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Time Magazine 17th January 2022 Double Issue

He’s presided over The rollouT of $2 trillion in health care funding and stimulus payments, seen the unemployment rate drop to 4.2%, made COVID-19 vaccines available for free to everyone in the country over 5 years old, and signed a trillion-dollar infrastructure law. But voters, fatigued by the uncertainties of the ongoing pandemic, have seemed reluctant to give the President credit; Joe Biden enters the New Year down in the polls, with nearly a quarter of Americans still hesitant to get vaccinated, and a recovering economy strained by inflation and an unpredictable supply chain.

That puts him in a precarious position at the start of 2022. With an evenly divided Senate and a narrow majority in the House, Democrats may lose control of Congress in the midterm elections on Nov. 8. The checklist of what Biden wants to accomplish in his second year in office has to be ticked off with a limited amount of political capital and a limited amount of time.

Infighting among Democrats has already delayed the next raft of Biden’s priorities, including expanding paid family leave and access to health care and childcare, and funding more programs to reduce carbon emissions. But how the country fares in this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to be the single biggest factor impacting what Biden can accomplish and how he will be judged, experts say. “The virus is going to determine what the second year looks like” for President Biden, says Timothy Naftali, a historian at New York University.

Going into the New Year, just over 73% of Americans have gotten at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine; about 62% are fully vaccinated, according to data tracked by the Mayo Clinic. The Omicron variant has given more urgency to Biden’s efforts to persuade the unvaccinated to get their shots, have parents vaccinate their children ages 5 and above, make rapid tests more widely available and urge those who are vaccinated to get boosters. Biden has promised that the federal government will distribute for free a halfbillion home rapid tests in the coming months, and called up a surge of 1,000 troops to overstretched hospitals. Time Magazine 17th January 2022 Double Issue


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