Confused about President Biden’s policies? You’re not alone

President Biden calls on a reporter for questions
Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press
President Biden calls on a reporter for questions

On numerous policy issues, President Biden seems willing to take a firm stand only later to take a position that seems to contradict or undermine his initial stand.

The country faces several intractable policy issues. Reasonable people can and have tried to defend their side. And yet on the following six issues, Biden has so contradicted himself that he is angering – and confusing – both sides.

The Biden economy is great — and so bad we must cancel college debt.

At his press conference on April 1, Biden asserted: “Record job creation. Record unemployment declines. Record wage gains. … People are making more money.  They’re finding better jobs.” And after the solid May 6 jobs report, Biden proclaimed, “Our plans and policies have produced the strongest job creation economy in modern times.”

On the other hand, the economy is so bad that the U.S. Department of Education announced on April 6 that it would extend the pause in student loan repayment, interest and collections through Aug. 31. Apparently, millions of Americans with student loans can’t find a good job so they can begin repaying those loans again.

The loan repayment pause was initiated by President Trump at the outset of the pandemic. But why continue it at the cost of an estimated $4 billion a month if, as the president says, the economy is booming and workers are earning more money?

We’re still in a pandemic — but we can let anyone in the country.

The pandemic is still enough of a public health emergency that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently extended its mask mandate on public transportation, including the airlines. A federal judge vacated that order, but the Biden Justice Department filed suit to have it restored.

But the pandemic is apparently not that much of a threat, because Biden still plans to end the Trump-era policy known as Title 42, a provision that allows the government to deport illegal border-crossers during a public health emergency. And while the administration claims those crossing illegally are being vaccinated, some news reports challenge that assertion.

So, the administration can essentially ignore the public health threat posed by immigrants crossing illegally, but not Americans who want to travel, the vast majority of whom will be vaccinated or have antibodies.

We must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels — and we must produce more.

One of Biden’s stranger policy contradictions is his repeated condemnations of the fossil fuel industry and assertion that we need to end our reliance on fossil fuels, even as he is now calling on fossil fuel producers – both in the U.S. and the Middle East – to quickly ramp up production. And he is demonizing them for not increasing production fast enough to lower gasoline prices — at least not fast enough to help Democrats’ election chances in November.

We want oil and gas producers to pump more — so we will raise their taxes.

It’s a well-understood economic principle that when the government subsidizes something we get more of it, when the government taxes something we get less of it.

So, Biden wants the oil and natural gas companies to produce more, but he wants to impose a windfall-profits tax on them, which would likely result in them producing less.

Thank Biden for the rising price of labor (i.e., wages) — but not the rising price of everything else.

Wages have been going up, and Biden initially took credit for it. Then one of his advisers must have mentioned that one reason for the wage increases is to try to keep up with the even faster-rising inflation, for which Biden refuses to take the blame.

We want a cleaner environment — but a little more smog is just fine.

On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order declaring, “It is, therefore, the policy of my Administration to listen to the science; to improve public health and protect our environment; to ensure access to clean air and water; to limit exposure to dangerous chemicals and pesticides; to hold polluters accountable …”

And yet, right before this year’s Earth Day, April 22, the president announced the administration would be suspending the regulation that typically runs from June 1 to Sept. 15 prohibiting the sale of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol, referred to as E15.

While most gasoline in the United States has 10 percent ethanol (E10), E15 is thought to produce more smog when burned in the heat of summer. But because a gallon of ethanol is a little less expensive than gasoline these days, Biden took the action in order to appear to be trying to do something – anything – about high gasoline prices.

A stable economy needs stable policies. And businesses, consumers and regulators all need to know what those policies are. Unfortunately for the economy and the country, Biden’s policies keep shifting, depending on the latest crisis — and the latest polls.

Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @MerrillMatthews.

Tags Biden Biden administration biden environmental policy Biden presidency gas prices Joe Biden mask mandate

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