By FRED BRUNING
Managing Editor, PAI
There was a widely discussed mid-winter opinion poll showing that 62 percent of Americans think Joe Biden accomplished “not very much” or “little or nothing” in his first two years as president.
Only 36 percent of those responding to the Washington Post-ABC News survey said Biden had done “a great deal” or “good” amount.
Friends, this is nuts.
No matter what Republican opponents might say, the first half of Biden’s tenure has been remarkably productive and in a league with two powerhouse Democratic presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Here’s the rundown:
- JOB GROWTH – With Democrats controlling the House, Senate and White House from 2020-22, however narrowly in Congress, Biden and his Capitol Hill allies achieved record job growth, including 750,000 in the U.S. manufacturing sector, and drove unemployment to its lowest level in a half-century.
- RESCUE PLAN – Biden passed the American Rescue Plan to get us through the coronavirus crisis. The bipartisan, $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will create thousands of opportunities for blue collar workers. The Inflation Reduction Act that combats climate change allows Medicare to negotiate prices on prescription drugs and makes certain big corporations pay their fair share of taxes.
That’s not bad for a “do-nothing” president, wouldn’t you say?
But there’s more:
- • The president pushed through the CHIPS and Science Act providing crucial aid to the U.S. semiconductor industry and making America less dependent on Chinese components.
- • Congress passed and Biden signed the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act designed to better safeguard women from stalking and domestic abuse.
- • Also passed were the Safer Communities Act, expanding background checks on gun purchasers ages 18-21, the Respect for Marriage Act, guaranteeing federal rights for same-sex couples, and the Pact Act, expanding health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burnpits and toxic substances.
And we should never forget Biden rescued three Graphic Communications Conference retirement funds that might have gone under without billions allocated through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. They were among dozens of multi-employer pension funds whose finances tanked after the 2008 financier-caused Great Recession. The Butch Lewis Act, named for a worker who died before the rescue of his union’s fund occurred, was the vehicle.
That’s great stuff by any measure, and particularly when compared to the previous administration.
The signature achievement of Donald Trump and the Republican majority he enjoyed was a tax cut that benefited the wealthiest Americans and corporations. It helped boost the national debt by nearly $8 trillion, according to the online news agency Politico.
“The financial burden that he’s inflicted on our government will wreak havoc for decades…,” Politico said of Trump just before he left office.
So what gives? Why do so many Americans fail to recognize the progress made under Joe Biden?
Part of it is the extreme tribalism that marks our politics. Biden could find a cure for cancer, end the war in Ukraine, and return gas to $1 a gallon, and the far right would still call him incompetent and a danger to democracy.
Then there’s social media, which can spread a lie around the world before truth “gets its boots on,” to quote Mark Twain. And perhaps a sour mood has set in after three years of a health crisis that still lingers.
LET’S GET REAL
Whatever, let’s get real.
Biden has an outstanding legislative record and has been an ally of unions and ordinary Americans from the start of his presidency. Things will be more difficult this year and next with Republicans holding a majority in the House. Biden vows to persist and “finish the job.”
Unlike Donald Trump, this is a president who doesn’t ask for credit. But Americans ought to wake up, look at the facts, and say hats off for a job well done. Joe Biden stuck by us. We owe Joe the same.
(Fred Bruning is managing editor of The Communicator, newspaper of the Printing Packaging & Production Workers Union of North America and a former Newsday reporter.)