Matt Hagan, Advanced Staff Accountant
As we look back on the first year of the Biden presidency, it has had its ups and downs, not unlike the presidencies of the past. There have been challenges and defeats, as well as successes. Between a pandemic that seems to linger on like a bad dream, and the controversial withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Biden has had his hands full.
A president’s first year in the Oval Office is the proving ground for what the next few years will hold. Will the campaign promises come to fruition? Can they hold up under the constant pressure and deliver on the platform that they were elected on? Will history show they were a competent and well supported president, or one that was weak and left a legacy of failure?
The biggest obstacle President Biden would immediately face was the seemingly never ending Coronavirus pandemic. First coming in to the spotlight in December of 2019, it has ebbed and flowed, with at least two new variants so far. In addition to causing the deaths of 800,000 people and having potential long lasting effects, it has also seemed to further the divide between the left and right. One of Biden’s main weapons in the fight against the virus was the vaccine, and he launched a massive effort into getting as many people as possible vaccinated in the shortest amount of time. He mandated that federal workers receive the vaccine, and encouraged the private sector to do so as well. This is being pushed back against strongly in certain segments of the population, and in some of the more conservative states. As of now, over 200 million people in the United States have received at least one dose of the vaccine. In addition to strongly encouraging the vaccine, he also engineered a $1.9 trillion Covid relief deal. This package included assistance for local and state governments, provided homeowners with relief, and continued the economic impact payments that began in President Trumps last year in office.
In August, President Biden declared he would withdraw American forces from Afghanistan after almost 20 years of military presence in the country. This drew both harsh criticism and strong praise from both sides of the political aisle. It was only a short period of time before the Taliban reestablished their rule, and terrorist attacks were seen as the United States evacuated the troops. President Biden defended his actions, stating, “The buck stops with me. I do not regret my decision.”
A $1 trillion infrastructure bill was introduced that will hopefully shore up some of the aging roads, bridges, and waterway systems across our country. In addition, the bill is designed to improve the flow of goods and supplies across the United States. Supply chain disruptions and shortages of goods have plagued much of the country since the beginning of the pandemic, hurting both consumers and businesses. The Build Back Better plan that Biden proposed has not been passed yet, and it appears as though it may not any time in the near future. This agenda included additional funding for Covid relief, social welfare programs, and funding allocated for the reduction of effects caused by climate change.
The economic picture of this presidency has been a mixed bag so far. An unemployment rate of 3.9%, the lowest since February 2020, has been touted by Democrats as a win. On the other end of the spectrum, inflation rates have topped out at a whopping 7.0%, the highest in the United States since 1982. Some people would say that while having the majority of the people working is wonderful, if they can’t afford goods and services, what have we really gained?
There are no perfect people, and there has never been or ever will be a perfect President. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or something else the success of the President is your success. This is not an opinion piece; I leave the reader to come up with those on their own. But I would encourage each of us to look past our own political leanings and work together for the good of the country if we are to last another 200 years.