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Biden beset by crises following reversals of Trump policies

"Weak leadership is the cause of all of these crises," said Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), citing surging illegal immigration, the Colonial Pipeline hack, and the flare-up of violence in the Middle East.

Updated: May 14, 2021 - 12:29pm

President Biden entered the Oval Office nearly four months ago and immediately signed dozens of executive orders and made sweeping legislative proposals aimed at rolling back the policies of former President Donald Trump. Early in the Biden presidency, the United States is now facing a series of emerging crises that critics attribute directly to these reversals of Trump-era policies and positions.

"Weak leadership is the cause of all of these crises," freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) told the John Solomon Reports podcast, citing the surge of illegal immigration, the disabling Colonial Pipeline hack, and the flare-up of violence in the Middle East.

Border

According to the most recent figures, the Customs and Border Patrol agency encountered more than 178,000 illegal migrants crossing into the United States via the southern border in April. That figure is up slightly from the already-high 172,000 recorded in March.

Nearly half a million illegal crossers have been shuttled through the immigration system and released into the U.S. since Biden assumed office, and countless thousands more have come in undetected. Within a few days of arrival most migrants "have legal documents, and are sent on their way to all four corners of the United States," according to Todd Bensman, a fellow with the Center for Immigration Studies who is stationed at the Texas-Mexico border.

On his first day in office, Biden took major steps to reverse Trump border policies, including:

While many high-profile Republican politicians have visited the border and reported on the immigration flood overwhelming federal facilities, few Democrats have made the trip, and even fewer have publicly acknowledged the dimensions of the crisis. The White House has been mostly silent on the issue, often sending Press Secretary Jen Psaki into the briefing room to skirt, deflect, and dodge questions.

The legislation Biden has sent to Congress suggests he may wish to create a system that offers a pathway to citizenship to the illegal immigrants that have flooded into the country since January.

Americans will begin to feel the impact of the tide of illegal immigration during the upcoming school year, predicted Bensman, when local school districts will be required to hire additional ESL instructors because "nobody speaks any English." They will also require health care.

In an interview on "Just the News AM," Bensman warned that taxes will rise to accommodate the care needed by the hundreds of thousands of migrants, "virtually none" of whom, he said, are eligible for asylum.

"These are economic immigrants," who are here because the new president created an inviting environment for them, said Bensman, citing conversations he has had on the border. 

Economy

The strength of the economy was the crowning achievement of the Trump presidency, at least until the pandemic. President Biden inherited high rates of joblessness, mostly caused by continued COVID-19 restrictions that depress economic activity. In theory, job creation should increase as restrictions are lifted. However, last week's dismal jobs report coupled with a current annual inflation rate of 4.2%, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers, indicate that Biden's economic policy measures may be misfiring across the board.

While some states are moving to end their pandemic unemployment assistance programs in order to motivate the jobless to seek work and help small business owners in need of employees, the president affirmed his support for continuing enhanced unemployment benefits despite the disappointing jobs report.

Biden has repeatedly said that he does not believe the enhanced benefits had a "measurable" impact on the jobs numbers. Yet, even as he is dismissing widespread concerns about the disincentivizing effects of the enhanced benefits, he promised earlier this week that his administration is "going to make it clear that anyone collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits."

"It's just not a good deal for these workers to go back on the job," said economist Stephen Moore.

The work disincentives are "causing chokeholds in the supply chain," he explained. "Truckers are saying they can't get oil to the gas pumps because they don't have enough drivers. This is a real drag on the economy right now. And it's so easily solved."

The White House now says the president is directing the secretary of labor to issue guidance to states to "reinstate work search requirements for UI recipients, if health and safety conditions allow."

The rising inflation rate is another worrisome issue as stock markets slid Tuesday and Wednesday in reaction to the Labor Department's April consumer prices report, which showed spiking prices for food, clothes, and cars. The Federal Reserve is insisting that the inflation is a temporary side-effect of America's economic recovery from the pandemic. Outside economists are not so sure.

Seema Shah, the chief strategist at London-based investment firm Principal Global Investors, told the BBC that the inflation rate came in "meaningfully higher than expected and will further stoke concerns that the Fed has misread the inflation story." She called the April Consumer Price Index a "big miss," making it, along with the jobs report, the administration's second "big miss" in under a week. Concerns about inflation are leading to consumer stockpiling of food and other basic items. 

Middle East

More than 1,500 rockets have been launched into Israel by militant terrorist group Hamas since the week began. Several Israelis and dozens of Palestinians have been killed, as the Israeli Defense Forces trade fire with their hostile neighbors.

Biden waited several days before addressing the issue personally Wednesday evening, saying he had spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and affirming that Israel has the right to defend itself. His response was met by criticism from progressive members of his party. Earlier in the week, Psaki, on behalf of the president condemned the outbreak of violence in the region in neutral terms. "Jerusalem, a city of such importance to people of faith around the world, must be a place of coexistence," she said.

Following the notoriously icy relationship between former President Barack Obama and Netanyahu, Donald Trump oversaw a period of unprecedented warmth in U.S.-Israeli relations, during which his administration moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, officially recognizing the holy city as the nation's capital. He then brokered the Abraham Accords, which established a framework for a new era of normalized relations between Israel and historic Gulf Arab adversaries.

After this week's rocket attacks, Trump wrote, "America must always stand with Israel and make clear that the Palestinians must end the violence, terror, and rocket attacks, and make clear that the U.S. will always strongly support Israel's right to defend itself."

On Wednesday afternoon, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced he would send senior aide Hady Amr to the region to urge calm between Israeli and Palestinian forces. (Conservative websites including Breitbart and Front Page have claimed that Amr, a naturalized American of Lebanese birth, has an anti-Israel bias.)

In the meantime, Netanyahu recently said of his forces' ongoing rocket fire: "This is just the beginning. We'll hit them like they've never dreamed possible."

Pipeline

In an unexpected turn of events reminiscent of scenes from the 1970s, much of the East Coast is now looking at fuel shortages. Following the Russian hacking group DarkSide's attack on the Colonial Pipeline, several states declared a state of emergency in the face of shortages at gas stations, as the pipeline struggled to come back online. Members of the administration and some governors are encouraging Americans to refrain from panic-buying gas, but others have suspended gasoline taxes and fuel regulations in response.

Colonial announced Wednesday evening that it had begun the process of restarting pipeline operations after paying the hackers nearly $5 million. It could still be days, however, before the pipeline is fully operational, meaning gas outages will continue for the near term. 

"If this outage goes past the end of the week ... prices could spike pretty dramatically," Kevin Book, head of research at Clearview Energy Partners, told CBS News. National gas prices have already risen six cents over the last week to $2.96 per gallon, according to AAA.

Gas prices were on the rise even before DarkSide executed its attack, thanks in part to Biden administration environmental policies that have inhibited U.S. oil production — reversals of Trump administration policies that prioritized U.S. energy independence.

Gas lines, inflation, economic stagnation, and a brewing crisis in the Middle East (to say nothing of the border) have led some to liken the early days of the Biden presidency to the ill-fated presidency of Jimmy Carter. On Wednesday, Trump made it clear he thinks the comparison is unfair ... to Carter.

"Jimmy mishandled crisis after crisis, but Biden has CREATED crisis after crisis ... someday, they will compare future disasters to the Biden Administration — but no, Jimmy was better," the former president wrote to his supporters.

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