April 28, 2021

Biden’s First 100 Days

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“More than half of Americans approve of President Joe Biden after nearly 100 days on the job… The national opinion poll of 4,423 adults from April 12-16 found that 55% approved of Biden’s performance in office, while 40% disapproved.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left praises Biden’s support for the progressive agenda.

Biden is making a $5 trillion bet. The president has calculated, aides and allies say, that the twin shocks of the last four years—President Donald Trump’s gutting of the federal government and the historic pandemic—have created a once-in a career opportunity. By embracing a pre-Reagan vision of expansive government that delivers for a hurting nation, he hopes to capitalize on the post-Trump political moment…

“‘People just see a much, much bigger role for the government,’ says Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who advised Biden’s campaign. ‘It’s comparable to the Great Depression and World War II, where there were massive emergencies that affected everyone, and people were very, very responsive to a major [government] role.’…

“So far, Biden’s bet seems to be paying off. His approval rating has hovered in the mid-50s, according to Gallup, which trails many of his predecessors but is a strong mark in this polarized political climate. (Trump never cracked 50%.) Some 64% approve of his coronavirus response, and 46% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction, according to a Monmouth University poll released April 14, the highest number in eight years.”
Alana Abramson and Brian Bennett, Time

“The genius of Biden's first 100 days is his style. Even as he rammed through the $1.9 trillion relief plan through a closely divided Congress on a partisan basis -- and even as he is pushing for more -- he has struck a decidedly nonconfrontational tone. He does not demand constant attention. He does not vilify his opponents or pick fights for sport. He is low-key, warm and empathetic…

“Maybe over time these virtues will lose some of their luster in the face of myriad challenges the White House will confront. For now, however, Biden's tone, tenor, and fundamental decency are a welcome tonic after four years with the Great Divider.”
David Axelrod, CNN

“Trump interacted with Congress by threatening shutdowns and vetoes, making impossible demands and generally bullying both Republicans and Democrats. Biden has tried to appear like he's looking for Republicans to sign on to his Covid relief bill. Rather than get frustrated with Democrats like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who have stood in the way of goals like a $15 minimum wage, Biden has played the long game, knowing he'll need Manchin's support in the future on gun control, policing and infrastructure…

“Where Trump made off-the-cuff and improbable but inspiring promises about Covid -- like promising to be back to normal by Easter 2020 -- Biden has set easily achievable markers, like getting 200 million shots in American arms or getting more kids back in American schools. We can argue about whether his goals are ambitious enough. We cannot argue that they haven't been achieved.”
Zachary B. Wolf, CNN

Critics posit that “[Biden’s team has] reneged or stayed silent on a number of items, only moving when enough pressure has been created by the political system to make inaction impossible. And often those reluctant moves are half-steps: raw materials and AstraZeneca vaccines but no IP waiver on vaccine patents, or ACA exchange subsidies but no drug price reform, or so on…

“Even on the minimum wage increase for federal contractors, there’s much more that can be done, as we’ve outlined in our Executive Action Tracker. Biden can ban contractors from forced employee arbitration agreements; he can require them to maintain neutrality in union organizing; he can mandate replacement contractors to rehire the previous firm’s workers. None of this has been done…

“[The Biden team is also] leaving on the table a host of policies on climate, health care, financial regulation, conservation, consumer protection, and much more. Implementation of grants for arts venues was delayed four months and only restarted yesterday; implementation of rental assistance for desperate tenants is just as bad. Immigration policy is thus far a trail of broken promises… for this presidency to reach transformative levels, advocates are just going to have to keep working.”
David Dayen, The American Prospect

From the Right

The right criticizes Biden’s support for the progressive agenda.

The right criticizes Biden’s support for the progressive agenda.

“The White House would like you to believe that the progressive lurch it has taken in the first 100 days—contrary to the promises Mr. Biden made during the campaign—is going down well with voters. Pointing to his 10-point improvement over President Trump, his aides say there’s popular support for the hefty expansion of government they have embarked on. But a more likely explanation is that for a critical mass of Americans in the shrinking center of politics, Mr. Biden’s singular appeal is that he is not Mr. Trump

“This contrast alone—the dialing down of the hysteria we’ve lived with for four years—probably explains the 10-point difference in the Trump and Biden ratings…

“The Biden people hope that an economy roaring back to life in the early stages of post-pandemic euphoria will maintain their political momentum and Americans will retroactively endorse the progressive course they’re on. But there’s an alternative possibility: that the resumption of normal political service reminds at least half the country that an administration that has exceeded even the left of its own party’s expectations may not be what the country needs.”
Gerard Baker, Wall Street Journal

“The 46th president is contemplating the sort of bait-and-switch that rarely goes over well. Yes, the policy plans he ran on last year were further to the left of former President Barack Obama’s and of Biden’s own lengthy record as a senator. But Biden described himself as a moderate who wanted to work with Republicans and restore a sense of normality to Washington…

“[Since being elected] Biden’s drive to make himself the next FDR and erect a massive progressive edifice on the slightest of political foundations is monumentally arrogant and almost certainly bound to fail…

“For a would-be FDR, Biden doesn’t seem to understand that a fundamental source of the New Dealer’s power was enormous congressional majorities. FDR came into office in 1933 with almost a 200-seat majority in the House, 313-117, after Republicans lost more than 100 seats. Biden came into office in 2021 with a bare nine-seat majority in the House after Democrats surprisingly lost ground all over the country.”
Rich Lowry, New York Post

“Biden’s political standing as he approaches his administration’s 100-day mark has more in common with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama than with the legendary FDR… Both men set to work reviving the economy, Clinton from a mild recession and Obama from the 2008 financial collapse. Both succeeded in pushing through significant stimulus measures by spring…

“But after that initial success, they diverged from FDR’s playbook. Each changed their focus from economic recovery to pushing longtime Democratic priorities… The results were dire for each: Record-setting Republican midterm victories stopped their efforts to change America in their tracks. Biden and House Democrats are pushing an even more aggressive agenda with smaller political capital… History suggests the political outlook for Democrats is grim, should they stay on this track.”
Henry Olsen, Washington Post

“Transformative policy agendas are harder to sell when you admit that’s what you’re doing because they invite a backlash from a coalition of the opposite party and the center. Biden has figured out, or stumbled into, a better formula: Push a fairly radical agenda while acting like grandpa

“[But] issues that divide Americans — and Biden’s base — in ways that create headaches for him are rising to the fore. Biden’s approval ratings on China (35%), guns (34%) and border security and immigration (33%) are all signs that the road ahead will get rockier…  

“When you’re vaccinating Americans, sending them cash and building infrastructure — particularly when Republicans are MIA or talking about Dr. Seuss — it’s easy to be inoffensive. The Biden administration’s messaging has been successful at keeping divisive issues on the presidential back burner. Eventually, they will come to a sufficient boil and his grandpa demeanor won’t be enough. How he responds will be a better measure of his presidency than his first 100 days.”
Jonah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times

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