Tracking Biden’s campaign promises, one year in – Tampa Bay Times – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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National politics right now is extraordinarily polarized by party. And much of today’s political rhetoric dwells more on name-calling than on nuts-and-bolts policy differences.

But at its root, control of government is still about implementing policy. And, quaint as it may seem, we’re here to track the policy agenda of President Joe Biden with our Biden Promise Tracker. He is the third president whose campaign promises PolitiFact has tracked in this fashion.

Like his two most recent predecessors, Biden has put together a mixed record in implementing his policy agenda. This is not unexpected, since he has had to rely on thinner majorities in Congress during his first year than either Barack Obama and Donald Trump did.

That said, the Biden Promise Tracker does show some victories for the 46th president, along with a somewhat larger number of agenda items that have stalled. Meanwhile, almost half of his promises are in limbo, with some progress being made but nothing final yet.

For Biden, we chose 99 promises to evaluate, and we’ll continue rating them until he leaves the Oval Office.

Comparing Biden to Obama and Trump

Our rating system assesses campaign promises based on outcomes, not intentions. So, simply making an effort to pass something isn’t enough for a Promise Kept rating. Only full enactment of a promise qualifies for a Promise Kept, while partial enactment merits a Compromise rating. We applied the same standard to both Obama and Trump.

In the big picture, Biden has kept 16 of the 99 promises we tracked and achieved a compromise — basically, a partial achievement — on three more.

We rate 46 of his promises as In the Works and 24 as Stalled. (We also have a Promise Broken category, but this early in a president’s term we tend to place promises that haven’t been followed up on yet in the Stalled category instead.)

How does this compare to presidents Obama and Trump?

For Obama, we tracked 502 promises. During his first year in office, Obama earned a Promise Kept on about 18 percent of his promises, a Compromise on about 7 percent, either a Stalled or a Promise Broken on about 20 percent, and an In the Works on just over half.

In other words, Biden has done modestly worse than Obama in fully or partly keeping his promises, but a bit better than Obama in avoiding Stalled or Broken promises during the first 12 months in office.

Meanwhile, during Trump’s first year in office, when we tracked roughly the same number of promises as we are with Biden, he earned a Promise Kept on about 9 percent of his promises, a Compromise on about 6 percent, either a Stalled or a Promise Broken on 39 percent, and an In the Works on about 46 percent.

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So Biden has been somewhat more successful than Trump in keeping his promises, though not dramatically so. Biden has managed to keep modestly more promises than Trump did, and he saw fewer promises move to the Stalled or Broken categories.

“Biden has been above average in achievements during his first year, given the partisan division in Congress,” said John Frendreis, an emeritus political science professor at Loyola University Chicago. “Pundits and activists like to describe the current situation as Democratic control of both the legislative and executive branches, but this is really not true. The 50-50 split in the Senate only gives the Democrats ‘control’ in a limited set of circumstances.”

Particularly given his narrow margins in Congress, Biden overall can claim a “solid record” for a


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