US President Joe Biden: Unloved and thwarted

Status: 02.11.2021 03:27 a.m.

A year ago, Biden was elected US president – with expectations as great as promises. But the balance sheet after twelve months is meager – and the majority of Americans are dissatisfied.

By Julia Kastein, ARD-Studio Washington

Earlier this week in Glasgow, Scotland: Joe Biden conjures up the eyes of history at the climate conference that would rest on the gathering. The choice is easy, according to the US President: either the governments acted and seized the opportunity – or by doing nothing they would bring suffering to future generations.

Julia Kastein
ARD-Studio Washington

“I expect more”

In Glasgow, Biden was more than welcome with this message – because he made sure that the United States is at the table at the climate conference again. But at home, the dissatisfaction with the president is all the greater. Over half of Americans think Biden is not doing a good job right now. Only with his predecessor Donald Trump were the approval ratings even worse ten months after taking office.

Regardless of whether it’s about the economy, the pandemic or his competence: Biden has been getting worse and worse grades for months. And over 70 percent of Americans think their country is headed in the wrong direction. Many democratic voters are also disaffected.

Hope Nelson, for example, from a suburb of Washington. On this day, the 41-year-old is out and about at the farmers’ market, while in the background the Republicans are campaigning for their candidate for governor. “So far, the Democrats haven’t used the power they got from the electorate,” says Nelson. You chose Biden. “Disappointment is perhaps too strong a word. But I expect more.”

Half a social and climate package

At the moment, of all people, the Democrats themselves are blocking Biden’s reform and investment agenda: the president wants to invest over a trillion US dollars in the ailing infrastructure. Another 1.75 trillion in tax breaks for families, in free kindergarten places and the fight against the climate crisis. But Biden’s original plans did not go far enough for the left wing of the party – and two more conservative senators went far too far.

For months, Biden personally tried to change her mind. A few days ago he then cut the social and climate package in half. He then tried to sell the compromise he had hoped for as proof of his ability to unite the camps: “Nobody gets everything. Not even me. But this is what consensus looks like. And that’s where I started,” said the US President.

But the Democrats have still not passed the legislative packages. And the Republicans are sticking to their fundamental opposition in spite of Biden’s long-term requests for cooperation. What the Democrats presented was visionary – but not a vision America wanted, said Mitch McConnell, parliamentary group leader in the Senate. And so the Republicans would continue to fight Biden’s agenda at every step.

Biden is running out of time

Not even a year in office is Biden running out of time: mid-term elections will be held in November 2022. In just twelve months, the Democrats are threatened with losing their current narrow majority in both chambers. Then the US president would no longer have a chance to cast his other plans – from immigration to electoral reform – into laws. Like his predecessor Trump, he would have to rule by decree.

Biden’s internal party critics seem unimpressed. In any case, Joe Manchin, a Senator from West Virginia and one of the two renegades, said he would not allow himself to be blackmailed. Some people only want to vote for the social and climate package when the actual costs are clear.

But it’s not that far yet. “The political games must finally be over,” said Manchin. His president should see it that way.

Unpopular and slowed down: US President Biden one year after his election

Julia Kastein, ARD Washington, November 1, 2021 11:57 p.m.

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