President Biden entered office as the oldest president at a tumultuous time in our country’s history as the coronavirus pandemic continued to affect the U.S. economy and had killed 400,000 people by the time he entered office. Here are Biden’s biggest accomplishments and failures of 2021.

Accomplishments

1. Ending The Afghanistan War

Biden’s decision to end the Afghanistan war will likely go down as one of the single greatest decisions a president has made in decades. America’s longest war cost $2.3 trillion resulting in 2,448 US service member casualties, 47,245 Afghan civilians, and 66,000 Afghan military and police, according to the Associated Press.

A bombshell report called the Afghanistan Papers was released by the Washington Post in December of 2019, detailing how the U.S. government had been misleading the public about the war for years while knowing the war was unwinnable. Despite a predictably chaotic withdrawal, Biden was able to do what his previous three predecessors failed to do, taking a massive first step to end the war on terror.

2. Greatly Minimizing The Drone War

The drone war had become incredibly popular under President Barrack Obama and his successor Donald Trump as the pair ordered thousands of drone strikes over their respective presidencies, with both men executing over 16,000 strikes each from 2013-2021 in Iraq and Syria. A journalist named Daniel Hale uncovered information in 2013 detailing how nearly 90% of the people killed in drone strikes were not the intended target and had the information published. Hale was later sentenced to 45 months in prison under the Espionage Act in 2021. Under the Biden administration, there have only been 39 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. 

3. Ending The Keystone XL Pipeline 

Biden axed the Keystone XL Pipeline over concerns that burning crude oil sands would only worsen climate change over time. The Keystone pipeline had previously been axed by President Obama and was later revived by President Trump. Environmentalists celebrated the move as a “landmark movement” to limit the use of fossil fuels.

4. Passing The $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan

The package included $1,400 stimulus payments, extended unemployment benefits, a continued eviction and foreclosure moratorium and increased the child tax credit in an effort to help people suffering economically during the pandemic. It also subsidized testing and vaccination programs and provided funds to state and local governments for lost tax revenues and gave money to schools for kindergarten through 8th grade. The plan was signed into law on March 11, 2021.

5. Passing His $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill

This infrastructure bill was the first part of Biden’s legislative agenda as it was geared towards improving the nation’s roads, bridges, water systems, broadband, public transportation, and ports. The project invests $110 billion in roads and bridges, $66 billion in freight and passenger rail, $65 billion in expanding broadband, $55 billion in upgrading water systems, $39 billion in public transit and $25 billion for airports, and will replace 100% of the nation’s lead pipes. 

6. Raising The Pay Of Federal Contractors To $15 An Hour

Biden signed an executive order in April raising the pay of federal contractors to $15 an hour, thus benefiting hundreds of thousands of workers. People befitting will include cleaning and maintenance professionals who clean workplaces for federal employees, nurses who take care of veterans, food service workers who feed military members, and laborers who build and repair the nation’s infrastructure. The pay raise will begin on Jan. 30, 2022, and will adjust to reflect changes in the cost of living every year. The tipped minimum wage will be eliminated by 2024 and ensures disabled employees get paid $15 an hour.

Failures

1. Failing To Abolish Student Loan Debt

Biden entered office promising students affected by the $1.7 trillion student loan crisis that he would alleviate $10,000 in debt. Since entering office he has only alleviated debt for students who are either disabled or victims of scams. Biden has the authority to eliminate all student debt via executive order under page 383 section 432A paragraph 6 of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

This would give the Secretary of Education the authority to “enforce, pay, compromise, waive, or release any right, title, claim, lien, or demand, however acquired, including any equity or any right of redemption.” Young voters helped carry Biden to the White House as 61% of voters ages 18-29 voted for Biden and failing to keep his promise will only hurt him come midterms.

2. Letting Sens. Joe Manchin, (D-W.Va.), and Kyrsten Sinema, (D- Ariz.), Gut And Kill Build Back Better

Biden’s original social spending and climate bill was worth $3.5 trillion that included paid family and sick leave, free community college, Medicare expansion for dental, vision, and hearing, childcare, universal pre-K, with many of those provisions either being watered down or stripped out of the bill, along with the Clean Electricity Payment Program. Biden put forth no effort in using a carrot-and-stick approach to getting Manchin and Sinema to support his agenda thus letting the pair make him look ineffective and weak.

The Biden/Harris administration has recently gotten flack from TV host Charlamagne The God, who asked Vice President Harris if the real President of the United States was Joe Biden or Joe Manchin. 

3. Not Dropping Trump-Era Sanctions On Iran And Re-Entering The Iran Deal

President Trump violated the Iran deal by adding new sanctions on the Iranian government and pulled out to spite former President Obama. Iran’s economy has suffered immensely since 2018 due to Trump’s aggressive actions that caused their oil exports to plummet and their currency to lose 50% of its value. As a result, Iran has been enriching their uranium levels in response to the U.S.

Biden could have dropped the sanctions prior to hardliner Ebrahim Raisi taking office, thus easing tensions between the two countries, but decided to ask them to rejoin the deal the U.S. had violated without dropping the sanctions. Raisi says the U.S. should end its “tyrannical sanctions” if it wants to renegotiate the 2015 agreement.

“Lifting sanctions is an indication of the seriousness of the other party,” he said.

4. Continuing To Detain Migrants In Detention Facilities At The Border

After many Democrats criticized former President Trump for his inhumane treatment of migrants at the border, slamming him for putting “kids in cages” Biden has continued the very same inhumane treatments. In March 2021, photos surfaced of immigrant teenagers sleeping on mats in crowded conditions. The images were from a facility in Texas with Rep. Henry Cuellar, (D-Texas), claiming 400 migrants were being housed there when it was only meant for 250. There are over 15,000 migrant children remaining in US custody.

5. Failing To Pass A $15 An Hour Minimum Wage

Biden touted a $15 minimum wage as a concession to Bernie Sanders voters during his 2020 presidential campaign and later told a group of mayors and governors it “doesn’t look like we can do it,” after the Senate parliamentarian ruled the effort to put the minimum wage increase in the American Recovery Package goes against Senate rules. 

The blame is shared by Vice President Kamala Harris and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as they could have gotten their caucus to either overrule or replace the parliamentarian to push their agenda through, similar to when Republicans used reconciliation for the Bush tax cuts. Objections were made by Manchin and Sinema and Biden put forth no effort to get them to fall in line with his agenda.  

6. Failing To Take Significant Action On Climate Change

Biden has made a number of climate-related missteps during his time as president, such as approving 78 million acres of offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, which will be the largest offshore oil and gas auction in U.S. history. Biden has also supported a project which would carry 760,000 barrels of Canadian oil across indigenous land in Minnesota and Wisconsin that carries a carbon cost of $287 billion. 

The pipeline would pass through treaty-protected lands and would burn nearly 200 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere during the pipeline’s lifetime, equivalent to 38 million cars. 

“The administration’s support for the pipeline is “a betrayal of the Indian people,” said Winona LaDuke, executive director and a co-founder of Honor the Earth.