Reyna: A year of Biden’s ups and downs

Christian Reyna, Staff Writer

By the time this column is published, we will have lived through an entire year since President Joe Biden took the oath of office on January 20, 2021. Just before he took that oath, we witnessed a terrifying insurrection on January 6, 2021, in an effort to discredit his presidential election victory over former President Donald Trump. It’s safe to assume that the Biden presidency after one year has had its fair share of ups and downs as the threat of COVID-19, amongst other things, continues to impact his time in office. This brings to mind the following question: what has and hasn’t he done in the one year he’s been president? And, what problems have arisen during his tenure? Let’s take a closer look.

We must address the elephant in the room first: COVID-19. It has greatly affected our lives, and we expect the United States government to act accordingly, especially now with the Omicron variant causing a new wave of cases. Ohioans are overwhelmed with the new variant, but they are not alone. The entire country is facing a huge surge in positive tests and hospitalizations. What is the Biden administration doing to combat this? Biden has ordered for one billion at-home tests to be purchased and shipped to Americans who request them and is sending medical teams to help overwhelmed hospitals, including to the Cleveland Clinic. This is helpful, but right now, we don’t know exactly when we will get all of these at-home tests. Furthermore, although the Omicron variant took us all by surprise, the Biden administration has fallen short on its promises as Americans are still being forced to wait in long testing lines and scramble for limited at-home tests. We’re approaching two years of this pandemic; how can this be possible? Yes, vaccinations have significantly increased since he took office, giving us a great defense against the virus. However, the administration should’ve assumed the worst, knowing how unpredictable this entire situation has been.

Another defining feature of this administration is the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed this past November. I believe this is one of the bright spots of the Biden presidency compared to its poor handling of Omicron. This legislation will invest $55 billion in expanding access to clean water, $65 billion in broadband infrastructure deployment, $7.5 billion in establishing a national network of electric vehicle chargers and $65 billion in upgrading our power infrastructure, to only name a few–which is incredible. I applaud the Biden administration for finally passing this long overdue piece of legislation. It is a good first step into preparing the U.S. for the future in the fight against climate change and providing better services to the community. I just hope the implementation isn’t as slow as the rate of road repair here in Cleveland.

Lastly, let’s address the situation of student loans—affecting a good portion of Case Western Reserve University students. Some may owe thousands of dollars, since CWRU is a private, not public, university. As a result, we should be concerned about what this administration may do regarding student loan forgiveness. Federal student loan payments have been paused several times under the Biden administration, as well as a pause on interest accrual. This, however, is not a permanent solution. While the extensions are short-term victories, they fail to live up to Biden’s campaign promise of forgiving at least $10,000 in federal student loans per person. Should Biden resume payments again this year or not fulfill his campaign promise quickly, it will certainly hurt Democrats in a midterm election. President Biden had favorable views on his performance, with 51% approving of his first 100 days, but it is now 41%, according to a poll conducted by UMass Amherst. His failure to move forward with student loan forgiveness could further lower this approval percentage as the midterm elections approach. The President had requested the Department of Education to compose a memo in April 2021 to determine his authority regarding student loan forgiveness, but it has been months since with no word. If he wants his approval numbers to go up, then Biden should act on this delay and avoid leaving recent college grads in the dark. I, for one, am disappointed in the slowness of this situation, and it will most certainly affect my vote if nothing fruitful appears.

The first year of Biden’s presidency has certainly been different from Trump’s four years in office. It reminded me that our government could change for the better. There have been some bright spots, but there have also been hiccups along the way. Hopefully, Biden will perform better his second year, and we will all see and experience the benefits. He has devoted his life to public service, and while I am grateful for that, there has to be accountability for his actions, inactions and failures. If we don’t criticize and hold accountable the President, even if we initially voted for him, then we will not progress as a country. However, this doesn’t just stop with Biden. We should challenge your elected officials. We voted them into office to represent us, and we can vote them out if they do not act in our best interests.