If President Joe Biden’s first six months in office is any indicator, his presidency in some ways is a continuation of President Barack Obama’s time in office. But there are key differences.
Biden’s presidency is nearly a carbon copy of Obama’s when it comes to domestic policy issues, from immigration and the economy to social issues and health care.
When it came it immigration, the Obama administration stressed that the solution to illegal immigration was “confronting the root of the problem with top-level diplomatic efforts in Central America.”
Biden has taken the cue, appointing Vice President Kamala Harris to head his administration’s response to the ongoing migrant surge at the Southern Border. Harris has since insisted that the border should not be the focal point of the American discussion of illegal immigration. (RELATED: Kamala Harris’ Team Reportedly Panicked After Biden Gave Her Immigration Assignment)
Harris argues her role is to address the “root causes” of immigration in Guatemala and Mexico, such as high crime rates and poverty. She made her first diplomatic trip as vice president to address these “root causes,” but the effort was somewhat poorly received.
Republicans have criticized her for prioritizing the trip to Central America over visiting the U.S.-Mexico border itself. It has been nearly 100 days since Biden tapped her to lead the administration’s immigration efforts, though she has promised to visit the border “soon.”
“I care about what’s happening at the border. I’m in Guatemala because my focus is dealing with the root causes of migration,” Harris told NBC News Host Lester Holt in an interview. “There may be some who think that that is not important but it is my firm belief that if we care about what’s happening at the border, we better care about the root causes and address them, and so that’s what I’m doing.”
Biden also echoes Obama’s priorities on the economy and social issues, though he has proven more willing to spend vast amounts of money to get it done. Obama’s flagship accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, cost taxpayers an estimated $1.76 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). That barely equals the smallest of Biden’s spending packages, the American Rescue, Jobs, and Families plans, which total roughly $6 trillion.
Obama himself has said he views the Biden administration as a continuation of his own presidency, at least in so far as specific policies within the agenda. (RELATED: Biden Signs Juneteenth National Independence Day Act Into Law, Marking America’s Newest National Holiday)
Biden and Obama hold similar views on social issues as well; and since former President Donald Trump rolled back much of Obama’s agenda, some of Biden’s actions were focused on bringing some of them back. For example, Obama was the first president to end the ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military. Trump reinstated that ban, only for Biden to once again end the ban soon after gaining office.
Biden’s presidency has differed from Obama’s in some key ways when it comes to foreign policy, however. Biden has succeeded where Obama failed in setting a date of withdrawal to bring home troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. There are also notable differences in how Biden is dealing with China.
Biden has made competition with China the top priority for his foreign policy agenda, framing the struggle between the U.S. and China as one that will determine whether democracy or autocracy will lead the world into the future.
As a result, Biden’s agenda has emphasized returning manufacturing jobs to American soil in a way that Obama’s presidency never did. It has also led to the revitalization of the Quad alliance between the U.S., Japan, Australia, and India — which focuses on economically isolating China.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken has echoed Biden’s agenda on China, calling the communist nation out on its litany of human rights abuses. (RELATED: House Republicans: ‘Significant Circumstantial Evidence’ COVID-19 Originated From Wuhan Lab Leak)
“The more China hears not just our opprobrium, but a chorus of opprobrium from around the world, the better the chance that we’ll get some changes,” Blinken said. “It would be very important if China claims that there is nothing going on that it give access to the international community, to the United Nations. If they have nothing to hide, show it to us. Show the world.”
Still, Biden’s critics have argued he is not being aggressive enough toward China, specifically when it comes to getting to the bottom of the origins of COVID-19. While Biden’s White House has called for an international investigation into the lab leak theory, the administration has said the U.S. should not lead the investigation.
Biden also has yet to propose consequences for China should it continue to withhold access to labs and critical data about the origins of the coronavirus.