The Biden era got off on the left foot—politically. The first 100 days of Biden, his measures, and countless executive orders are a prelude to what his administration will be: a progressive government that stands between the moderate and radical politicians that make up his party. For the moment, those who gave the thumbs up to Biden’s first 100 days in office are the more radical politicians, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
“One thing that I will say is that I do think that the Biden administration and President Biden have exceeded expectations that progressives had,” Ocasio-Cortez said during a virtual town hall. “I’ll be frank, I think a lot of us expected a lot more conservative administration […] The active invitation and willingness and collaboration with progressives in his first 100 days or almost 100 days has been very impressive,” she said.
Ocasio-Cortez’s words have merit. Biden, without being the most energetic or charismatic president, has made his mark with his policy decisions linked to the most radical-progressive side of his party.
A clear example is his stance on the environment and climate change, where he carries a fairly radical agenda, stopping the Keystone XL pipeline project and returning to the controversial and costly Paris Agreement.
The choice of former Rep. Deb Haaland, a Native American Democrat who is against fracking, as Secretary of the Interior makes clear the focus Biden will have on environmental issues.
Even two of his party’s most radical congress members, Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), promoters of the Green New Deal, commented that their views on climate change coincide closely with the White House position.
Another issue where the strong advance of Biden’s more radical agenda is noticeable is in the cultural and educational fields. For example, on April 19, the Department of Education proposed a new rule for school districts to obtain grants.
The plan is that those districts that teach leftist theories such as Critical Race Theory to their school curricula will have greater privileges and chances of obtaining federal grants. Districts that do not adhere to these standards will find it more difficult to obtain funding, which could hurt schools in conservative districts.
The president also made controversial decisions regarding “diversity”. In January, he signed an executive order forcing doctors to perform sex-change operations. A federal court in South Dakota vacated the order and on April 20 the federal government appealed the court’s ruling, downplaying the importance of conservatives and Christians denouncing the administration’s disregard for religious liberties and doctors’ votes.
There was also much controversy over an executive order by the president allowing “trans” women to compete in biological women’s sports.
But where Biden shows one of his most radical positions is in the economy, with a tax plan that seeks to reverse the tax reform of former President Donald Trump, which brought great economic benefits to the United States.
Biden’s reform would raise the corporate tax from 21% to 28%, the marginal income tax from 37% to 39.6%, and increase the capital gains tax from 20% to 43.5%. In addition, there is also expected to be an additional social security tax of 12.4%. This plan by the president would significantly affect the country, costing the U.S. one million jobs and a $117 billion reduction in GDP by 2023, according to a study commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers.
The tax reform posed by the president is justified, the administration argues, in the controversial infrastructure plan criticized by conservatives and moderates for spending too much money in several non-infrastructure areas.
A convoluted popularity
Biden’s popularity ratings appear fairly solid in these first 100 days. “Biden, at a 53% approval and 40% disapproval split in the overall FiveThirtyEight average, is doing well compared to his predecessor, Donald Trump, but he lags every other president in terms of net approval in the opening period of his presidency,” reads a Rasmussen article.
However, NBC News points out that Biden’s approval numbers have setbacks in areas such as immigration and the border crisis, where he has a 33% approval rating; his foreign policy focused on China 35% and on the arms issue 34%.
Other areas such as the economy and, above all, health care are doing well: “The president gets his best marks in managing the pandemic (69%), managing the economy (52%), uniting the country (52%) and race relations (49%)”, reported NBC.
Biden’s greatest success
Just as the Democratic administration is facing multiple criticisms for its radical stances in these first 100 days, it also has a big boost of confidence with the vaccination process.
Helped by the success of Operation Warp Speed and by coming into office when the country was already delivering one million doses per day — both Trump accomplishments — Biden is achieving great success with the vaccination process by increasing vaccine distribution and the pace of vaccination.
On April 16, the U.S. reached 200 million doses of COVID-19 delivered and by April 26, the number surpassed 230 million vaccines administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
However, Biden’s success in this area is also due to the fact that the health system adapted for a month and a half to a vaccination process unprecedented in history, and that happened under the Trump administration.
The failures of the democratic administration
Just as the president found great success in the vaccination, he also saw his greatest failure in the border crisis with Mexico.
His responsibility and risky rhetoric in favor of all types of immigration and open borders put Biden in the eye of the storm in recent months. The images of women and children in detention centers, the sad stories of immigrants, the border security problems, and the controversial decision to appoint Kamala Harris as the one in charge of solving the crisis did not help the president much.
Also, his disregard of the crisis at the southern border was criticized by political opponents, such as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who strongly condemned the president’s comments on the border crisis during his first press conference.
However, Republicans were not the only ones to criticize the president. Several Texas Democrats, including Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez and Congressman Henry Cuellar, criticized the administration for its handling of the border crisis.
“When you create a system that incentivizes people to come across, and they are released, that immediately sends a message to Central America that if you come across you can stay,” said Rep. Gonzalez. “It incentivizes droves of people to come, and the only way to slow it down is by changing policy at our doorstep. If they don’t change the policy, the flow of continued migration traffic isn’t going to stop or slow down.”
Cuellar, on the other hand, had warned the White House since January that the situation at the southern border could get out of control, but was not listened to. The congressman criticized a message from Joe Biden where he asked migrants to “not come now” to the U.S., because, for him, he is intrinsically telling them to come later, which is not a request to stop the migratory flow.
The situation got so out of hand that even Biden had to reinstate several of Trump’s immigration policies that he had rescinded at the beginning of his term. Such as the Safe Third Country Agreement.
The foreign policy of the first 100 days of Biden
Biden’s foreign policy also seems to be the reverse of that pursued by the Trump administration.
Biden decided to take a rather hostile stance towards Russia, but the fangs he showed to Moscow are nothing like the smiles he throws at Beijing and Tehran.
With China, the situation looks complex. The Asian giant is steadily advancing in its global aspirations and Biden decided to position himself as a conciliator rather than a competitor.
Dealing with China is the issue that seems to cost Biden the most, being among his most unpopular approval ratings. The president refused to condemn the Uighur genocide. His Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, also released a controversial statement regarding what stance the U.S. would take in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, hinting that the U.S. would do nothing to defend its ally.
With the Iranian theocracy, the United States seems to be heading towards the foreign policy of the Obama administration that so benefited the Ayatollah and terrorist groups in the Middle East such as Hezbollah.
While the Biden administration has warned that it will not lift sanctions against the Iranian regime until it stops enriching uranium, it has also expressed its willingness to renegotiate the nuclear deal that benefited Iran in the areas of weapons, terrorism, and propaganda.
It is important to see how the United States will face the challenge of negotiating with Iran, especially considering that Tehran is in a poor position to negotiate and impose conditions and that President Biden was a critic of the Trump doctrine towards the Iranian theocracy.
Likewise, the socialist regimes in the region (Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua) so far see in Washington a much less fierce enemy compared to the one they had under the Trump administration.
Apart from the above, which are geopolitical decisions that could be expected from the Democratic administration, Biden surprised by making the historic decision to qualify the massacre of the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians as “genocide.” In doing so, he became the first U.S. president to officially recognize this crime, a historical debt that the United States owed to the Armenian people.
A government close to the radical wing of its party
Biden’s first 100 days are a prelude to how radical his presidency will be. Although the president is still considered by a good part of Americans as moderate (42% according to NBC News), while 29% think he is “very liberal,” his decisions seem to be closer to the radical impulses of the socialist squad of his party.
His economic plans, his cultural/educational measures focused on the progressive narrative, his policies against religious liberties and his stance related to the free carrying of guns, are the examples that Biden, so far, is not taking the moderate path that many expected when he landed in the White House.