Biden would not have a majority, not even on the issue of electoral reform. On both issues, he speaks to the party left, which in return is taking hostage the infrastructure package for better roads, a modern power grid and fast internet. Joe Biden seems increasingly helpless.

Party “friends” do not keep their word

“I hope, but I don’t know if we can do it,” he says publicly. It is negotiated and slimmed down, a deal found. The left agrees to the infrastructure package so that Biden can leave his mark on social and climate policy. His signature in the White House rose garden is another success for Biden.

Ulrich Ueckerseifer, ARD Washington, with assessments of developments in the USA since Biden took office

night magazine 12:16 a.m., 20.1.2022

It is the last, because the other side in their own party does not keep the agreement. He would have long wanted to celebrate something like the “New Deal” of the 21st century, linking his name to a thoroughly modernized and future-oriented USA before the important midterm elections in 2022. Free degree courses, reliable child benefits for everyone, relief in healthcare costs, conversion of the energy supply, none of this will become reality for the time being. Months of standstill follow, mildew spreads over the government.

Inflation tears Biden’s balance sheet apart

Economically, the United States is doing very well in the first Biden year. Unemployment is falling dramatically, growth is good, the stock market brings profits from which current and future pensioners also benefit. But he doesn’t get any credit for it, and inflation tears his balance sheet apart. Seven percent hasn’t been there for 40 years and people are noticing every day that their money doesn’t go far.

Now, a year after the inauguration, only 41 percent think Joe Biden is doing a good job, and 52 percent blame him for their concerns. Of the last presidents, only Donald Trump had slightly worse values ​​after a year, namely 38 percent approval. Bill Clinton came in at 47, Barak Obama at 51. Because of the September 11 attacks, George W. Bush had more than 80 percent of Americans behind him.

Biden’s presidency in a bind

People expect the President to do something about inflation – and Joe Biden knows that only with a stable economy can he win the midterm elections. The tools are limited. There are higher interest rates that the Fed is announcing, but that can hurt mortgage holders and slow down the stock market. “Finally adopt my package, then there will be jobs,” Biden begs. “Then inflation will also go down.”

But therein lies a contradiction that his supporters also recognize, Biden’s dilemma. There are no longer too few jobs, but too few workers. The problem is not too little demand, but supply bottlenecks and too much money on the market are driving prices up. The big “Build Back Better” money package was intended as an economic-ecological blessing and should go down in the history books with the name Joe Biden. Now he has to ask himself whether it isn’t a good thing that the next trillion in borrowed state money is flooding onto the market later. Any more money without increasing the supply of goods would push inflation even higher.

On the other hand, it is this program that should become the flagship of the Biden era and can only become a reality at the wrong time. If it doesn’t happen, Biden is considered a loser and a weak president who doesn’t even have his own party under control. If he still gets the votes, it could instead become the economic nail in the coffin of his presidency.

A year after Joe Biden took office – a balance sheet

Arthur Landwehr, ARD Washington, 1/20/2022 1:27 am


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