Leer en Español
By Jarrett Stepman*
Are you better off than you were two years ago?
A number of reports on Saturday suggested that White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain will step down after the State of the Union address next month. So, it’s a good time to look back on the Biden presidency so far.
Last year, just before President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address, I wrote about seven failures of his administration.
From COVID-19 tyranny to a foolhardy retreat from energy independence to a vicious war on parents, the 46th president has proved to be far from the healing uniter he was promised to be.
Though it seems many Americans have already forgotten about it, the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal remains one of the most humiliating foreign policy fiascos in American history. Even worse, following that disaster, there was no reckoning, no accountability for what happened.
In Biden’s second year, we saw many ongoing problems, some of which have only escalated. So, to mark the second anniversary of Biden’s presidency, I’ve updated my analysis of some of his biggest failures that are affecting Americans today.
1.) Immigration Chaos
Biden said that the border crisis didn’t begin “overnight.” Actually, it pretty much did begin overnight—the moment he took office. Since he was sworn in as president, there have been an estimated 5.5 million illegal border crossings.
In December alone, there were 251,487 illegal immigrant encounters at the border, according to Customs and Border Patrol. That’s the highest number ever recorded.
Border towns are besieged, but the whole country is now experiencing the effects of the illegal immigration crisis.
Not only are millions of people crossing the border illegally, the border situation has created additional problems beyond the humanitarian issue. Huge quantities of illicit drugs such as fentanyl are coming across the border, too, brought here by drug and human traffickers who thrive in the chaos.
It’s not a stretch to say that Biden has created the worst border crisis in U.S. history. We’ve set records for border crossings in each of his first two years as president, and at the current rate, we will set an illegal border-crossing record again this year.
This is all while Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas again and again assures us that the border is “secure.”
Does this look secure?
Of course, when the president arrived at the border, in El Paso, Texas, on Jan. 8, for his first-ever visit, everything was cleaned up to make things look orderly and normal.
The White House and its media apologists first attempted to write off this crisis as a “seasonal” phenomenon. Nope, it wasn’t that. Now, they’ve gone with the more usual excuse for the president’s failures. He’s a victim of circumstances.
The ongoing, shambolic nature of the illegal immigration crisis is an inevitable product of the administration’s policies and ethos. From the moment Biden became president, he has stripped and chipped away at border enforcement and signaled to would-be border crossers that if they can make their way into this country, there’s a good chance they will be able to stay, whether they are detained or not.
It’s hard not to conclude at this point that what’s happening at the Southern border isn’t just incompetence, it’s intentional.
2.) Ballooning Debt
Pretty much every modern president and Congress has failed on the national debt issue. But Biden has ratcheted it up to a whole new level.
The United States started the 2023 fiscal year with a national debt of more than $31 trillion, which is 120% of the entire U.S. economy at this point. That debt increased by about $4 trillion since Biden arrived in office. And the administration is eager to pile up more debt, with a student-loan forgiveness program that will cost half a trillion dollars if it survives court challenges.
What’s the administration’s plan to deal with the debt that’s quickly reaching its congressionally authorized ceiling and flirting with a big Capitol Hill showdown? Well, some of the administration’s backers suggest that the Federal Reserve create a $1 trillion coin.
Yes, a coin.
The proposal is of dubious legality. When questioned on this, the leading proponents of this “solution” suggested that the White House ignore the courts—creating a constitutional crisis—and march troops on the Federal Reserve if it doesn’t comply.
Sounds like a real plan for economic stability.
But don’t expect help from Congress anytime soon. The massive omnibus spending bill passed late last month in the lame-duck Congress locked in spending until September. A debt apocalypse isn’t here yet, but the consequence of limitless spending is starting to catch up with us.
That leads to the next failure of the Biden presidency.
Inflation may be slowing down a bit—while food prices soar—but for the most part, the U.S. economy under Biden has suffered its highest levels of inflation since the Jimmy Carter administration in the late 1970s.
The result is that while the U.S. economy has low unemployment, for now, inflation and the cost of living are wiping out the wealth of the average American.
In fact, according to E.J. Antoni, an economist at The Heritage Foundation, the average American family has lost $7,100 in purchasing power under Biden due to inflation and high interest rates. So, while the Biden administration has celebrated a rise in take-home pay, the reality is that inflation during his presidency has more than nullified those gains.
Antoni also took issue with Biden’s spin on the slowing inflation. Slightly lower inflation is hardly a major victory.
“[Biden] is right to say inflation is going down, but that is not the same as prices going down. Inflation going down means that prices are still rising, just not quite as fast as before. A 7.1% inflation rate is still horrific. It means prices will double in about a decade,” Antoni said in a December interview with The Daily Signal, the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.
Put another way, the house is burning down, but the good news is, we might save a few chairs.
4.) Woke Administrative State
The federal bureaucracy is being transformed into an apparatus more wholly devoted to the cult of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Following Biden’s 2021 executive order to establish a “government-wide initiative to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in all parts of the federal workforce,” the bureaucracy has been hard at work injecting every college campus-style inanity into its everyday operations.
Yes, NASA and the Pentagon are now discussing microaggressions and other woke nonsense. That’s comforting to know.
Moreover, all of this extends beyond the bureaucracy’s day-to-day operations.
In April, the Biden administration issued guidance through the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that “transgender youth receive the care they need.”
What does that mean? This is from a Justice Department memo released at the same time:
Intentionally erecting discriminatory barriers to prevent individuals from receiving gender-affirming care implicates a number of federal legal guarantees. State laws and policies that prevent parents or guardians from following the advice of a health care professional regarding what may be medically necessary or otherwise appropriate care for transgender minors may infringe on rights protected by both the Equal Protection and the Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The bottom line is that Biden, with the power of the federal government, wants to ensure that your child will be gender-transitioned, whether you like it or not.
The Biden administration also redefined Title IX protections for women to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Among other things, that could mean that gendered facilities in schools that receive federal funding could be eliminated or opened to the opposite sex.
The order means that the Department of Education will now go after, for instance, public school libraries that try to remove books with sexually explicit content that deals with LGBT identities.
5.) Specter of Scandal
A more recent development in the Biden presidency has been the discovery that he had classified documents from when he was the vice president under President Barack Obama.
Of course, when the FBI seized documents from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound in Florida, the media treated it as the scandal of the century. At the time, Biden said he couldn’t believe how “anyone could be that irresponsible” to keep classified documents.
The media are working overtime to draw a distinction here to soften the blow for Biden, but the reality is that this looks bad for the president. It also undermines their arguments about Trump and Republicans being some kind of unique threat to the country.
Before Biden was elected, there were questions about scandal in his family. Was his son, Hunter Biden, using his father’s name and influence to enrich himself? Was the now president in on this corruption?
Of course, Big Tech and the media infamously quashed this story in the days before the 2020 election. It’s not going away now.
The Republican-controlled House will almost certainly be digging deep into potential corruption in the Biden family in the next two years. Even left-wing media and Democrats are acknowledging this is becoming a serious problem for Biden’s presidency.
Even Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said that the recent discovery of classified materials in Biden’s Delaware home and the Penn Biden Center “diminishes the stature of any person who is in possession of it” and that Biden “bears ultimate responsibility.”
6.) No Return to Normalcy
Not only did things generally seem broken and dysfunctional in the past year, but Biden and his administration frequently took opportunities to portray half the country as evil, anti-democratic monsters.
That’s a real winning combination.
In Biden’s now infamous speech with a blood-red backdrop where he ranted and raved at length about the wickedness of “MAGA Republicans,” the president effectively defined his opponents as an existential threat to the country.
“As I stand here tonight, equality and democracy are under assault,” Biden said. “We do ourselves no favors to pretend otherwise.”
He kept doubling down.
“MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth, but in the shadow of lies,” Biden said. That’s quite ironic given images like this, from his Sept. 1 speech in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, which one news account headlined this way: “Biden shocks viewers with ‘hellish red background’ for polarizing speech.”
Now, Biden might not have genuinely believed what he was saying. After all, his 50-year career in politics seems to be mostly a long practice in opportunistic cynicism.
Biden’s primary strength as a politician has been in carefully triangulating to remain with the current of the Democrat Party, whatever direction that may take him.
One way or another, the speech most certainly represents what people in his administration believe. Many influential people on the Left in America apparently think that anyone to the right of Hillary Clinton—or who takes positions on social issues endorsed by Obama in 2008—should be ostracized, lose their job, and possibly have a powerful federal agency unleashed on them.
Ever the wily character, Biden tried to soften his position a bit after the speech. But the fact remains that that’s now a common view on the Left.
To a certain extent, Biden might have been right. What we are dealing with now truly is a battle for the soul of the nation.
The problem is, Biden is on the wrong side of that battle. He promotes extremist gender ideology, obliterates the wealth of the average American, empowers fanatical bureaucrats in Washington, and demonizes his fellow Americans, all while failing to uphold his constitutional duty to carry out the laws of this country and allowing millions of people to flood into this country illegally.
Biden’s presidency has been a failure. He’s the tottering, corrupt, intellectually bankrupt face of a radical, broken regime.
*Jarrett is a columnist for The Daily Signal.
This article is part of an agreement between El American and The Heritage Foundation.