Photo credot: Anna Moneymaker / The New York Times

3-month assessment of President Biden’s leadership performance

Article originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on April 19, 2021.

President Joe Biden has been in office for three months. Let’s take a look at how he is doing on five of the major issues facing his presidency. My view is that he is proceeding in the right direction on the pandemic, infrastructure, environment and gun violence, but not on illegal entry of immigrants across our border with Mexico.

Pandemic

Biden has relentlessly focused on getting people vaccinated against Covid-19. He had a goal of vaccinating 100 million people during his first 100 days in office, which was surpassed on the 58th day. His new goal is to have 200 million people vaccinated by his 100th day in office. 

Biden has the right tone at the top, communicating why getting vaccinated is important for everyone. A trait of all effective leaders is to show that they care, which builds trust. Biden possesses this trait.

Infrastructure

For too long we have ignored our deteriorating roads, bridges, rail and other infrastructure systems. China, our primary trade adversary, has been heavily investing in their own infrastructure. On Feb. 11, Biden stated, “If we don’t get moving, [China] is going to eat our lunch.” Improving our infrastructure is an investment in increasing our productivity and long-term competitiveness. It simply must be done. 

So as not to increase the trillion dollar annual deficit caused by the 2017 tax cuts, Biden is proposing to increase tax rates of high income individuals and corporations, but not to the level prior to 2017. 

An analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows that 55 of the largest U.S. corporations avoided paying any federal income tax in their most recent fiscal year by taking advantage of tax loopholes and avoidance strategies. These corporations would have paid $8.5 billion in taxes annually had they paid at their statutory rate. On April 13, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stated that the GOP will not back a corporate tax increase. Will the GOP support closing some of these loopholes to pay for infrastructure improvements?

Environment

On Feb. 19, the U.S. rejoined the Paris Climate Accords, fulfilling a Biden campaign promise. Under the accords, the U.S. will recommit to fighting global warming by adopting policies to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. 

Contrary to near unanimous scientific opinion, some individuals believe that greenhouse gas emissions don’t cause global warming or that it’s not occurring. Others raise the objection that fighting global warming is costly and will cost jobs. I recall a similar objection by the auto companies when they fought raising the fuel efficiency standards for vehicles during the 1970s. In fact, new jobs were created, new technology was developed and fuel efficiency rose significantly.

I can’t imagine the adverse impact on our economy, global competitiveness and standard of living today if our cars still averaged 13 miles per gallon. I can’t imagine the adverse impact on our economy, global competitiveness and standard of living four decades from now if we don’t address climate change today.

Photo credot: Anna Moneymaker / The New York Times

Gun violence

On April 8, Biden announced a series of executive orders aimed at curbing the epidemic of gun violence, with mass shootings occurring nearly every day. Hopefully, second amendment advocates in Congress will realize this issue needs to be addressed, and that Biden’s proposals do not weaken the second amendment, but extend laws already in place.

Biden’s executive orders include requiring that key components of “ghost guns,” which are assembled at home from kits, have serial numbers so they can be traced if involved in a crime. In addition, purchasers of ghost gun assembly kits would need to undergo background checks in the same manner as guns purchased from a licensed gun dealer. 

Handguns modified with a stabilizing brace would be subject to National Firearms Act regulations. Red flag laws, which currently exist in 17 states, would become a national law, allowing family members or law enforcement authorities to petition the court to temporarily remove guns from people found to be a danger to themselves or others.

Illegal entry into the U.S.

Biden has failed to develop and implement an effective policy regarding illegal entry of immigrants. His public statements about wanting to be more humane than the previous administration sends a signal to people of Central and South America to come north, overwhelming our ability to protect our southern border and process requests for asylum.

Biden will need to seriously consider all options to stem the flow of immigrants entering the U.S. without legal permission, including completing the wall along our southern border. 

Swing voters will determine control of Congress in 2022. Right-wing or left-wing hard-core doctrinaire ideological positions will not win the swing vote for either Republicans or Democrats. Open minds, compromise and pragmatism will. Biden’s leadership skills will be tested as he threads this needle.

 

Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership and author of “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He is also a speaker, advisor and widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership, entrepreneurship and corporate governance. He can be reached at Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com.

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