Things with Biden may fall apart


Joe Biden’s first six months were dramatic. Two-thirds of Americans are at least partially vaccinated. The economy is enjoying the fastest recovery since the 1980s. And, as polls have shown, the world no longer views the United States with the fear and pity of Donald Trump’s era. This is the best presidential start of most Americans’ lives.

But in politics, this kind of running is an exception. Biden’s upcoming ordeals — the stagnation of most of his reform bills, the obstinacy of Covid-19, and concerns about murder rates and border crossings — are largely beyond his control. It is easy to forget that Biden looked destined to be a lame duck before the Democrats won the special elections in Georgia in January and let them control the Senate. Things could have been worse.

However, Biden is now entering a more difficult phase of his presidency. One of his problems stems from unforced errors- Withdraw troops from Afghanistan. It is difficult to understand why he felt the need to withdraw the backbone of 2,500 American soldiers before the 20th anniversary of 9/11.The cost of staying is minimal-the United States has not died in a battle in Afghanistan In the past 17 months.

In contrast, the risk of leaving Afghanistan is high. It is only a matter of time before the Taliban regain control. The fall of Kabul may prevent the Chinook from driving out the last Americans, as happened in Saigon in 1975. But this will still damage the prestige of the United States. The US risk-averse signal will obscure Biden’s hopes of winning the hearts of the people in the democratic and authoritarian competition with China. This setback is self-inflicted.

The window for Biden to formulate a domestic agenda is shrinking. It is much better to have 50 Democrats in the Senate than 49. But at least two of them, Joe Manchin in West Virginia and Kelsten Cinemas in Arizona, are fair friends. Neither party intends to abolish the Senate obstruction rule, which forced Biden to seek at least 10 Republican votes. This means that most of his bills, such as strengthening voting rights, amnesty for illegal immigration, and making unions easier to organize, have little chance to pass. Even a vote by the Republican Party would be a miracle.

He might get 10 Republicans to vote for his bipartisan infrastructure bill. But the cost of negotiating with them is increasing. By refusing to consider any form of tax increase to pay for the bill, Republicans have now undermined funding for the IRS. Severely depleted Due to layoffs and staff turnover in the past 15 years. Biden could have used this moment to spread Republican cynicism about the rule of law. All he asked for was the means to enforce existing tax laws.

Biden is so keen on seeking a moment of bipartisan cooperation that he won’t make many concessions. Despite this, there is no guarantee that he will eventually get 10 Republican votes. In 2009, Barack Obama wasted a summer meeting with Republicans midway through health care negotiations, and they rejected the bill unanimously. This is true. Biden has largely got rid of the demonization suffered by Obama, perhaps because he is white. But the Republican Party denied that his strategy for achieving any victory has not changed.

The story of Covid-19 is the epitome of Biden’s presidency. During his opening period, he picked the fruits at his fingertips by quickly launching a vaccine on a large scale. With more than 3 million shots per day, the death rate plummeted.The remaining fruit – tens of millions of Americans who are skeptical of vaccines – are Hard to reachThe daily vaccination dose has plummeted to more than 500,000 points, and the infection rate is picking up. As a year ago, companies and universities are undergoing the same anxious cost-benefit analysis.

What can Biden do?He can emulate Boris Johnson in England and effectively say hell about these restrictions, or follow French President Macron And adopt a more mandatory vaccination policy. Both of these steps are not entirely within the power of the President of the United States. In practice, he will have to barely tide over the difficulties, and hopes that the intensity of the third wave of new coronavirus will not be enough to disrupt the economic recovery. As long as Biden does this, his presidency will remain normal.

edward.luce@ft.com

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