Biden’s first year in office at a glance 

January 21, 2022 - 17:53

One year into his four-year term, U.S. President Joe Biden's public approval rating has fallen to the lowest level so far, as Americans appear to be exhausted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic toll it has taken on their livelihoods. That is according to a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll.

In what will be unwelcome news for the White House, the national poll which was conducted on January 19-20, found that 52% of U.S. adults disapproved of Biden’s achievements in office, while 43% approved while the rest said they were not sure. 

Just a week earlier, a separate poll put the American President at a 45% approval rating and 50% disapproval. 

In his first months in office, Biden’s popularity was above 50%. It began dropping in mid-August as COVID-19 deaths surged across the states and the U.S.-backed Afghan government collapsed, with the latest survey dropping to 43% that’s more than seven percentage points.

The latest findings caps off what analysts say has been a difficult first year in office both on the domestic international front.

On the domestic side, the slump in the American President’s popularity will be ringing alarm bells for his Democratic Party, amid deep concerns it may cost them their Congressional majorities in the 2022 midterm elections. 

Should the Republicans take control of either the U.S. House of Representatives or the Senate, Biden's legislative agenda will be all but finished. 

To mark his first anniversary in office, Biden held a rare White House news conference where he acknowledged the public’s frustration but vowed to make progress by battling some major challenges such as the pandemic and record inflation levels that hit an almost 40-year high last month. 

Critics however say the news conference didn't help Biden, with some calling it a total disaster.

Analysts say with an opposition that is determined to change the political landscape to ensure he falls, Biden lacks the political leadership,  capacity, and energy to influence all members of his own party to stand firmly behind their President. 

Biden is now heading into his second year having not made any significant progress on his key campaign pledges, including voting rights, police and immigration reform, the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change. This is despite the fact that his own Democratic Party controls all branches of the legislature. 

His agenda for the most part is stalled in Congress; again mostly because of his inability to unify his own party. 

Biden promised to protect voting rights during his campaign, but his voting rights bill failed in the Senate because of Democrats who are opposed to abolishing the filibuster precedent. 

Democrats also got in the way of Biden passing his “Build Back Better Act”, which contains $555 billion in proposed climate action. The landmark bill named after his 2020 campaign slogan is all but dead amid infighting within his own party.

Biden pledged to immediately deliver "criminal justice reform" for racial equality, following months of protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s daylight public murder by a white police officer; but in March last year, he backed away from the plan. 

Instead he decided to back “the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act”, which passed the House without any Republican support. But the bill did not advance in the Senate, and it all fell apart in September. 

On the campaign trail, Biden spoke of his immediate priority to contain the COVID-19 crisis, yet he has been widely criticized for his handling of the pandemic as the omicron variant surges across the country with record numbers.

Another immediate priority Biden pledged to address was to “reform our long-broken and chaotic immigration system."

The Biden administration has come under heavy criticism for its handling of asylum seekers on the southern border, with analysts accusing the administration of having maintained Trump-era policies that were introduced in 2019 and were subject to international outcry amid images of children separated from their parents and kept in cages. 

On the international front, the U.S. President used his first address before a global audience to declare that “America is back”. A vow to reset the United States’ standing in the world and repair ties with its allies after its disorderly Trump era. 

Biden’s first year in office has been rocked by multiple foreign-policy crises from Kabul to Kiev that have heavily set back the president’s “America is back” agenda.

Attempts to tackle climate change, a top Biden campaign promise, have hit hurdles in Washington thanks to partisan gridlock.

Biden has tried to repair relations with U.S. allies in Europe, but those efforts have been overshadowed by the European Union’s humiliation over AUKUS, the Australia-U.K.-U.S. submarine deal. Quite the blunder that would only widen a diplomatic rift between Washington and Brussels; with European Union leaders rallying around France which claims the U.S. secretly went behind its back to strike a deal that Australia had already agreed to with Paris.

The French foreign minister said “this brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr. Trump used to do. I am angry and bitter. This isn’t done between allies. It’s really a stab in the back.”

Those words were echoed by France’s top allies in Europe as well as senior EU leaders.

The way Biden’s decision to pull the plug on the U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan, ending a 20-year war, erupted in nothing short of absolute chaos and led to a massive new humanitarian crisis as the Taliban re-took control of the country. 

The disastrous pullout and abandonment of the former Afghan government has left strong question marks among U.S. allies (around the world) about just how much they can continue to rely on Washington for their own security. 

Critics also argue that by continuing Washington’s foreign policy agenda towards the east in particular China, Russia and Iran is just a continuation of attempts to destabilize the regions that will end up in failure. 

Nothing has been done to end the ongoing war on Yemen. The Biden White House continues to support the war. It is silent when Yemeni women and children are killed in almost daily airstrikes using Western-made bombs but is very quick to issue statements of condemnation should Yemen retaliate against the ongoing bombardment and all-out blockade that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and left millions of others on the brink of starvation. 

When it comes to the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the U.S. President vowed to return to the 2015 international treaty that his predecessor withdrew from. However, Joe Biden has maintained Donald Trump’s so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran which has, in essence, killed and affected ordinary people, including cancer patients, children with rare diseases and prevented Iran from purchasing much needed vital medical equipment during a pandemic, leaving the country with the highest death toll from the pandemic in West Asia. 

The illegal U.S. occupation of Iraq and Syria continues, which analysts say is allowing terrorists to regroup and destabilize both countries. The U.S military is also accused of stealing Syria’s oil to prevent the country from using the revenue to provide vital services to its people after ten years of foreign-backed militancy.

Analysts say the first year can be summed up by a lack of strong leadership, and promises that failed to materialize into anything substantial. With the November mid-term election on the horizon, time is not on Biden’s side. 

He could lose control of power he had during his first year to make effective changes. Essentially, as his popularity continues to take a hit; heading into his second year in office, Biden now needs to act and act fast to save his position.

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