REVIEW - Defiant Biden Touts Progress In Year 1 As Approval Ratings Hit Rock Bottom

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 20th January, 2022) US President Joe Biden has hailed his first-year record in effectively handling challenges on multiple fronts - from the pandemic to the economy - but polls show most voters disagree, a situation exacerbated by a repeated failure to rally his own party to pass key legislation.

Thursday marks twelve months since the day Biden was sworn in as president and vowed to unite the country in his inaugural address.

The president ended his first year in office on Wednesday in a rare solo presser from the White House where he said it has been a year of both challenges and "enormous progress."

When pressed by a reporter about his low approval ratings among moderates and independents, the president snapped back defiantly.

"I don't believe in polls," Biden said at the press conference before calling on another questioner.

DOWNWARD TREND AMID MULTIPLE CRISES

Despite claims of progress and a sudden disbelief in the science of polling, the data makes clear voter discontent with Biden grew throughout the year amid the omicron wave, spikes in gas prices, rising inflation, supply chain issues, and a botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. This in addition to an inability to gain consensus within his own party to pass key social and voting rights legislation.

According to Real Clear politics (RCP), which averages all of the major polls on a daily basis, Biden's approval rating a week after entering the Oval Office stood at 55.5 percent and has since fallen to 40.9% - the lowest of his tenure.

The figure is almost as bad as his predecessor's, who finished his inaugural year with a 40.1% RCP score. Biden's first-year RCP average approval rating is also below that of Presidents Barack Obama (45.2%) and George W. Bush (58%).

In August, Biden's job approval rating abruptly sunk below the 50% mark, which many surveys attributed to the perceived mishandling of the US exit from Afghanistan, for which the president took heat from both sides of the political aisle.

Despite the administration spinning the fight against covid as a major strong point for Biden, less than half of voters polled in several recent surveys said they approved of the president's handling of the pandemic. Voters have also given Biden low scores on his handling of the economy largely due to rising inflation.

Biden has even drawn the ire of some mainstream media outlets for failing to provide access while members of the White House press pool have expressed confusion over several of his verbal gaffes.

"Biden's popularity rating is sinking rapidly," University of Houston History Professor Gerald Horne told Sputnik. "After initial success with passage of a giant infrastructure bill, things have deteriorated."

Biden did deliver on a number of campaign promises related to issues such as the pandemic, health, and climate change. He met his vow to ensure the distribution of 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots for 50 million people in his first 100 days. And according to the CDC, 75% of Americans have received at least one shot to date, while 63% have been fully vaccinated.

On the human rights front, he reversed the Trump administration's Muslim ban, the transgender military ban, and the family separation policy at the border.

He also rejoined the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Paris climate accord, and resumed ties with the Palestinian Authority.

The White House lauded several of his economic achievements including bringing the unemployment rate down to 3.9% from 6.3% while reducing child poverty by 40 percent.

Biden championed pandemic relief legislation that passed in March which provided approximately $1.9 trillion in aid to US families and businesses. In November, Biden also signed a bipartisan bill that provided $1.2 trillion in funding for infrastructure development.

However, despite holding a strong majority in the House, Biden and congressional Democrat leadership have struggled to pass legislation through the Senate, which is evenly divided, albeit Vice President Kamala Harris wields the tie-breaking vote as chamber president.

Part of Biden's infrastructure agenda through the Build Back Better Act has yet to make it past the Senate due to concerns from fellow Democrat Joe Manchin. Defections from the party line, both by moderate Democrats in the Senate and progressive Democrats in the House, have raised questions about party unity.

In addition, California State University Political Science Professor Beau Grosscup believes Biden has failed many liberals and progressives by failing to fight the ruling class.

"He has not pushed on promises that would help the economy, like student debt relief reform, upping minimum wage, taxing wealthy tax resisters," Grosscup told Sputnik. "The Biden administration remains guided by the priorities of Wall Street."

Biden's foreign policy agenda was dominated by the Afghan withdrawal, reforging relationships with allies, and tensions with Russia over Ukraine.

Biden came under fire from both sides of the aisle for not being visible during a key stretch when the Taliban seized Kabul in August while many refugees and Americans were stranded at the airport. An attack on US forces during the evacuation left 13 service members dead.

With regard to his aggressive stances against countries like Russia, Grosscup argued that Biden in some cases is using foreign policy as a distraction from his domestic problems.

"His only out is to attempt to convince the citizens that foreign powers - Russia, China - are threatening US national security to the extent that nothing else matters," Grosscup said. "He is trying hard to do that."

The Biden administration in its first year has rebooted negotiations with Iran over compliance with the nuclear agreement. The president on Wednesday said "it's not time to give up," on the talks given some progress is being made.

Some experts see grim prospects in the coming year for Biden on the political and economic fronts, which they think will result in the Democrats losing control of Congress.

"The economy looks like it's going into genuine recession because with Bidenomics... rates will have to rise a lot - to 8% on the long bond - to curb inflation," former merchant banker and financial analyst Martin Hutchinson told Sputnik. "Rates won't rise that much, so they'll get the worst of both worlds - stagnation plus inflation."

As a result, Hutchinson projects that in next November's midterms the Republicans are likely to seize control of both chambers by picking up two seats in the Senate and 18 in the House.

US political commentator Sam Husseini told Sputnik he thinks the public is still gripped by fear of covid and many are continuing to face economic distress. Meanwhile, he added, numerous foreign policy crises have escalated.

"This likely means Biden and his political associates will lose seats in November paving the way for a Republican majority in both the House and Senate," Husseini predicted.

Grosscup said the Democrats are in trouble if Biden does not take more aggressive steps to halt the spread of the virus.

"Unless he (Biden) gets more bullish on dealing nationally and internationally with the pandemic, he will fail," Grosscup warned.