Observers Review President Biden’s First Year in Office

December 17, 2021

Two distinguished academics from Universidad de Chile, both experts in international policy, appraised US President Joe Biden’s performance in office as his year anniversary of having assumed office approaches.

The event was presented by Robert Funk and Juan Gabriel Valdés, and chaired by Paula Estévez (SEAS'06), General Manager of AmCham Chile.

“Biden mainly got to the White House for not being Trump, and that has implications for his government program - for the decisions he has made and for those he has not made,” Funk said. “Upon coming to power, he faced three very big crises: the pandemic, the economic crisis, and the international panorama. His two main successes are the vaccination program and the two major bills to provide economic pandemic support and infrastructure.”

However, those successes have not transformed into votes of confidence by the public, noted Valdés, who is also a former Ambassador of Chile to the United States. “More than 60% of the people blame him for the pandemic, for inflation, for the increase in the price of gasoline. Blaming him for these problems is not fair. His main problem is that it is very difficult for him to take credit for what he is doing, because the law to [economically] support Americans and the infrastructure bill will not have immediate results. In that scenario, Biden is being criticized for things he can't control,” he said.

All eyes are now on the November 2022 midterm elections for congress. If Democrats lose the lower house, some Republicans are talking about naming Trump as Speaker of the House, which would “make life miserable for Biden. I don't know how feasible that is, but losing the majority in the lower house would be fatal for him,” noted Funk.

Looking further ahead, Valdés said there is no doubt that Trump will be the Republican’s presidential candidate, “and if there are younger Republicans who are going to compete with him, they are going to be more Trump than Trump himself.”

The US is deeply divided and, considering globalization and economic inequality, it would be difficult for Biden to be able to unite the country, he added, crediting Biden for returning dignity and decency to the institution of the presidency of the United States “which is not a minor issue.”