In 2012, Pew Research asked 1,008 Americans to describe then-Vice President Joe Biden in one word. The responses ranged from “Good,” the most common answer, to “Goofy.” But almost five months into his tenure, the word that perhaps most accurately describes him as president is “Shortsighted.” Time after time, Biden has been caught short by consequences of his policies that should have been obvious.
Biden should have been able to foresee, for instance, that he would face a crisis at the border in his first year in office. There were already stark humanitarian problems in recent years, and after campaigning on a promise to ease his predecessor’s immigration policies, and seeing a pandemic create immediate economic needs throughout Central and South America, it should have been clear how this year would unfold. In fact, in April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection logged 178,622 encounters along the border with Mexico, more than anything faced by the Trump administration.
Yet, five months and many lawsuits later, the Biden administration is still trying to figure out how to straighten out the mess. It is clear that the immigration system needs reform, and it should be equally clear this administration needs to lead on this issue.
Biden should have been able to foresee that pulling American troops out of a politically unstable climate in Afghanistan would give purchase to violent Taliban forces. That has happened too, with attacks escalating, locals cowering, vaccines delayed, corruption spreading and, this week, China swooping in as a voice of stability, of all things.
Biden should have been able to foresee that massive government spending and easy-money fiscal policy would lead to inflation. That is starting to happen. The consumer price index rose faster in May than it has since 2008. Officials from the Fed continue to insist that inflation is “transitory,” but some economists aren’t so sure.
“There is going to be a resurgence of demand,” Gargi Chaudhuri, head of iShares investment strategy for the Americas, told Barron’s Tuesday. “We’re already seeing a pickup in inflation, and there is going to be more of that to come.”
In all of these cases, negative outcomes were predictable and Biden’s policies failed to anticipate them. Certainly, those policies aren’t the only causes here, but they clearly either contributed to these issues or failed to address the problems that would predictably result. More than pandemic recovery or any other issue, the through-line for this administration’s first five months has been an inability to see what’s ahead.
Biden and his team are smart people. In each of these cases, they have known the risks associated with these moves. But in each case they have pushed forward anyway believing, or simply hoping, that the commonsense outcomes wouldn’t come to pass. This administration can and should do better. If it doesn’t, the most common word Americans will use to describe it might be “Myopic.”