“Friendly Fire” Is Hurting the Biden Presidency
Biden is working to give liberals everything we asked for. So why are we saying he’s a failure?
Take a moment to imagine what the country is like today if Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensburger finds Trump’s 11,000 votes.
There are no discussions about why a Democratic Senate can’t pass an infrastructure or a voting rights bill.
There are no efforts to get the Senate Parliamentarian to include an immigration policy in the budget bill.
There are no executive orders to freeze collections of student debt, extend the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, stop the Keystone pipeline, abolish the “Muslim ban”, prohibit job discrimination of LGTBQ citizens, or to stop the building of the wall.
The Cabinet is made up of the same flunkies, lickspittles, sycophants, and pecksniffs, not to say, outright crooks that we saw during the first four years of Trump’s administration.
The American Rescue Plan, which put $1.7T into a staggering economy, likely is not made the law of the land.
We’re almost certainly still at war in Afghanistan. If Trump does carry through with his promise to withdraw, does anyone believe that the administration who negotiated the release of 5000 battle-hardened Taliban prisoners and got nothing in return would have managed it well?
It’s clear that our country and the world would look very different today and not for the better.
And yet, to hear many liberals tell the story (especially here on Medium), one might think we were in the midst of a failed administration that has committed a long string of fumbles and errors and is doomed to one term.
It all started with the unwarranted backlash against the withdrawal from Afghanistan. As I’ve written, most of that criticism was leveled by pundits who apparently knew next to nothing about the antecedents to that withdrawal. It was especially disappointing to hear liberals claiming that we should have waited longer…as if 20 years wasn’t adequate.
Those misinformed criticisms seemed to open the flood gates. These days, Biden is blamed for the resurgence of the COVID pandemic (never mind that it’s been sustained by right-wingers intent on proving Darwin right), inflation (never mind that most of it is due to supply chains impacted by the previous administration’s failed management of the pandemic), and, lately, the fact that France has its feathers ruffled because we pulled the rug out from under them with respect to some orders for submarines for Australia (never mind that France always has its feathers ruffled about something).
By this point in the Trump administration, the scandals were already starting to pile up. Nothing remotely like any of those scandals have afflicted this administration, the efforts of right-wing media notwithstanding.
On the legislative front, Trump’s primary effort was a failure (thank God) to take health care insurance away from tens of millions of Americans by repealing the ACA. Do you remember the articles that claimed Trump’s administration was already a complete failure? Neither do I.
Biden has signed executive orders that will have positive impacts on the lives of individual Americans: reopening ACA marketplaces and reducing barriers to applying for Medicaid, addressing discriminatory housing practices, and lifting restrictions on abortion funding among many others. During Trump’s earliest days, he signed orders to repeal the ACA and implement the Muslim ban. That gave him the reason, he felt, to claim that no other president, save FDR, had “passed more legislation”. Trump’s early months were such an unmitigated failure that he started downplaying the “100 days” cliche, tweeting that it was a “ ridiculous standard” by which to judge presidents. (Trump was, apparently, especially annoyed that his performance was being compared to President Obama’s, who had signed the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Act and was working to get the ACA passed.)
One might argue that it’s fair to criticize the present administration without reference to past administrations. We have one president at a time, and each gets his or her just deserts in his or her time. On the other hand, to ignore the context of circumstances surrounding any administration’s ability to deliver on those promises is lazy punditry. That’s especially true when one administration’s utter failure to deliver and subsequent interference make it tougher for the next administration to deliver on its promises. Ignoring history is just lazy punditry.
I mentioned that the only legislation Trump was seeking to pass at this point in his tenure was a “repeal and replace” bill. Oddly, Biden is taking broadsides for legislation the Democrats are working on but have yet to pass. Let’s take a closer look at what this “failed presidency” is working on at this moment:
· A $1.2T bi-partisan infrastructure bill (that AR&R Act that saved the US economy? It was $885B) that includes $550B to be invested in infrastructure over the next five years, including $65B (“failure” Biden wanted $100B) to stretch broadband reach to underserved rural counties (something the GOP promises but never seems to deliver) and urban areas, $7.5B for switching public transportation to electric, and $21B for environmental remediation. The only thing that’s holding that bill up is House progressives. I don’t strongly disagree with their position but “left-wing” pundits who claim that Biden has been a failure when their own tribe is keeping things bottled up are simply dishonest.
· A $3.5T reconciliation bill that includes universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, two years of free community college, a national paid family and medical leave program; extensions of the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and the child and dependent care tax credit, adding dental, vision and hearing benefits to Medicare, allowing Medicare officials to negotiate drug prices, and investments to support reductions in carbon emissions.
· A voting rights bill in the Senate that will provide for automatic voter registration, online and election day registration, make Election Day a holiday, extend early voting and make voting by mail easier.
Each one of these bills represents major legislation. Each one of these bills will be signed by President Biden the moment it hits his desk. Each one of these bills, even those that are bottled up by progressives, contains much that has been on liberal wish lists for a long, long time. Precisely NONE of these policies would be remotely part of the conversation if Joe Biden was not the president.
My point is not that President Biden is not beyond reproach. The harsh critique we hear from the right is, of course, based solely on lies. Sadly, so is much of the critique we hear from the left.