Conservative Friends of the Commonwealth (CFOC) recently recorded a series of podcasts exploring Joe Biden’s first 100 days as US President.
Beginning with Robert Zoellick, who possesses a distinguished career as President of the World Bank Group, Deputy Secretary of State and Deputy Chief of Staff to George H. W. Bush, Biden’s vaccine operation was heavily commended. However, Zoellick also emphasis the twin crises triggered by the pandemic, in health and the economy, with the latter now becoming Biden’s focus with the passing of a stimulus bill in Congress.
Turning to Biden’s management of the Democratic party, Zoellick suggests that while Biden has typically been on the left wing of the party, he is likely to have conflicts with the progressive wing increasingly becoming the dominant force. Zoellick, inevitably drawing on his extensive experience developing Bush Sr.’s public perception at the White House, asserts that Biden’s must balance his image as the approachable ‘Good Old Joe’ among the public while simultaneously upholding the coalition of outlooks within the Democratic Party.
Continuing the analysis of Biden’s first 100 days, CFOC interviewed Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. Similarly to Zoellick, Chertoff emphasises Biden’s success in deploying coronavirus vaccination, coordinating the logistical colossus of locating, approving and distributing vaccines to individual states. However, he also warns against the tide of ‘anti-vaxxers’ prevalent in the US.
Chertoff concurs with Zoellick that mitigating the economic damage of the recession will become Biden’s next challenge, highlighting the importance of the Infrastructure Bill in creating jobs, which includes fixing 20,000 miles of road and 10,000 bridges. Chertoff, a Republican, draws attention to left-leaning economic policies from Biden such as pausing student loan payments and possibly forgiving portions of the loan altogether, though this story continues to develop at the time of writing.
Finally, CFOC heard from General Robert Spalding, a retired US Air Force brigadier general who served as Senior Director for Strategic Planning on the National Security Council under Donald Trump and now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
Spalding initially discusses illegal immigration under Biden. As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, a swathe of job applicants, a significant portion of which will be illegal immigrants, will suppress the salaries of such jobs. As a result, this conflicts with the historically pro-labour position of Biden, a conundrum to which the White House has not yet found a solution.
On foreign policy, specifically the War in Afghanistan, Spalding praises Biden’s commitment to upholding Trump’s withdrawal of troops from the country thus unlocking investment for domestic priorities such as education. However, on humanitarian issues he also points to a lack of concrete policy on China’s treatment of Uyghurs and Hong Kong, which has so far been the subject of mere reaffirmations of previous positions by Secretary of State Blinken. Referring to his book ‘Stealth War’, Spalding does not foresee Biden nor his advisers going further than a ‘slap on the wrist’ towards China due to a willingness to promote their mutual interests.
Continuing the theme from previous podcasts of managing the Democratic Party, Spalding accurately states that the Republican Party also suffers from internal conflict, most recently between Liz Cheney and House Republicans. Additionally, he criticises ‘hyperpartisanism’ in the US where those most in control of a political party prioritise loyalty to their party over their electors. Finally, Spalding discusses the migration of rural Americans to urban cities in pursuit of jobs at the expense of these rural areas. Biden’s Infrastructure Bill, claims Spalding, will shift the balance of power as infrastructures including improved broadband will be delivered to previously neglected rural areas.
This article is merely a summary of points discussed from CFOC’s 100 Days of Biden podcast series; if you would like to gain a deeper understanding of the issues, we highly encourage you to watch the full videos on our Youtube channel: