Price on Politics: The Biden-Harris administration, a year and some change later

Megan+Fisher

Megan Fisher

Price Wilborn, Commentary writer

Just over one year ago, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as the 46th President and 49th Vice President, respectively. 

Since the inauguration, Biden has worked to create compromise on Capitol Hill to get his agenda through Congress. 

There have been some successes. The American Rescue plan was passed to provide more relief to American families during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This consisted of, among other things, more stimulus checks for families.

In November 2020, Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law. According to whitehouse.gov, “the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will rebuild crumbling road and bridges, replace lead pipes, help provide high-speed internet to every family in America, and produce concrete results that change people’s lives for the better.” The implementation of the law will also bring jobs to more Americans.

This is the largest legislative win for the president to date. Biden prides himself on bringing bipartisanship, yet the John Lewis Voting Rights Act has been effectively killed because of the inability to bridge the gap between Democrats in Congress. The stalling of this bill because of the lack of Democratic compromise does not even allow for talks to begin with Republicans.

Biden’s flagship Build Back Better bill has also been stalled in Congress. The White House states that “this framework will set the United States on course to meet its climate goals, create millions of good-paying jobs, enable more Americans to join and remain in the labor force, and grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out.”

This bill contains provisions to deliver on the promises that Biden made during the 2020 campaign. The large price tag–nearly $2 trillion–is the biggest hurdle. Negotiations with both Democrats and Republicans on how to cut this down have been the main source of disagreement.

During the 2020 campaign, Biden promised to cancel student debt for many Americans. Since taking office, Biden has worked with Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to explore legal options and executive authority the president may have for canceling the debt.

As part of his ongoing COVID-19 relief, Biden has also extended pauses on student loan repayment through May 1 of this year.

On the world stage, Biden has worked to restore America’s image as a cooperative and helpful global powerhouse while making sure those working against American interests and survival are no longer accepted as allies. Biden’s foreign tours through Europe and Asia have helped to restore this image. The escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine are showing Biden’s aptness for foreign policy.

In his inaugural address, Biden said that the nation would “press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and possibility. Much to repair. Much to restore, Much to heal. Much to build. And much to gain.”

The work Biden has done has shown him to be a president capable of following through on promises made during the campaign. He has been able to begin to affect meaningful change and provide assistance to Americans that need it, whether it be because of the pandemic or otherwise.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has followed through on the promises to create new jobs and improve infrastructure across the nation, bettering the lives of millions of Americans.

The American Rescue Plan put money in the pockets of Americans during a time where they needed it most.

Biden’s continued determination to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Build Back Better Plan show that the president is committed to creating a safer, more equal, and more equitable nation that will eventually be left in the hands of young Americans.

Biden has shown himself unable to take full advantage of this “winter of peril and possibility” that he spoke of at the Capitol last year, however. His approval ratings are low, with only 43% of Americans approving of the job that he is doing.

While he has done truly meaningful work, the president has been unable to prove this to the American people. He has been unable to instill hope in the hearts of Americans. Hope that the nation will become better. Hope that all people will have the opportunity to reach the American Dream, whatever that may be for them.

This hasn’t been entirely Biden’s fault. Republicans and moderate Democrats have blocked legislation that threatens their reelection chances. Biden has proven himself unable to work across the aisle, however, like he prided himself on during his time in the Senate and as Vice President.

It is Biden’s fault, however, that the nation has been unable to see past this. Biden has been unable to effectively connect with young Americans, as well as those across the aisle. While the effort has been made through outlets like social media and news networks, it has proven unsuccessful. 

At times, even, it seems like the administration is trying too hard. It is trying too hard on making sure differences are seen between the current administration and the one that preceded it. While I understand the importance of this distinction, it is important to allow the work to speak for itself. While the media is important in making sure the president connects with the people, it cannot become the sole director of where the administration feels it should go.

Creating relationships with the media, reporters and the people are important, but not as important as the work itself.

If the nation is to see the Biden-Harris administration for what it is–determined to make this nation better for all, not just those who support it–then it must not provide bias against media outlets. It must not engage in arguments during press conferences and instead treat the questions as what they are–inquiries by portions of the American people, however small that portion may be.

The Biden administration must also soon make decisions on issues like student loan forgiveness and reach agreements on things like the Build Back Better bill. If the president wishes to leave a nation that makes the American Dream achievable and equal opportunities available to all, these are key issues that must be addressed sooner rather than later.

Biden has always felt that bipartisanship is the best way to get things done. He has prided himself on his ability to work with Republicans. Since the inauguration, this prowess has remained unseen. The White House’s inability to prevent Democratic infighting has prevented Biden from being able to reach across the aisle. It creates the sense of chaos and unorganization, which is exactly what the administration doesn’t need right now.

Actions so far have shown the desire to make a nation worthy of the leadership of future generations, but more action must be taken; more effort must be made.

The Biden administration is doing important work. It’s doing good work. It’s time, though, for it to make sure that the people see this work and not the petty squabbles that take place between the administration and those in the media or on Capitol Hill.

It’s time for the Biden-Harris administration to do what it was elected to do–lead.

Commentary writer Price Wilborn can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @pricewilborn.