BY: ELIAN GOMEZ / STAFF REPORTER
Jan. 20, 2022 marked a year since the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Facing the second year of a pandemic, a Capitol Insurrection, and a troubled economy, among other challenges, the task of leading the U.S. was unprecedented. Here is President Biden’s year in review:
President Biden’s focus on the economy was one of the major highlights from his first year in office.
2021 saw more than 6 million jobs added to the US market, the highest increase in employment on record of any year. With the addition of job opportunities, unemployment rates lowered by 2.5% from January to December.
Many Americans do not recognize the economy as President Biden’s biggest success however, as inflation has been at its highest in 39 years with a 7% increase.
Average Americans have been notably impacted through a spike in prices of gas, food, and used cars. This is attributed to the supply chain crisis, labor shortages, and government stimulus packages to combat COVID-19.
While the economy still has strides to take to reach pre-pandemic levels, the Biden Administration has been slowly making progress.
In March 2021, President Biden passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. Payments of $1,400 were made to adults and children, a necessary boost for many Americans in dire need of financial support.
Then in November, following heated negotiations between the Biden Administration, Senate Republicans, and Senate Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, the bipartisan $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was passed.
This bill, according to the White House, seeks to “rebuild America’s roads, bridges and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and invest in communities that have too often been left behind.”
Despite success in passing these two bills, the second essential piece of President Biden's legislation plan has not seen the same amount of success. The Build Back Better Plan has lacked support from more moderate Democrats like Senator Joe Manchin, thus being stalled in the Senate.
According to the Biden Administration, the Build Back Better Plan is a framework that will “set the United States on course to meet its climate goals, create millions of good-paying jobs, enable more Americans to join and remain in the labor force, and grow our economy.”
2021 began with optimism and dedication toward vaccination, and that is exactly what transpired. According to the CDC, a total of 212.5 million Americans are currently fully vaccinated and the White House has now reported that more than 70% of American adults are fully vaccinated.
Despite a majority of American adults being fully vaccinated, 2021 also saw more than 70,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 than 2020. The rise of the Omicron variant however, worsened the battle against COVID-19 with a record setting wave of cases hitting the U.S.
As August 2021 drew to a close, the world saw the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, after Taliban forces captured the capital city of Kabul.
At the time, the Biden Administration faced increasing pressure to withdraw troops and as many Afghans as possible. President Biden believed it was necessary to end what he calls a “forever war.”
During this process, 13 U.S. soldiers were killed in a ISIS-K suicide bombing. Adding fire to the flame, the harrowing images of Afghans clinging to the sides of U.S. cargo planes and even falling to their deaths solidified this as one of Biden’s lowest moments while in office.
Nevertheless, America was able to withdraw from Afghanistan while evacuating hundreds of thousands of people. The events that transpired in Afghanistan could have been avoided, but the grand strategy involved can result in this being recognized as a success further down the line.
“The best days of this country are still ahead of us”
According to a new poll by Reuters, President Biden’s approval ratings have been at an all time low, with only 41% of Americans approving of his presidency, juxtaposed with 52% disagreeing.
Even with low public approval, President Biden has hope for the next 3 years.
“We have faced some of the biggest challenges that we’ve ever faced in this country these past few years — challenges to our public health, challenges to our economy. But we’re getting through it,” President Biden said before his one year anniversary in office.
“We’ve seen the grit and determination of the American people this past year. But the best days of this country are still ahead of us, not behind us.”