By Ryan Chou
On January 20th, 2021, Joe Biden took the oath of office and became the 46th President of the United States. Going into the job, Biden undeniably had a lot on his plate, including an economy in rough shape, record numbers of COVID-19 cases, and record levels of political polarization after the January 6th insurrection. So, how does his performance score to date? There are five key issues that will be considered in this piece: the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration, the climate crisis, the economy, and international relations.
One of the most important tasks Biden faced with (and is continuing to face) is battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the Biden Administration, the difficulty of properly distributing the vaccines from Operation Warpspeed was solved, with vaccine supply actually exceeding demand in the United States. His insistence on following scientific data and urging for mask-wearing and social distancing also promoted taking the crisis seriously and ultimately defeating it. And with cases now at the lowest point since the fall and over 100 million Americans fully vaccinated, Biden’s handling of the COVID crisis absolutely deserves the 63% approval rating he has on it. When it comes to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, President Biden earns an A+.
Biden also promised to reverse Trump’s border policies during his campaign, but has he lived up to this? President Biden has ended the Trump administration’s practice of family separation, but there are also still families who need to be reunited. And while the refugee cap was raised to 62,500 from a low of 15,000, it was initially set to stay at 15,000 for 2021 before public outcry led to an increase in the cap. Also, children were placed in Adult Customs and Border Protection facilities, but, to be fair, the influx of unaccompanied children at the border surged in recent months, and over 80% of them were soon transferred out. Biden has made progress in this area to be proud of, but there have been many slip-ups that drive away from the humility that was promised. The commander-in-chief gets a C+ in immigration.
Under the Biden Administration, the United States has taken initiatives towards leading the fight against climate change. In his first 100 days in office, America has rejoined the Paris Climate Accords, started up the National Climate Task Force to start plans targeted at cutting carbon emissions in half by 2030, and laid out a $2 trillion infrastructure bill that sets aside $1 trillion towards funding renewable energy. However, since the infrastructure bill is deadlocked in Congress and hasn’t made significant progress toward passing, we have yet to see if these goals will be achieved. Biden gets a B+ in dealing with the climate crisis.
As for the economy, quite a bit has happened in Biden’s first 100 days. Included in Biden’s tenure in office so far are a $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus bill with $1,400 stimulus checks, 1.5 million jobs created, and a quarterly GDP growth of 6.4%, but the 1.5 million jobs is likely a result of the economy continuing to recover from COVID lockdowns, and the April jobs report showed a disappointing 266,000 jobs added. However, the weak showing in the recent jobs report is a double edged sword; while it is concerning that not as many people are returning to their jobs, it also gives workers more leverage over massive corporations to get fair wages and working conditions where they do not exist. Many factors when it comes to the economy in Biden’s first 100 days just aren’t in his control, and these are situations that will need more time to play out. On the economy, the president gets an A-.
The international situation has continued to boil throughout Biden’s first 100 days. The president has launched sanctions against China for its conduct towards the Uyghur Muslims and increased sanctions on Russia to an unignorable level in response to the levying of bounties on American troops in Afghanistan, cyber attacks, and other actions. However, the administration has also continued to support Israel even as it continues to become clear that Palestinians are being systemically oppressed, with just 1.7% of the Israeli state budget going towards Palestinians, who make up 20% of the population, and the continued existence of as many as 65 laws outright discriminating against the Palestinian population among other egregious acts. While Biden is being tough on China and Russia for good reason, his unwillingness to truly and strongly acknowledge the crisis that is occurring against Palestinians as well leaves him at a C.
Biden’s first 100 days is by no means perfect, and while there have been plenty of mistakes and poor decisions that have been made, Biden still gets a B+ for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, generally strong strides in handling climate change, and other positive acts that should be celebrated.