WASHINGTON — Just hours after officially kicking off his re-election campaign, President Joe Biden appeared before a crowd of union supporters on Tuesday who chanted “four more years” to outline his second term.
In his telling, the record, unsurprisingly, sounds pretty good — more jobs, more roads and bridges, more clean energy, more opportunities for workers without college degrees. In just two and a half years, he argued, he helped bring America back to life after a debilitating pandemic and social breakdown. “Our economic program is working,” he insisted.
But like any incumbent seeking re-election by voters, he has his own campaign record, and one he is evading. In an address to more than 3,000 members of North American construction unions, Mr. Biden made no mention of promises he has so far failed to deliver, or the setback that has left him with the lowest approval rating of the current president. points in their tenure.
Mr. Biden’s record differs according to the angle from which it is viewed, with voters and viewers migrating to their own corner of the information world from fundamentally different vantage points during a polarized period. The president is either a full-fledged leader who confronts evil forces, or a leader of evil forces that destroy the country.
“Under my predecessor, Infrastructure Week became a punch line,” Mr Biden told union members, mocking former President Donald J. It did succeed in enacting legislation. “In my opinion, infrastructure has been in the headlines for a decade — a decade.”
Mr Trump is now seeking to take on Mr Biden again in 2024, but he has not convinced his potential opponent. “When I stand on that debate stage and compare our records,” he said in a statement, “it will be a Radical Democrat’s worst nightmare because there has never been a record as bad as theirs, and neither has our country. Never experienced so much”
In addition to a $1 trillion infrastructure package that was voted on by Republicans, Mr. Biden can boast sweeping legislative victories that seemed unlikely when he took office. Among other measures he passed Congress with a narrow Democratic majority included a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package; major investments to fight climate change; lower prescription drug costs for seniors; increased corporate taxes; Treating veterans from toxic burn pits and spurring growth in the semiconductor industry.
However, he has failed to deliver on other major promises, including a ban on the use of assault weapons; immigration reform that would provide a path to citizenship for immigrants who entered the country illegally; two years of free community college; and free access to all three- and four-year-olds. Kindergarten; national paid sick leave; greater voting rights protections; and policing changes to combat excessive use of force. Some of them were unrealistic to begin with, but Mr Biden was the one to emphasize them as a priority.
His financial record is similarly mixed. Since he took office, more than 12 million jobs have been created as the economy bounces back from the pandemic, and unemployment is at or near a half-century low. But inflation has soared to its highest level in four decades, which some critics have blamed on excessive federal spending under Biden, even as rising costs have become a global phenomenon. Likewise, natural gas prices surged to record levels. While both are starting to pull back — inflation fell from 9% to 5% — Americans remain skeptical of the economy, according to opinion polls, and economists remain concerned about a possible recession.
After an on-and-off start, Mr Biden has presided over a de-escalation of the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing restrictions even as many, particularly those on the political right, have developed resistance to the vaccine. But he has failed to quell a wave of migrants at the southwest border, with record numbers of people trying to cross and Republicans accusing him of creating a wave of crime that actually began while Mr. Trump was still in office.
Mr. Biden has struggled to reverse Mr. Trump’s influence on the judiciary, churning out more judicial appointments in the Senate than his predecessor in his first two years in office, but in recent months, due to an illness The process has been slowed in the absence of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., from the Judiciary Committee. Mr. Biden made good on his promise to appoint the first black woman to the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Where he has been unable to impose his will on lawmakers, he has relied on broad interpretations of his executive powers to achieve policy goals, most notably his decision to forgive $400 billion in student loans. But such actions would inherently be challenged by the courts, and analysts expect the Supreme Court to overrule the student loan decision.
On the international stage, Mr. Biden has worked to revive international relations damaged under Mr. Trump, rejoining NATO and rejoining the Paris climate change agreement. But his efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal, abandoned by Mr Trump, have gone nowhere.
Mr Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years turned into a catastrophe, leading to a swift and brutal Taliban takeover of the country, a chaotic withdrawal of troops and allies, swarms of fleeing Afghans and a suicide bomber killing 13 US troops and 170 civilians.
While Trump has criticized Biden over the matter, the president is implementing the withdrawal agreement his predecessor struck with the Taliban, which one of Trump’s own national security advisers called a “surrender deal.” Some experts believe the Kabul airport fiasco emboldened President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to view Mr. Biden as weak.
But when Putin invaded Ukraine last year to isolate Moscow and cut off most of its financial ties to the West, Biden united the world. With bipartisan support, Mr. Biden has pledged more than $100 billion to arm Ukraine’s military and enable its government and people to survive a Russian onslaught. U.S. aid helped Ukrainians surprise Russian invaders by preventing a takeover of their capital and much of the country, but the situation remains volatile.
It also remains unstable domestically. In his inaugural address, Mr Biden laid out his desire to unite the country after the divisions of the Trump era. While he has gone some way to tone down the climate in Washington and at times work with Republicans, America remains polarized.
Republicans have accused Mr. Biden of being divisive, citing his attacks on “MAGA Republicans” and blaming him for investigations into his rival Mr. Trump, despite no evidence the president was involved.
In Tuesday’s campaign kickoff video and subsequent speech, Biden acknowledged he hadn’t accomplished everything he wanted to. But he insisted it was an argument for his re-election. “We still have a lot of work to do,” he said.