Biden’s First Year

Christian Pensa

On a brisk Wednesday afternoon in Washington, D.C., another Presidential inauguration was held as Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was sworn into office as the 46th President of the United States. One year has passed since his inauguration , so it’s worth taking the opportunity to look back on the past year and see what Biden’s policies were pre-Presidency, where he succeeded, and where he fell short.

In an article from BBC News from January, 2021, President Biden’s policies and intentions are outlined on various key issues. Among these are the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. His goals at the dawn of 2021 were to provide free COVID testing for all, to hire 100,000 people to establish a national contact tracing program, and to establish at least 10 testing centers in every state. As of today, COVID testing is free for all, including individuals without insurance. Additionally, on January 14th of this year, a plan was announced to purchase one billion at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests to give to Americans for free, according to Additionally, rapid at-home testing via the United States Postal Service has become commonplace in recent months.

Not all of the Biden Administration’s efforts against the pandemic were entirely successful, however. In an article for The Washington Post, Elisabeth Rosenthal writes about her struggle to find reliable, accessible COVID testing in December. “Nearly two years into the pandemic, finding out whether I had covid should have been easy,” she said, “But my search turned into an infuriating, five-day scavenger hunt. Across the country, test lines are hours long and results so delayed they are often of limited use.” She continues, “The Biden Administration recently bought half a billion [COVID tests] for free distribution but, with manufacturing time, those won’t be available until January–too little too late with omicron surging.”

On economics, Biden proposed an additional $200 per month in social security payments, in an effort to rescind former President Donald Trump’s controversial tax cuts. According to Jim Tankersley of the New York Times, “Mr. Biden is now in the White House, and his party controls both chambers of Congress. Yet he and his aides are committing to only a partial rollback of the [tax cuts], with their focus on provisions that help corporations and the very rich.” 

Also according to BBC News, he supported raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. As of yet, the federal minimum wage stands at $7.25, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, except for federal contractors, who are now bound to a $15 an hour minimum wage.

The BBC has also reported that many of Biden’s policies are intended to “reduce incarceration, address race, gender and income-based disparities in the justice system, and rehabilitate released prisoners.” In a statement from the Biden Administration from October 2021, “President Biden issued a Memorandum directing the reinvigoration and expansion of the Federal government’s role in expanding access to justice.  The Presidential Memorandum called for Attorney General Merrick Garland to submit a report to the President outlining the Department of Justice’s plan to expand its access to justice work.” The statement continued, “Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing the release of both reports submitted pursuant to the Presidential Memorandum…” These reports are a plan from Garland to restore and expand the emphasis on access to justice within the Department of Justice, and a report from the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable examining the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on “access to various programs, initiatives, and services across federal government.”

Finally, the BBC News article outlined Joe Biden’s stance on global climate. “Though he does not embrace the Green New Deal – a climate and jobs package put forward by the left wing of his party – he is proposing a $1.7 trillion federal investment in green technologies research, some of which overlaps with the funding in his economics plan, to be spent over the next 10 years, and wants the US to reach net zero emissions by 2050.” 

In an opinion piece by Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post, she expresses her distaste for what she believes is the U.S. government’s inaction on climate change. “A carbon tax-and-dividend scheme, in which the tax revenue would be rebated back to Americans, has already been endorsed by 3,600 U.S. economists. Among the luminaries on board are three of Biden’s top economic officials,” Rampell said. “But Biden effectively shot this strategy down when he (foolishly) pledged not to raise taxes on anyone making under $400,000.”

In the end, it seems President Joe Biden had a somewhat mixed year in terms of his goals for his presidency. It is unclear at this time whether the unmet ones will be reached at some point in the next three years. While he may not be favored by all, creating a better America is at the forefront of his intentions, so one can only hope that he succeeds.