Year into Joe Biden presidency, his administration has been a decidedly mixed bag — at best

YORK DISPATCH EDITORIAL BOARD
  • Joe Biden shepherded a $1 trillion infrastructure bill through Congress. He wanted $4 trillion.
  • Under Biden, more than 63% of Americans are vaccinated. Other nations, however, are doing better.
  • The national unemployment rate is 3.9%. The national inflation rate is 7%.
  • The United States has gotten out of Afghanistan, but the exit was anythging but smooth.
President Joe Biden speaks about the end of the war in Afghanistan from the White House on Aug. 31 in Washington.

Thursday will mark the one-year anniversary of Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th president of the United States.

So, nearly 12 months after that historic day, how should we judge the performance of our newest national leader?

Well, one word seems to best fit — incomplete — and that may be a bit generous, especially considering his party narrowly controls both houses of Congress.

>>Please consider subscribing to support local journalism.

In fact, Biden’s inability to effectively manage his own party may be his biggest failure. At times, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema seem to be the real power brokers in Washington these days.

Meanwhile, nearly every Biden accomplishment seems paired with a disappointment.

By the numbers: Stats that tell story of Biden's first year

For instance:

Infrastructure: He shepherded a $1 trillion bi-partisan infrastructure bill through a bitterly divided Congress. That’s certainly a good thing, but it’s only about a quarter of the $4 trillion in infrastructure spending that he proposed.

Vaccinations: He spearheaded a campaign to get Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 and, at the moment, about 63.5% of us have gotten the jab. Unfortunately, there are many nations with higher rates and Biden has, regrettably, made little headway in convincing the anti-vaxx minority to change their minds.

Economy: He’s overseen a boom in employment. The jobless rate sits at less than 4% and pretty much anyone who wants a job can find one. In fact, there’s a severe shortage of workers in many industries. That’s pretty impressive, considering he inherited a coronavirus-plagued economy with unemployment at 6.4%. At the same time, however, inflation has soared to 7%, severely hindering the spending power of every American.

Afghanistan: He got us out of the Afghanistan quagmire after two long and deadly decades that cost us the lives of nearly 2,500 American soldiers. The exit, however, was anything but a success. Thirteen U.S. troops died in a suicide bombing at the gate of Kabul’s airport during the messy U.S. evacuation of more than 124,000 from the country. That evacuation left behind scores of Americans and tens of thousands of Afghan allies. 

Confirmations: He managed to get 41 federal judges confirmed, more than any of his recent predecessors at the same time in their presidencies. Of those, 80% are women and 53% are people of color, according to the White House. At the same time, his nominees that required Senate approval needed an average of 103 days to get confirmed. That’s longer than in the first years of the previous six administrations and nearly three times longer than during Ronald Reagan’s first year in office.

Media: Biden has been significantly more truthful with the media than his predecessor, but that’s an exceedingly low bar. He has misspoken and occasionally misled. Even worse, he’s had just nine news conferences, with a 10th set for Wednesday. That’s fewer news conferences than any of his five immediate predecessors at the same point in their presidencies.

Put it all together and it’s a decidedly mixed bag.

His Democratic supporters are frustrated by his lack of accomplishments and his Republican opponents are delighting in his misfortunes. That likely explains his low approval ratings.

There is good news.

First, he still has three years left in his term to rectify his problems.

Second, he is still a significant improvement over his predecessor.