President Biden badly needs a big political win to shore up his credibility, but right now, it's not clear where this deus ex machina is going to come from, writes Donald Forbes.

Aside from a flurry of executive orders to undo Donald Trump's legacy, Biden has little to show for a presidency that the supportive liberal media proclaimed would be the second coming of FDR. On the contrary, circumstances are setting Biden up for failure. His big spending domestic programme is stalled in the evenly-balanced senate where Democrats Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema have jibbed at its left-wing extravagance, so denying their party a majority for controversial policies.

In foreign policy, rumours of an early restoration of the nuclear deal with Iran have evaporated. China publicly humiliated Biden's Secretary of State Tony Blinken over the United States' human rights record. The President of Guatemala publicly blamed the president for opening the floodgates to illegal immigration into the US.

Even if he's a relief from Trump's constant psychodramas, Biden's approval rating is just over 50%, far below that of George W Bush and Barack Obama at this stage in their presidencies.

After wresting power from Trump, Democrats loudly talked their way past their slender hold on Congress and boasted of enacting a radical and irrevocable transformation of the country before the the reckoning at midterm elections in 2022. So far though, it's been almost nothing but hot air.

Biden counted on two things to shield him from a backlash from Middle America against his progressive agenda; an economic boom as Covid receded and a wave of public gratitude for the anti-virus vaccinations which would distract voters' attention from a left-wing agenda that makes even moderate Democrats queasy. Neither has happened. Employers complain they cannot recruit because the salaries they offer can't match the generous unemployment cheques workers are getting from Washington. Inflation meanwhile is beginning to rise ominously. On Covid vaccinations, voters know Biden is taking credit for what Trump put in place.

Predictably, Biden's ambitions are floundering in the Senate where the administration lacks the votes to pass big bills that are vital to the Democrats' plans to assure their continuity in power. These are not just the $6 trillion dollar blowout on greening the economy and redistributing more taxes from the richer to the poorer.

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Taxes go up and down depending on which party is in power but Democrats want something less vulnerable to unpredictable political winds. They want the Senate to pass house leader Nancy Pelosi's bill to federalise elections to the congress which are run by the states. The bill's aim is to remove as many safeguards against fraudulent voting as possible even if its language is less explicit. They want statehood for Washington DC and Puerto Rico which would provide four additional Democratic senators.

To do either, they need to destroy the Senate filibuster that requires the support of 60 senators to pass most legislation, so that a simple majority will do the job. The current senate is divided 50-50 between the two parties with Vice-President Harris holding the casting vote which makes the obstinacy of Manchin and Sinema a jump too high. Both see the filibuster as a guarantee of bipartisanship.

Like so many White House predecessors, Biden is discovering that the governance of the United States is complicated because the authors of the constitution intended consensus to prevail over the excesses of ephemeral political majorities

America is in a febrile political condition post-Trump. Americans have been divided by the rise of racial activism and not just because of George Floyd. Racial and sexual identity issues which challenge the predominance of the white majority over the growing non-white minority inevitably have a party warfare dimension.

Black and Critical Race Theory activists operating through the Democratic party have never before been so aggressive in demanding not equality but equity, meaning the guarantee of economic success for each minority group in proportion to its size, regardless of merit

New Monetary Theory claims, contrary to all of economic history, that government debt is no long a threat to Americans' financial security. Washington can throw any amount of fiat money it likes at any problem without fear of adverse consequences. Government debt is meanwhile on course to reach $30 billion by the end of this decade – unknown territory.

Even if the logjam in congress breaks in Biden's favour and the dollar tap is turned on, inflation and slower economic growth could pose a threat to the Democrats in 2022. The circumstances of the next few months could dictate a tactical retreat to the centre. However, since Biden is not his own man, despite being president, he may not be able to do that. Five months in, everything looks different from the jubilant days of January.

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