REVIEW - Biden's First 2 Years Mixed Bag Of Successes, Setbacks In Domestic, Foreign Policy

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 20th January, 2023) US President Joe Biden's arrival at the White House in January 2021 was viewed by many as a so-called "return to normalcy" after the turbulent years of Donald Trump, but his administration has had to contend with multiple crises, both new and old, over the last two years.

This Friday, January 20, marks the second anniversary of Biden being sworn in as president and promising to unite the country in his inaugural address, with his admin racking up wins and losses along the way.

Biden's major success during his time in office was the passing of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 pandemic relief legislation as well as a bipartisan bill that provided $1.2 trillion in funding for infrastructure development.

Even though the overly ambitious $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill died in Congress due to the intransigence of Democrat Senator Joe Manchin over inflation concerns, some of its proposals also found their way into the compromise Inflation Reduction Act.

Despite Manchin catching a lot of flack from his fellow Democrats, his worries were not unfounded as the record-high inflation has been a fixture of American life in 2022. There has been a heated debate about its causes, with some attributing it to Biden's injection of cash into the US economy and others pointing out other factors, such as the aftereffect of the pandemic and the ongoing energy and economic crises due to the conflict in Ukraine.

Biden himself tried to pin the blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin, coining the term "Putin price hikes." However, it is hard to dispute that the Biden admin's claims about inflation being temporary proved to be wishful thinking. Washington is having a difficult time managing the situation, which does not bode well for the country.

The rising inflation is not Biden's only headache. He has also been pilloried by critics for his handling, or rather lack thereof, of the migration crisis on the country's southern border with the number of crossings hitting record numbers last year.

In response, the administration has recently adopted a carrot-and-stick approach by expanding opportunities for legal migration combined with increased expulsions. While it is too early to predict how the situation will play out, the approach itself has already drawn criticism from both immigration advocates and restrictionists for either taking a page from Donald Trump's playbook or not doing enough to strengthen border security.

In 2022, the Biden administration also announced a plan to forgive up to $10,000 in Federal student loan debt for people earning less than $125,000 a year and up to $20,000 for those who received Pell grants. The initiative, however, has been blocked by two separate court rulings, pushing the matter up to the Supreme Court.

A major test for the Biden administration came in the form of the 2022 midterm elections seen as a referendum on the presidency. It resulted in Democrats losing the House to Republicans but still keeping their narrow Senate majority.

Nevertheless, this outcome fell short of a strong wave of support for the GOP that was expected by many as even the party's gains in the House were lower than predicted. This indicates that whatever problems the Biden White House has, its Republican opponents are unable to use them to score massive electoral wins the way they did during Barack Obama's first term.

After Biden's win in 2020, many countries and international organizations breathed a sigh of relief, expecting the new occupant of the White House to move the US foreign policy toward multilateralism and international cooperation abandoned by his predecessor.

While some of Biden 's actions indicated a move in that direction, such as rejoining the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accord, in other respects Biden's foreign policy seems to follow Trump's blueprints, albeit not as shambolic.

Among other things, Biden is seemingly sticking to Trump's hawkish approach to China, with the focus on economic competition and tariffs. In fact, Washington opened a new front in the trade war with Beijing, introducing new restrictions to limit China's access to advanced US semiconductor technology. This, alongside the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, aims to shore up US technological advantage over its Asian rival.

Another Trump-like move was the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan, which resulted in a wave of criticism over the lackluster way in which it was implemented as well as the subsequent collapse of the Afghan government under the Taliban (under UN sanctions over terrorist activities) assault.

At the same time, under Biden, the United States has reasserted its role as the leader of the Western world after Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine almost a year ago, with Washington spearheading the effort to impose sanctions on Moscow, including on its energy products, as well as provide Kiev with weapons and military equipment.

Biden's first two years in the presidential chair have not been all about policy debates and political crises but also his multiple slips of the tongue and public blunders, varying from mildly amusing to offensive.

These include the president being caught reading his teleprompter instructions out loud, exiting the stage the wrong way, calling Vice President Kamala Harris"president"several times, mis-remembering the number of US states, and thanking "the prime minister of Colombia" instead of Cambodia for the leadership as ASEAN chair during a speech at the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh.

These and many other gaffes have been a source of amusement for some andconcern for others, with Biden critics using them as prime examples of the elderly president not being able to lead the country.

Not surprisingly, Biden's approval took a hit in the process. According to the FiveThirtyEight's analysis based on multiple polls, Biden started with 53% approval rating in January 2021 only to end up with 43.4% two years later, going as low as 37.5% at some time.