Friday, May 27

Biden celebrates one year after his inauguration surrounded by crisis (Analysis)

(CNN) –– Early in his term, United States President Joe Biden assured the country that had been chosen to solve problems. But, as this week marks the first anniversary of his inauguration, there are growing questions about whether he can deliver on this theory of his own presidency.

The White House seems increasingly hemmed in by the dire nature of the challenges Biden faces at home and abroad. Also undermined by some of its own strategic decisions and limited by small majorities in Congress. The Government bet that vaccines against covid-19 would have already ended the pandemic at this point. However, vaccination became politicized and millions of Americans chose not to get their doses. Everything, while the viral variants help to prolong the emergency.

A presidency under siege?

The sense that Biden is leading a beleaguered presidency was underscored again last week by a series of adverse blows. Among them, the torpedoing of two moderate Democrats at the impulse of the president to voting rights, in a challenge to his authority. Also, the Supreme Court’s blockade of vaccination and screening requirements for large companies, a central piece of its strategy against the pandemic. These setbacks also come as Biden’s social spending and climate change bills –– hallmarks of his presidency–– are also stalled in Congress, as is voting rights legislation, because moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin, West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona decline to add their support.

Biden ended the week accused by his critics of undermining his own initial promise to seek national unity, then comparing those who oppose voting rights reform to segregationists. In a symbol of the administration’s struggles, Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday will also stand as the fruitless deadline Senate Democrats set for signing voting rights bills into law on The measures — as well as the rule changes needed to pass them — are sure to fail unless Sinema and Manchin change their minds. Which only insists on the narrative of stagnation.

Biden and Harris criticize Republicans on voting rights 1:15

How Biden undermined his own authority

Biden’s self-imposed mission to solve problems is also hampered by the erosion of his own political capital. Which, precisely, has been affected by his repeated visits to the Capitol to urge his party to support his agenda, as well as by a series of missed deadlines to approve important bills. Meanwhile, skyrocketing inflation means many Americans are facing higher fuel and energy bills. Which makes them bitter in the face of an economy that has some bright spots as the pandemic progresses.

However, the panorama abroad is just as complicated. The Biden Government has difficulties in easing a crisis in Ukraine, amid fears that Russian President Vladimir Putin could invade and cause the worst geopolitical crisis in Europe since the Cold War. If Russia defies the West, Biden’s credibility will take another serious hit.

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midterm elections

All of these crises deepen as midterm elections ––traditionally a difficult experience for first-term presidents–– are beginning to take center stage. Which further narrows Biden’s path to legislative victories. The GOP and a conservative media machine dedicated to destroying his presidency — fueled in large part by former President Donald Trump’s anti-democratic cult of personality — are amplifying every hurdle and misstep of the administration.

All presidencies go through recessions and tough political times. The test of a president’s political skill is whether he can bounce back, reverse a narrative of failure, use his opponents as effective foils, and begin to direct events. The White House will try to do exactly that this week. And he is expected to use the anniversary of Biden’s inauguration as a platform for a reset.

Americans can expect words on the successes of the Biden presidency, including a bipartisan infrastructure bill, a covid-19 relief package that helped reduce child poverty, a low unemployment rate and the president’s work to repair alliances and eliminate the culture of lies from the White House after Trump’s term. The effort will include a rare formal press conference for the president at the White House on Wednesday, on the eve of the inauguration anniversary.

The tests facing Biden go further

What bills does Biden want Congress to support? 2:33

White House press secretary Jen Psaki argued last week that the president’s struggles were an occupational hazard of his willingness to tackle the nation’s toughest problems. And he added that, in that sense, he would continue pushing “the rocks uphill.”

But the problem for Biden is that all the tests he faces may threaten a radical turnaround. The legislative logjam in the Senate appears intractable and is due in part to a small Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. The welfare spending bill is intended to ease the plight of American workers. But the little effort by the White House to explain it leads many Americans to believe that the president is not focused enough on his immediate economic concerns.

A pandemic that does not let up

Meanwhile, the pandemic seems to repeatedly mock political leaders who have tried to rein it in and set dates for a return to normalcy. Putin’s entire foreign policy project seeks to weaken US power and undermine NATO. Which means that a compromise with him may be impossible without damaging US interests.

All of these complications lead to events frequently seeming to control a president struggling to keep up, rather than the other way around. Which implies a dangerous perception for any commander in chief.

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Did the White House aim too high?

Biden’s internal problems raise the question of whether the White House misread the nation’s political mood, as well as the realities of a difficult balance of power in Washington, by failing to effectively put forward a massive, multibillion-dollar reform program in the midst of the worst public health emergency in 100 years.

The main obstacle to having a narrow 50-50 Senate majority is that the objection of a single senator can derail an entire legislative agenda. That situation will not change any time soon, no matter how many hours Biden spends trying to persuade Manchin and Sinema, as he did at the White House last week. In fact, it could get quite bad very soon. There is a possibility that the Democrats will lose their majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate in November to the Republicans. A defeat that could leave Biden isolated in the White House and unable to pass his key bills, while his re-election campaign looms.

Biden lashes out at Trump a year after the assault on Capitol Hill 3:30

Biden approval ratings

Right now, the president’s approval ratings — in the low 40% range in some polls and even lower in others — are well below levels that could prevent a landslide victory for the Republicans in November. It’s imperative for Democrats that Biden recovers, but the president can only do so if he can get his entire party on the same page. As a candidate, Biden prospered because he won support from both wings of his party in a deft feat of political positioning. In power, that negotiation has collapsed.

The showdown over the “Build Back Better” climate and social spending bill exposed a divide between moderate Democrats, such as Manchin and Sinema, and progressives. In hindsight, it seems obvious that this division would stop the effort. Which, in turn, raises questions about the White House’s entire approach and why it thought it could pressure holdouts to drop their objections.

Key Democrats report dire status on Biden’s flagship bills

The Senate roadblock is also responsible for the failure of Democratic attempts to counter a national wave of voter suppression bills in Republican-controlled states, all of which are based on Trump’s voter fraud lies. Both Manchin and Sinema support the measures. However, they oppose changing the Senate’s filibuster rules—which dictate that most important laws need at least 60 votes to pass—to enact two voting rights bills that would make it easier to turn out and make more Difficult for politicized local officials to intervene in election results.

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Despite Biden pleading with both senators to change their minds last week, they only dug in deeper. In fact, Sinema delivered an extraordinary political rebuke to the president of her own party, in a high-profile Senate speech setting out her position just before he arrived on Capitol Hill to try to convince her and Manchin about the bills. Of law.

James Clyburn, one of the president’s main allies and House Majority Leader, admitted Sunday to CNN that the two bills, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, they were in serious trouble.

“They may be on life support,” the South Carolina Democrat told Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “But, you know, John Lewis, others, they didn’t give up after the Civil Rights Act of 1964… So I’m going to tell everyone that we’re not going to give up,” he added.

¿Y “Build Back Better”?

The perspectives of the Law Build Back Better They look just as bleak. The only hope of reviving any credit for Biden may lie in significantly reducing the measure so he can win Manchin’s support. The senator says he worries that a nearly $2 trillion bill will make inflation even worse. But a scaled-back proposal would anger progressives and could lower Democratic turnout in the midterm elections.

“You’re right that he’s dead. The most recent version is not going to happen,” Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia told Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” But he added: “I still think we will find the core of this bill, whatever we call it. We will find the core of the bill and we will pass it. And it will directly address some of these concerns about inflation.”

At the end of his first year in office, Biden hoped the pandemic would be history. Also that the economy was recovering before the midterm elections and that his success sent his predecessor into oblivion. Nothing of that has happened. The virus is hitting the country this winter, even if the latest omicron variant causes less severe illness. Sustained and rising inflation has defied White House predictions that price increases were “transient.” And Trump, whose threat to democratic values ​​is even more dangerous than a year ago, is laying the groundwork for a new campaign.

Admittedly, Biden’s challenges run deep, and many would be beyond any president’s ability to handle. But a year into his term, there are growing reasons to question how he is playing the heavy hand he was dealt.

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