OPINION: Successes, failures from President Biden’s first year

A voter drops his ballot into the ballot box at the Riley County Republican Party Presidential Caucus March 5, 2016, at Manhattan High School. (Archive photo by Parker Robb | Collegian Media Group)

It’s been exactly one year since President Joe Biden raised his right hand and took the Oath of Office for President of United States. Since then, he has faced a whirlwind of challenges and successes. While his first year saw many more struggles than successes, let’s look back at some of the things he did well and struggled with during 2021.


Honorable mentions include passing a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, unemployment dropping to 3.9 percent and appointing and confirming more than 40 federal judges.

Record Job Growth:

Biden’s administration set a record for jobs created in the first year of a presidency. Since Biden entered office on Jan. 20, 2021, his administration added six million jobs, one million less than his predecessor created before the COVID-19 pandemic. While an argument can be made that these numbers are because of many returning to work following the pandemic, it is still an impressive statistic for the administration.

Passing a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law:

This will go down as Biden’s biggest success from his first year. Even though in-fighting in Congress delayed the passage of the bill, Biden became the first president in decades to pass an infrastructure bill with bipartisan support. The $1.2 trillion package allocates $110 billion for roads, bridges and other major projects and $65 billion for broadband development along with other spending priorities.

Vaccine Distribution:

Building off his predecessor’s Operation Warp Speed, the Biden administration has overseen the vaccination of millions of Americans against COVID-19. As of Jan. 18, 2022, 63 percent of Americans are described as “fully vaccinated,” meaning they’ve received either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Seventy-four percent of Americans have received at least one shot. Over 600 million doses have been distributed by the U.S. government and 82 percent of the vaccines have been used.


Honorable mentions include failure to unify the country, a border crisis and supply chain shortages.


The botched withdrawal from Afghanistan and takeover of the country by the Taliban was the defining moment of Biden’s first year in office. The U.S. began withdrawing troops in July, which led to the Taliban building up their forces to take over the country. By mid-August, disaster ensued as the Taliban took over Afghanistan with Americans and Afghan allies left behind. Biden promised to have every American and Afghan ally to the U.S. removed by Aug. 31. However, as of Jan. 5, 2022, hundreds are still left behind. Biden and the U.S. received widespread condemnation from the withdrawal, especially after thirteen U.S. service members were tragically killed in the Kabul Airport bombing on Aug. 25, 2021. Biden saw his approval numbers, which were in the high-40s to low-50s at the time of the withdrawal, drop into the low-to-mid-40s.


Inflation has been another big-ticket issue for the Biden administration, and many Americans have soured on the President’s response to it. When Biden entered office in January 2021, inflation sat at 1.4 percent. By January, inflation was at seven percent, the highest it has been since June 1982.

The administration initially downplayed the threats of inflation, calling it a “short-term problem.” However, in late 2021, the administration admitted that inflation could last until the end of 2022. Republicans have continued to criticize him for this, and it could lead to major issues for his party in the midterm elections.


This has been a mixed bag. Biden’s central campaign argument was that he would better address the pandemic unlike his predecessor, Donald Trump. Unfortunately, cases remain on the rise under Biden from COVID-19 because of a string of new variants emerging, and more people died from COVID-19 in the U.S. in 2021 than in 2020. While this is certainly not Biden’s fault, people are starting to grow impatient, and the president has seen once high approval numbers on COVID-19 dwindle to the mid-40s.

AJ Shaw is a Collegian staff writer and a sophomore in mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.