By CHRIS MEGERIAN, FATIMA HUSSEIN and ELLEN KNICKMEYER – Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden went to the State Department headquarters to tell the rest of the world that the United States could be counted on again after four years of Donald Trump’s china-shop bull foreign policy.
“America is back,” Biden said, in what has become a mantra.
But keeping his promises on the international stage has proven much more difficult than Biden might have expected. Domestic politics has routinely been an obstacle when it comes to taking action on climate change, taxes Y pandemic reliefundermining hopes that Biden can quickly restore the US to its unquestioned role as world leader.
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The result is an administration struggling to maintain its credibility abroad while Biden fights behind the scenes on Capitol Hill. It’s just harder to push other countries to do more to address challenges that transcend borders when he’s struggling to meet those same issues at home.
“Every new thing takes the shine off it a little bit and adds to the sense of a president in distress,” said Michael O’Hanlon, director of foreign policy research at the Brookings Institution.
Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said that Biden “has reset our alliances, including our essential partnership with Europe, built new platforms and institutions in some of the world’s most relevant regions,” including the Indo-Pacific, and demonstrated leadership on “the issues that matter most.
But his foreign policy record is much more mixed when he needs to win support in Congress.
Although it has secured about $54 billion in military and financial assistance for Ukraine – something Watson described as a historic amount delivered with “unprecedented speed” – many of his initiatives remain uniformly opposed by Republicans, and Biden has been stymied by disagreements among Democrats.
The most recent problem has been the breakdown of on-and-off negotiations with Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., who pulled your support for a potential compromise on legislation to address climate change and create a global minimum tax.
On both issues, Biden had already made commitments or reached an international agreement, but the US commitment is now in doubt.
The global minimum tax is intended to make it harder for companies to avoid taxes by moving from one country to another in search of lower rates. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen played a leading role in negotiating the agreement between 130 countries.
“Reaching this consensus was not easy,” Biden said when the deal was announced just over a year ago. “It took an American vision, as well as a commitment to cooperate closely with our partners around the world. It is a testament to how leadership rooted in our values can create important progress for families everywhere.”
He acknowledged that “building on this deal will also require us to take action here at home,” and now it looks like that action may not happen.
Biden wanted Congress to pass a proposal that would allow the US to impose additional taxes on businesses that don’t pay at least 15%, whether at home or abroad.
But Manchin opposed tax changes in the legislation that currently under consideration,
Administration officials said they won’t give up on a plan that they said would “level the playing field for corporate America, decrease incentives to move jobs overseas, and close loopholes that corporations have used to move jobs abroad.” profits abroad.
“It is too important to our economic strength and competitiveness not to finalize this agreement, and we will continue to pursue all possible avenues to do so,” said Treasury Department spokesman Michael Kikukawa.
But moving forward with the original agreement is likely to prove difficult at this point, said Chye-Ching Huang, executive director of the Tax Law Center at New York University School of Law.
“There is no question that this reduces momentum,” he said.
He added: “There is a strong possibility that major trading partners will do this without the US, but the way forward is more difficult.”
Manchin has also been an obstacle to Biden’s climate change plans, a reflection of his great influence at a time when Democrats have the narrowest margin in the Senate.
A few months after taking office, Biden hosted a virtual conference with other world leaders, and announced that he would increase the country’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The decision was welcomed by scientists and politicians who fear not enough is being done to prevent the planet from heating to dangerous levels, and Biden has spoken of fighting climate change with “the power of our example.”
However, Biden’s ability to deliver on his promise has been undermined twice recently. First the conservative majority on the Supreme Court limited the powers of the administration to regulate emissions, and later Manchin said he would not support new spending to support clean energy projects.
John Kerry, Biden’s global climate envoy, said earlier this month that the administration’s struggles could “slow the pace” of other countries’ emissions cuts.
“They will do their own analysis that will possibly have an impact on what they decide to do or not do,” he said.
Biden is trying to show that he will advance on his ownwithout legislation, and is considering declaring a state of emergency that would allow it to divert more resources to climate initiatives.
But his powers are limited and hitting the target can be difficult, if not impossible.
Nathaniel Keohane, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, said the clock is ticking until the next United Nations summit on climate change, which is scheduled for November in Egypt.
Unless the administration can demonstrate progress before then, “it will hamper the ability of the US to continue to pressure other countries,” Keohane said. “It would profoundly undermine America’s credibility on climate.”
He added: “More rhetoric is not going to meet the need right now.”
Biden has also had trouble convincing Congress to provide him with more funds to deal with the pandemic.
When Dr. Ashish Jha, who heads the administration’s coronavirus task force, appeared in the White House briefing room for the first time in April, he stressed that vaccines were needed around the world to prevent new variants from emerging. .
“If we are going to fight a global pandemic, we have to have a global approach,” he said. “That means we need funding to make sure we’re getting gunshots around the world.”
Biden originally wanted $22.5 billion. Lawmakers reduced the proposal to $15.6 billion, but even that was cut from a $1.5 trillion government spending plan the president signed in March.
Efforts to resurrect the proposal have been unsuccessful.
“The new money debacle has really set us back,” said J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Center for Global Health Policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “There is paralysis and uncertainty.”
Morrison emphasized that the United States has played “a very serious and honorable leadership role” with its vaccine donations and its work with the World Bank to establish a new fund to prepare for future pandemics.
But without new legislation, Morrison said, stronger plans to support vaccination campaigns in other countries are on hold.
“We are in a difficult place right now,” he said.
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