Evaluating the Biden administration after one year

Tyler Kavalecz / Broadcast Manager

     Unlike a smooth, straight-line bullet train, the Biden administration’s first year has been like a ride at Cedar Point; filled with countless peaks and valleys, highs and lows. 

     After taking office, President Joe Biden did not waste time in trying to make change. In his first 100 days in office, he issued 106 executive actions, with 42 of those being executive orders. The number of executive actions Biden issued was more than his three predecessors, Trump, Obama and Bush combined in that time span.

     Possibly more significant, is the number of Biden’s executive orders that repealed Trumps’ past orders. Out of his 42 executive orders in his first 100 days, 20 revoked former Trump-era orders. Some of Biden’s actions included halting funding for Trump’s border wall, reversing Trump’s travel ban that targeted mainly Muslim countries, imposing a mask manndate on federal properties, ramping up vaccine supplies, canceling the Keystone XL pipeline and reversing Trump’s ban on transgender Americans joining the military.

     While signing executive actions seemingly every day, Biden was also working on creating a diverse cabinet, something that Democrats heavily supported. Biden established a cabinet that was substantially more diverse than his predecessors’, with large percentages of the leaders being either minorities or women.

     Although Biden accomplished two of his early goals with his executive actions and cabinet, America had to wait over 60 days before they formally heard from the new president. Biden did not hold a formal press conference until nine weeks into his presidency, an unprecedented wait, longer than any other president in modern history. Unsurprisingly, this was met with backlash across the country, especially among Republicans and conservatives.

     One of Biden’s most significant, yet underlying accomplishments is his rapid-paced appointing of federal judges. Biden has appointed 45 article three judges who have been confirmed by the Senate through Feb. 1, the most such appointments through that point in all presidencies since 1981. For comparison, his predecessor, Trump, had 24 appointees confirmed by the Senate during the same time frame of his presidency. 

     Along with appointing a large number of federal judges, Biden will have his choice at a Supreme Court justice, with Justice Stephen Breyer recently announcing he will retire from the nation’s highest court at the end of the current term. The departure of Breyer, the oldest justice on the bench, will allow Biden to follow through on his promise of nominating a black woman to the Supreme Court. 

     Another one of the most surprising successes of the Biden administration’s first year has been job creation. Employers added a record 6.6 million jobs during Biden’s first 12 months in office, by far the most by any president’s first year since the number was tracked. 

     But, one could argue that the main reason so many jobs have been created under Biden is because of timing. Biden took office just as Covid-19 vaccines were becoming available and the economy was enjoying a natural recovery.

     On the other side of the aisle, it can be argued that many of the jobs created have been due to the massive $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package. Some economists have argued that the package added almost four million jobs, on top of around three million jobs that would likely have been added even without the package.

     Although the unemployment rate has declined under Biden’s first year, inflation has not. During the first year of the Biden administration inflation has skyrocketed, creating issues with supply chains across the country, along with prices, especially pertaining to gas prices. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the average price of gas for the country has risen almost a full dollar over the past year.

     Inflation, the driving cause of these issues, skyrocketed to its highest rate in 40 years, with consumer prices increasing 7.5% over the past 12 months. This increase forced the average American household to spend an extra $276 per month. Over the past year, energy rose 27%, with fuel oil and gasoline individually rising 46.5% and 40% respectively.

     While inflation was predicted to rise over the past year, the actual number overshot the Dow Jones estimates. Much of this is due to the Biden administration’s misreading of the situation, with government spending having gone through the roof during Biden’s first year in office.

     Arguably the most glaring negative through Biden’s first year in office is the United States’ pullout from Afghanistan. In short, it is one of the biggest diplomatic and international failures in recent memory, and honestly, an embarrassment for the country.

     Another disaster for the Biden administration through their first year has been the U.S.-Mexico border. Biden repeatedly called out former President Trump for his policies and handling of the illegal immigrant situation at the border, but Biden has failed to correct the situation, with it further deteriorating under his watch.

     According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than two million unauthorized migrants were apprehended or turned in after crossing the border in 2021. Those figures only show those who have been caught, excluding the thousands that crossed the border successfully, and illegally last year.

     Biden has tried his best to reverse almost all of Trump’s policies with the border. The current president called his predecessors’ ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy “inhumane” when Trump established it. Yet, Biden’s administration has reinstated that very same policy and enforced it, due to how bad the border crisis has gotten.

     All of this is just a glimpse of the full view of the Biden administration’s first year in office. In my opinion, along with his international failures, some of Biden’s biggest failures have been his shortcomings in uniting the country, both political parties and even his own political party. 

     Overall, the administration’s first year lacked consistency, with constant fluctuation between high and low points, with the lows being more extreme than the highs. However, I am cautiously optimistic that the administration’s second year will be more consistent and successful.

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