Courtesy of Thomas Hawk via Flickr under CC BY-NC 2.0

With a presidential approval rating of 40% and a vice presidential approval rating of 39%, Joe Biden’s presidency is being labeled a failure. It’s been a year since his inauguration, and Biden has had only one significant success with his infrastructure bill. Unfortunately, the president can’t seem to shake the impression that his administration has no energy or focus. That idea is a hard sell for voters who questioned his fitness prior to now. Voters united behind Biden in 2020 with the focus of kicking former President Trump out of the White House, not because they strongly supported him.

There are a number of events which have made members on both sides of the aisle question Biden’s competency. Many voters believed that President Biden’s skills included bridging the Democrats together within Congress, yet his inability to do so is part of what is holding up the Build Back Better bill. Biden’s further embarrassment with voting rights legislation frustrated both parties, as voter suppression runs rampant. However, with a majority of Democrats in the Senate, Congress is all too easily held hostage by the filibuster which makes any president’s job that much harder. Additionally, his approval rating first dipped significantly to 50% from 59% in September 2021 after the violence that was attached to the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Inflation increased at an incredible rate, faster than it has in about 40 years, with a 7% spike.  These growing costs are eating at wage gains and making it harder for families and individuals to make ends meet. Problems with the supply chain and increased spending as a result of the pandemic-induced lockdowns has worsened these issues. All this has put a burden on Biden’s handling of the economy, and his approval rating for this aspect of his presidency is at a low 37% as a result. 

However, it is the handling of the pandemic that has Americans concerned about Biden’s presidency most of all. The administration’s strong encouragement of vaccination was well-intentioned, but it did not, of course, completely protect against the spread of the disease. Frankly, the lack of a strong vaccine mandate and the lack of widespread testing has been disappointing. Furthermore, there is growing mistrust of public health officials due to mixed messaging. Different organizations, from the CDC to the president’s own COVID-19 task force, have made differing statements on a number of issues. Unfortunately, two out of every three Americans agree with the statement that the COVID-19 response is going badly.

Biden’s COVID-19 response, specifically the higher vaccination rates, has put the country in a better position to fight and survive the virus, though it might not be enough. In terms of Biden’s Build Back Better bill, it’s becoming clear that the president can only expect to do so much with such a slim majority in Congress. It has been a hard year for Biden, and his current record certainly isn’t encouraging. Building the country back up will be a difficult exercise in patience that Americans must be prepared for.

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