The world rubbed its eyes. Above all, old allies praise the new US president. In his first 100 days in office, the 78-year-old showed an energy that many young people could only dream of. Someone who becomes prime minister has a clear agenda, rushes forward with courage and doesn’t wait, just does it.
The president of the United States has tools that the German chancellor does not, for example. In so-called executive orders, presidential orders, he could decide many things completely independently in Congress. For example, to re-join the Paris climate agreement. Which he did on his first day in office.
Decisions without sustainability
Biden has already signed no fewer than 40 such decrees. And of course that looks good on our checklist. However, the problem with this style of judgment is that any successor can nullify these decrees with the stroke of a pen. Because they are not ordinary laws, the president needs even a political majority in order to implement them – or repeal them again.
Ines Ball chairs the DW studio in Washington
And here we come to the basic problem of this presidency: Joe Biden has a slim majority in both houses of Congress. For the most substantial legislative projects, he needs support from the opposition camp, as he should not make concessions too big to offend the left wing of his party.
You have to bear all of this in mind when praising Biden’s full plans. Yes, its infrastructure plan will give the United States a massive boost in modernization and innovation that cannot leave Europe in the dust. But can he even organize the majority required for that? Especially for his financing concept, which relies on hefty tax increases for the wealthy?
Between want and ability
And yes, his demonstrated commitment to fighting climate disaster could not only have very real impacts in the United States, but it would also be an important global driving force. But what can it really do? Here, too, a sharp distinction must be made between global political will and actual domestic policy options.
In just under a year and a half, the midterm elections are due in the United States. On November 8, 2022, it will be determined whether Biden may lose his ruling majority in the Senate again. Biden is doing better in the polls today than his predecessor did after his first 100 days in office. But nothing has changed in light of the country’s deep division.
After the election campaign, before the election campaign
Therefore, the international community should not make a mistake: Joe Biden is already campaigning again. As much as it presents itself as a reliable international partner again, its main focus is on domestic politics. He has to register here so he has the slightest chance that the Democrats will win the next election.