Saturday, January 22, 2022

Biden - One Year In

About a year ago I posted on the Biden administration looking at what I saw as the reasons to be optimistic and pessimistic. Let's check in on those predictions and see otherwise how Trump's second term is proceeding.

I considered four areas for potential optimism: Trade, Immigration, Drug Policy, and Presidential Prestige. For these I felt like there was both a relative and absolute way to evaluate them--relative to Trump and absolute as in a general case.

Trade - I was quite hopeful on this front from a relative position believing that Biden would embrace a change from Trump. Well . . . no. Peruse the Cato Institute trade team's 2022 wish list to see how many times they identify a problem that is a continuation of Trump's policies. Trade suffered by being a non-meaningful issue beyond anti-Trump symbolism.
Prediction grade = FAIL

Immigration - I was quite hopeful that here Biden would be absolutely good. Instead he has literally continued Trump-era policies that he and his base strongly criticized during Trump's term while during this first year largely ignoring the issue otherwise. His modest improvements are vastly overshadowed by failures which shows cowardly indifference to people in dire need.
Prediction grade = FAIL

Drug Policy - I had slight optimism of an absolute variety. Alas, we elected an architect of the drug war with an uncaring bad cop as VP and expected change. Shame on us.
Prediction grade = FAIL

Presidential Prestige - This prediction was all relative, which made it a quite low bar. But hurdles aren't Uncle Joe's strong suit. As elucidated by Jonah Goldberg, Biden has very much not taken the high road. And his lying is about as common and as obvious as was Trump's. Gene Healy's recent presentation on Partisanship, Polarization, and Political Hatred was a good summary of how Biden's presidency started (was promised) and how it's going.
Prediction grade = FAIL 

Zero for four so far; let's turn to pessimism.

Here I was only considering each area on an absolute scale, and it was here I had the most confidence.

Judicial Appointments - My hope was for impartial, well-reasoning judges who apply the law and not politics. Without any high-profile appointments or me having enough inside baseball knowledge of federal court appointees, it is too soon to tell here.
Prediction grade = INCONCLUSIVE

Regulation - I expected Biden to reverse the gains made in the regulatory administrative state under Trump. In many small ways this has been true just as it was many small advances Trump accomplished, but it is in pandemic policy where my prediction really shines. Biden committed what I believe is a clear impeachable (and removable) act by extending the CDC's eviction moratorium despite knowing and admitting that the Supreme Court found it/would find it unconstitutional. He then in hateful fashion (see presidential prestige above) instituted a vaccine mandate for all private employers under OSHA's supposed authority.
Prediction grade = PASS

Taxes - Despite repeated attempts at worsening our tax code like a huge giveaway to the wealthy, the Democrat's inability to control their own crazies lead all of Biden's policy goals to failure. Even though the administration did not get its desired tax policy accomplished, I still believe my pessimism was confirmed regarding what tax policy would look like if they had their druthers.
Prediction grade = PASS

War - This one will get messy as war always does. I am still astonished and happy that Biden followed through on Trump's initial actions to end our involvement in Afghanistan. It wasn't pretty and Biden deserves criticism for those details. But it was a very good and difficult decision he made. Much remains to be seen regarding Russia/Ukraine and China/Taiwan among other areas. The latest looks a lot like his pullout in Afghanistan--the right move executed very sloppily.
Prediction grade = FAIL (thankfully)

Woke Politics and Policies - From "othering" those who disagree with the narrative to sic'ing the FBI on parents who dare to exercise free speech in regards to their children's education, my fears were realized.
Prediction grade = PASS

Spending - As I put it to a friend recently who said that I criticized Trump for being a big spender, Biden clearly had a "hold-my-beer" moment in his first year. We are now officially playing chicken with the gods of inflation. Let's see how this goes for President Ford take two.
Prediction grade = PASS

Presidential Power & Authority - When the NYTimes is telling a Democratic president to ease up on the executive orders, you know it is out of control. The ratchet turns another big notch yet again.
Prediction grade = PASS

Overall my predictions were 5-5-1. In the sense of what I would wish had happened I was a dreadful 1-10-1.

P.S. In that prior post I also stated some predictions about COVID-19 that have proven wrong. Some were wrong in my hope for saner policy responses. Others were wrong in terms of missing the negative magnitude of a potential variant (the Delta variant as it turns out) as well as my implicit hope that vaccine uptake would be greater than it was. The latter part contributing to why the former part was a bad prediction. Unfortunately I was dead-on correct about government failure regarding the FDA, et al. 

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