Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
July 24, 2022
There is no doubt that President Biden is in a tough spot now. His domestic supporting level is at the bottom compared with his peers. Globally, President Biden does not hold much sway.
The key challenge for Biden is that he promised too much during the campaign and delivered little so far. One reader responded to the following news headline online asked a very simply question: Why did Biden make any global promise without the consensus or support of American people? Unfortunately, when Biden made his promises, he sounded very confident and did not acknowledge that he was speaking for himself. So instead of “America is Back” he should announce “Joe Biden is Back!”
Many political analysts blame Senator Joe Manchin for single handedly stalling Biden’s agenda in the Senate. It is not a fair characterization at all. Biden was elected to be the President of the US, not the President of the Democratic Party. The US Senate now is splitting 50 by 50 so VP Harris has used her tie-break privilege probably too many times at the Senate to force Biden’s agenda. It means that most Biden’s “legislative accomplishments” for the past 19 months are partisan without the support any GOP senator. The implication is that Biden’s policies are not supported by about 50% of the voters. Biden’s governance is rather divisive.
Senator Manchin’s one vote becomes so pivotal is mainly because Biden is not able to convince a single GOP senator to support him. Senator Manchin represents West Virginia, a state dominated by Republicans, so it is natural for Senator Manchin takes policy issue with Biden.
People voted for Biden in 2020 because Biden bragged about his long tenure serving as the Senator from Delaware and his track record of able to reach out to GOP and making bipartisan policy a reality. After 19 months in charge, Biden has not earned any support from Republicans.
The mid-term election is 107 days away, after that Senator Manchin will not be Biden’s headache anymore because GOP will hold the majority in the Senate. Biden’s domestic agenda and foreign policy will be double checked by GOP every step of the way.
Biden could help his party by announcing, before Nov. 8, 2022, that he will not run for re-election in 2024. It will be the most valuable contribution of Biden’s Presidency.
Biden’s global promises held back by politics at home
CHRIS MEGERIAN, FATIMA HUSSEIN and ELLEN KNICKMEYER
Sun, July 24, 2022, 5:45 AM
WASHINGTON (AP) — Soon after taking office, President Joe Biden went to State Department headquarters to tell the rest of the world that the United States could be counted on again after four years of Donald Trump’s bull-in-the-china-shop foreign policy.
“America is back,” Biden said, in what has become a mantra.
But keeping his promises on the international stage has proved much more difficult than Biden might have expected. Domestic politics have routinely been a roadblock when it comes to taking action on climate change, taxes and pandemic relief, undermining hopes that Biden could swiftly restore the U.S. to its unquestioned role as a global leader.
The result is an administration straining to maintain its credibility abroad while Biden fights a rearguard action on Capitol Hill. It’s simply more difficult to press other countries to do more to address challenges that span borders when he’s struggling to deliver on those same issues at home.
“Every new thing takes a little bit of the luster off, and contributes to a sense of a struggling president,” said Michael O’Hanlon, the Brookings Institution director of research for foreign policy.
Biden has earned respect for marshaling an international response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the U.S. has shipped more coronavirus vaccines around the world than any other country.
Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said Biden “has restored our alliances, including our essential partnership with Europe, built new platforms and institutions in some of the most relevant regions of the world,” including the Indo-Pacific, and shown leadership on “the issues that matter the most.”
But his foreign policy record is much more mixed when he needs to secure support in Congress.
Although he has secured close to $54 billion in military and financial assistance for Ukraine — something Watson described as a historic amount delivered with “unprecedented speed” — Republicans remain uniformly opposed to many of his initiatives, and Biden has been hobbled because of disagreements among Democrats.
The latest problem has been the breakdown of on-and-off negotiations with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who pulled his support for a potential compromise on legislation to address climate change and create a global minimum tax.
On both issues, Biden had already made pledges or reached an international agreement, but the U.S. commitment is now in doubt.
The global minimum tax is aimed at making it harder for companies to dodge taxes by moving from country to country in search of lower rates. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen played a leading role in negotiating the deal among 130 countries.
“Reaching this consensus wasn’t easy,” Biden said when the agreement was announced just over a year ago. “It took American vision, as well as a commitment to closely cooperate with our partners around the world. It’s a testament to how leadership rooted in our values can deliver important progress for families everywhere.”
He acknowledged that “building on this agreement will also require us to take action here at home” — and now it looks like that action may not happen.
Biden wanted Congress to pass a proposal that would allow the U.S. to impose extra taxes on companies that aren’t paying at least 15%, either domestically or abroad.
But Manchin objected to tax changes in the legislation that’s currently under consideration,
Administration officials said they are not giving up on a plan that they said would “level the playing field for U.S. businesses, decrease incentives to move jobs offshore and close loopholes that corporations have used to shift profits overseas.”
“It’s too important for our economic strength and competitiveness to not finalize this agreement, and we’ll continue to look at every avenue possible to get it done,” said Michael Kikukawa, a Treasury Department spokesman.
But pushing ahead with the original deal will likely prove difficult at this point, said Chye-Ching Huang, executive director of the Tax Law Center at the New York University School of Law.
“It’s no doubt that this reduces the momentum,” she said.
She added: “There is a strong possibility that the major trading partners do this without the U.S. but the path forward is rockier.”
Manchin has also been an obstacle for Biden’s climate change plans, a reflection of his outsize influence at a time when Democrats hold the narrowest of margins in the Senate.
A few months after taking office, Biden hosted a virtual conference with other world leaders, and he announced that he would increase the country’s target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The decision was welcomed by scientists and politicians who worry that enough isn’t being done to prevent the planet from warming to dangerous levels, and Biden has spoken of fighting climate change with “the power of our example.”
Biden’s ability to meet his pledge