President Biden insisted Wednesday that he did not overpromise on his agenda amid a series of setbacks at the one-year mark of his presidency, making the case that his administration has made progress in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and on other fronts.  

“I didn’t overpromise, and what I have probably outperformed what anybody thought would happen,” Biden said in response to a question at his first news conference of 2022.  “I think if you take a look at what we’ve been able to do, you’d have to acknowledge we’ve made enormous progress.”  

Biden said Wednesday that his administration has made “enormous progress” on the virus specifically, adding, “It’s getting better.”  

Biden said his challenge has been getting Republicans on board with “making things better in this country.”  

“I did not anticipate that there would be such a stalwart effort to make sure that the most important thing was that President Biden didn’t get anything done,” Biden said, adding: “What are Republicans for? What are they for?” 

Biden suggested he would do more in the coming weeks to talk about his accomplishments and draw a contrast with Republican lawmakers.  

“What I have to do, in the change in tactic, if you will, I have to make the case to the American people what we are for. We have passed a lot. We have passed a lot of things that people don’t understand all that’s in it, understandably,” Biden said, adding that he would make the case directly to Americans across the country about what the Democrats have accomplished.  

“I tell my Republican friends, here I come. This is going to be about what are you for,” Biden said. 

Biden put that new strategy to test throughout the news conference, asking rhetorically what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans are “for” to suggest they have no agenda behind obstructing his own.   

The comments foretell a burgeoning effort by Biden and his allies to sharpen attacks against Republicans as the November midterm elections loom.   

The remarks came on the eve of Biden marking his first year in office, at a time the president is facing steep challenges to his domestic agenda. Inflation is at a 40-year high, Biden’s signature social policy bill is stalled and the COVID-19 pandemic is surging in the United States due to the omicron variant.

Biden is facing low approval ratings and the public is exhausted by the coronavirus pandemic, which Biden campaigned on defeating in 2020.

In a prepared opening statement, Biden touted his administration’s progress on ushering in a robust economic recovery and vaccinating 75 percent of the adult U.S. population against COVID-19.  

At the same time, he acknowledged Americans’ frustrations with the seemingly unending pandemic and the high prices of goods.  

“For all this progress, I know there’s a lot of frustration and fatigue in this country. And we know why: COVID-19,” Biden said.  

He insisted the country has the tools to fight the virus – including masks and vaccines – and to keep schools and businesses physically open. Biden also said he would not accept the current state of the country as the “new normal.”  

“I’m not going to give up and accept things are they are now,” Biden said.  

On inflation, Biden said the best way to tackle high prices is to address supply chain woes and make the economy “more productive.” He said the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill would supercharge those efforts, adding that passing his Build Back Better social and climate package would also lower costs for Americans. 

“If price increases are what you’re worried about, the best answer is my Build back Better plan,” Biden said, later acknowledging that the stalled package will need to be broken up if it has a chance of passing the Senate.  

Updated: 7:07 p.m.

Tags Joe Biden Mitch McConnell

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