Biden building back better? A year in review

Last week Thursday was the one-year anniversary of the inauguration of President Joseph Robinette Biden. Like any president, his first 100 days in office were highly eventful and marked the time in his presidency when the country was watching the closest. However, many major events have happened outside of that timeframe as well, which often get ignored.

The issue at the forefront of everyone’s mind has been the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic. While Biden promised that he had a plan to get the virus “under control,” it has turned out to be a much bigger job than many expected. Almost two years since the first cases in the United States, and we seem to be a long way from normalcy. That said, Biden achieved numerous important milestones throughout his first year. In March, 100 million doses of the vaccine were administered across the country, and there has been a slow but steady crawl towards the 63 percent vaccination rate that we have now. When the vaccine was first administered, daily COVID cases dropped below 10,000 for the first time in a year. A huge campaign promise that Biden delivered on was the 1.9 trillion dollar relief package. This included the expansion of childcare services, more funding for healthcare-related to the COVID-19 pandemic and $1,400 checks for almost every citizen.

Another big campaign promise was the 1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill. This passed in Congress with bipartisan support and included funding for public transit, the replacement of lead pipes, electric vehicle chargers and, as always, fixing the roads and bridges across America. The combination of these two bills has drawn criticism from more debt-minded lawmakers and pundits. So far over the course of Biden’s presidency, the national debt has increased by approximately 2 trillion dollars. While the national debt has been increasing since 1835, it is a larger increase than most presidents undertook in their first year.

Joe Biden was also able to create a record number of jobs in his first year in office. A total of 6.4 million were created across the nation, with unemployment dropping to just 3.9 percent. Wages have also begun to rise with many states instituting new minimum wage laws, as well as employers simply paying their employees more. The recent labor shortage has helped this immensely. That said, Biden’s critics have pointed out that the last year has also been marked by rapid inflation. Higher wages don’t mean as much when inflation makes your money worth less than before. However, Biden isn’t exactly to blame for this inflation, as the printing of money and federal interest rates are controlled by the Federal Reserve, a governing body outside of the president’s direct control.

A low point during the first year came towards the end, with crucial parts of Biden’s own “Build Back Better” agenda and the much-anticipated voting rights bill both stalling in the Senate. These were both big campaign promises that made up a large part of Biden’s platform throughout the election. The aforementioned infrastructure bill was only the first part of his plan. The rest revolved around technological innovation, sustainability and environmental justice. Unfortunately, the cost of these programs would total around two trillion dollars and were blocked in the Senate despite passing in the House of Representatives. 

Similarly, the voting rights bill was unable to pass through the Senate after going through the House. According to NPR, this bill would “make Election Day a national holiday, aimed at making it easier for all voters to get to the polls that day.” It would also “allow states to have early voting for at least two weeks prior to Election Day, including nights and weekends.” Some of the more controversial parts would “allow voting by mail with no excuses needed, and voters could put their ballots in drop boxes; require that states make voting more accessible for people with disabilities; and require that states that require IDs for voting would have to broaden the types of identification acceptable.” Lastly, “states would also have to offer same-day voting registration and online registration and also make it easier to register at places like departments of motor vehicles.” While it may have stalled for now, Biden is considering changing the rules of the filibuster in order to allow it to pass without a two-thirds, cloture vote.

So far, Biden’s presidency has had some good moments and some bad, the same as literally every president in history. I personally wish Biden the absolute best in the next 3+ years. Mostly because I, for one, am sick of these insane gas prices.

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