Instigator / Pro
0
1539
rating
10
debates
60.0%
won
Topic

Joe Biden is doing a good job as president so far.

Status
Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Arguments points
0
0
Sources points
0
0
Spelling and grammar points
0
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Conduct points
0
0

After not so many votes...

It's a tie!
Parameters
More details
Publication date
Last update date
Category
Politics
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
15,000
Contender / Con
0
1592
rating
15
debates
70.0%
won
Description
~ 1,475 / 5,000

My position is that President Biden and his administration are, so far, doing more good than harm for the United States and the world at large. My opponent must argue that they are doing more harm than good. What policies or behaviors are to be considered "good" or "harmful" are up to the individual debaters to prove through argument. Bringing up Biden's past political career is allowed if relevant, as well as other presidencies, but this debate will focus on the Biden administration beginning in 2021. I am not arguing that the Biden administration is perfect - I will freely point out its flaws, I am only defending the proposition that the good outweighs and overshadows the bad. I fully expect that a lot of this debate will come down to different political viewpoints and opposing ideas of what counts as "good" or "bad". With this in mind, I will try to focus more on ways that his administration has made Americans' lives better, in ways that most people could broadly agree on, rather than getting sucked into the culture-war sand trap. This will not be a hard-and-fast rule though. I will respond with counter-arguments if I feel it's necessary and relevant, and if I feel a disagreement comes down to irreconcilable political differences, I will say so. The debate should be judged based on clarity of arguments, soundness in rationale and logic, and a lack of fallacies. With this in mind, I'm hoping for a good, civil debate in these polarized times of ours.

Round 1
Pro
I would like to thank my opponent for accepting, and I would like to get right into my opening argument. I will be arguing that, with the tools that President Biden has been given and the limitations that have been placed upon him, he has been doing a good job overall in his role. And my main contention, as stated in the description, is that Biden’s administration is doing more good than harm for the American people and the world. I will mostly talk about policies, and will divide my argument into 5 categories, not to be exhaustive, but for the sake of being a little organized.

1. COVID-19

COVID-19 was, and possibly still is, the most glaring issue facing the world in the past couple years. President Biden has been handling it deftly. He has continued the rollout of vaccines that began under Trump, resulting in over 200 million Americans getting fully vaccinated last year alone [1], saving countless lives. But unlike his predecessor, his messaging on COVID has been consistent with itself and with the scientific consensus. The obvious objection from those who take COVID seriously, such as these scientists interviewed by Nature [2], is that Biden is essentially taking the right approach, but isn’t acting swiftly enough or going far enough. Which is a fair objection, but it’s one that would be aimed at a politician who is doing a good, but imperfect, job. And with free at-home COVID tests now available for any American, vaccines and boosters being produced en masse, and the CDC no longer under constant verbal attack, I trust that the Biden administration will act in a sensible way should cases dramatically rise again.

2. Economy

It’s par for the course for a Democratic president to be accused of ruining the economy. The economy is subject to all kinds of forces beyond a president’s control, but the economy has lately been recovering from the shock of the pandemic, and Biden has helped it recover a lot more than the media talks about. He signed the American Rescue Plan into law early in his administration, investing $1.9 trillion into unemployment benefits, stimulus payments, emergency paid leave, child tax credits, small businesses, and much other funding for those who were financially impacted by the pandemic. When the ARP was passed, the unemployment rate was 6.0%, and has been dropping precipitously since then, reaching 3.6% last month [3]. Now, it’s also true that the US’s economy is suffering from high inflation right now, and some people blame Biden for this, particularly his passing of the ARP. While there is no conclusive agreement among economists, many believe that the ARP has helped to drive up inflation. While the current inflation rate has other causes too, like supply chain disruptions and rising demand, I would argue that helping the poorest and most vulnerable Americans in the midst of an economic crisis is worth a little inflation.

3. Infrastructure

Near the beginning of his presidency, Biden unveiled a legislative agenda which was more ambitious than anything since the days of FDR: The American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, which would invest trillions into all kinds of sorely needed infrastructure. These plans have bumped into the realities of politics. But a pared-down version of the American Jobs Plan, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed in November of last year, thanks to Biden’s tireless efforts at negotiating with both parties in Congress. Trump could never get an infrastructure bill passed, though it was something he often attempted and boasted about, but Biden successfully passed the largest investment in infrastructure since the 1950s. The IIJA invests $550 billion over the next 10 years into roads and bridges, railways, electric vehicles and charging stations, broadband access, the power grid, hurricane and wildfire protection, and many other projects [4] that Americans will reap the benefits of in the coming years. This legislation alone is enough to speak for Biden’s success as president.

4. Climate

Biden has been an advocate for taking action on climate change. Some would say that he values rhetoric above real action, but he has done more than any president in history about the issue. While Biden’s climate agenda has been stalled by two uncooperative senators, it’s possible that a bill focusing on climate will be negotiated, though the war in Ukraine has lately complicated this possibility. Because of the war, gas prices have been rising and impacting the prices of all kinds of goods for Americans, so Biden was forced to take action. He has allowed millions of barrels of oil to be released from reserves, and plans to expand oil drilling on public lands. I will accept that this doesn’t look good for his climate record, but it can’t be denied that this is a tough choice, and he chose to make life easier for the average American by doing what needs to be done to combat rising gas prices. This emergency situation still doesn’t erase the climate action Biden has already taken: rejoining the Paris Agreement, tens of billions in climate spending in the IIJA, revoking the Keystone Pipeline permit, and many executive orders aimed at enforcing climate policy. [5]

5. Foreign Policy

Polls on Biden’s leadership suggest that the residents of NATO countries much prefer US leadership under Biden than Trump, and the numbers match or surpass those under Obama. [6] Biden helped to rekindle trust in US leadership by keeping close ties with allies and standing up to rivals such as China, signing the AUKUS pact and signed a bill into law banning goods made in Uighur labor camps. And since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Biden has acted as a true leader of NATO’s response, offering aid to Ukraine and putting plenty of economic pressure on Putin to halt his invasion, but stopping short of direct war with Russia, which would likely be a bad idea. He acted about as well in this crisis as an American president can reasonably be expected to act. There is a big blemish on his foreign policy record, the pullout from Afghanistan. I will not defend the execution or messaging behind this massive mess. I will simply make two points: the deal behind the withdrawal was made under his predecessor, so Biden cannot be blamed entirely for it, and the war in Afghanistan was a huge drain on American resources and the resurgence of the Taliban was likely inevitable, so pulling out was the right choice rather than allowing the war to drag on for eternity, even if the execution could have been far, far better.

6. Civil Rights

For my final point, Biden has been an ally on civil rights for marginalized groups. His legislation has invested billions into tribal and indigenous communities, reconnecting black and brown communities isolated by past infrastructure, and hate crime protections particularly for Asian Americans. And while many progressives accuse him of not being enough of an LGBT ally, he’s the most pro-LGBT president in US history, and it’s not close. He has signed executive orders prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people in healthcare and housing, ended the ban on trans people in the military, and confirmed the first openly LGBT Cabinet members [7].

I argue that in all these areas, among others, President Biden’s actions have done more good than harm overall. There are always mistakes and room for improvement, sure, but overall, his administration has done well in improving the lives of ordinary Americans with the resources and limitations that it has. And Biden has done it while maintaining the professionalism and dignity that, until very recently, was to be expected from all presidents. Con can take any route she wishes in arguing that Biden’s presidency so far has done more harm than good.

Con
1. Introduction
I thank my opponent for opening this debate and will begin by stating my position and clarifying my burden.

1.1 Resolution
Keep in mind, this resolution is not “is Biden doing the best job he could.” It is irrelevant if any evil he brings about or good he fails to bring about is justifiable given the circumstances. For example: if I do what seems to be a good job, but it later comes out that I did a bad job, even if I did not know I was doing a bad job or could not have done a good job, that is irrelevant to the question of if I did a good job; I still did a bad job even if doing a bad job is justifiable given the circumstances.

To do a good job in this context means more than just bringing about good outcomes, but preventing bad outcomes. Similarly, to have done a bad job is to have brought about a bad outcome or prevent a good outcome. What this means is that to have prevented a good outcome is equal to bringing about a bad outcome the same way to bring about a good outcome is equal to having prevented a bad outcome. 

Better said, to 'do more harm than good' is not just to directly harm people, but also to fail to bring about benefit. A murder witness who stays silent is not directly harming anyone, but is failing to bring about the benefit of justice and is committing an evil through inaction. This doesn't necessarily mean that a murder witness whose testimony could have been more convincing is causing harm, as any evil they may have caused through an imperfect testimony is easily cancelled out by the good they have caused by testifying at all.

It’s unreasonable to say that to have failed to bring about anything but the greatest outcome possible means Biden did a bad job. However, since not bringing about a good outcome has the same negative effect as bringing about a bad outcome, even if Biden brings about a good outcome, if it can be said that Biden failed to bring about a good outcome moreso than he succeeded to bring a good outcome (relative to the best outcome), it can be said he did a bad job.

To simplify the above, let’s use some numbers. A positive number means a good outcome and a negative number means a bad outcome. Let’s say the best possible outcome is 10 and doing nothing at all is 0.

If Biden leads to a good outcome equal to 4 and a bad outcome equal to 5 (which is equal to -5 because bad outcomes are negative values), the sum of the outcomes equals -1, meaning Biden did a bad job because he did more bad than good. 

If Biden leads to a good outcome equal to 4, that’s 4 better than doing nothing at all (which is 0), but it’s 6 less than the best possible outcome. This means that the good he failed to bring about is greater than the good he brought about, meaning he did a bad job since failing to bring about a good is equal to bringing about a bad. Said differently: since failing to bring about a good outcome is equal to bringing about a bad outcome and bad outcomes are negative values, the 6 is actually -6. Added together, the sum of the outcomes equals -2, and since the sum is negative (which signifies a bad outcome), Biden did a bad job.

That is the lens this resolution must be viewed in: to do harm is not just to directly cause harm, but harm can also be brought by having any good brought about be cancelled by any greater good they failed to bring about, as more good was prevented than was brought about, meaning it is a net negative/evil.

To reiterate: to have brought about a bad outcome/net negative signifies a bad job regardless of if doing so is justifiable given the knowledge Biden had at the time because nowhere do the resolution or rules say otherwise. This is all within reason, of course. We must look at this not from the perspective of the greatest good conceivable, but the greatest good possible (within reason but irrespective of the knowledge possessed at the time). We must look at this debate from what actions we know led to good or bad outcomes based on what we know now regardless on if they seemed to lead to good outcomes at the time.


1.2 BoP
Based on what I proved in 1.1, my burden is to prove that Biden is not doing more good than harm (as that's the benchmark for doing a good job as defined by the rules) and to prove the contrary at least moreso than pro can prove the resolution.


2. Rebuttals
In this speech, I will refute the first 3 arguments presented by pro to establish the groundwork for my position while staying in the character count. In my second speech, I will refute the last 3 arguments presented by pro (both from their first and second speech). If pro adds on more points rather than building up his current argument, I will likely ignore them, since more than 6 arguments constitutes shotgunning in my opinion.

2.1 COVID-19
"He has continued the rollout of vaccines that began under Trump... But unlike his predecessor, his messaging on COVID has been consistent with itself and with the scientific consensus."
Regarding vaccinations, Biden has done little more than coast on inertial momentum. My opponent fails to say how he did anything that improved vaccination roll-outs, vaccine availability, or education. It can't be said that he did a good job by doing nothing at all other than allowing things to continue as they were. On the contrary, America has one of the poorest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the developed world ranking 59th. Under his administration, isolation periods were shortened from 10 days to 5 days, a move that Dr. Fauci himself admitted was solely to get people back to working. Prioritizing the economy over human life is self-evidently evil. More than that, to prioritize the interests of Wall Street above the ability for people to stay alive is among the most morally decrepit things I can think of.

2.2 Economy
"When the ARP was passed, the unemployment rate was 6.0%, and has been dropping precipitously since then... the US’s economy is suffering from high inflation right now... While there is no conclusive agreement among economists, many believe that the ARP has helped to drive up inflation While the current inflation rate has other causes too, like supply chain disruptions and rising demand, I would argue that helping the poorest and most vulnerable Americans in the midst of an economic crisis is worth a little inflation."
Pro seems to acquiesce that the ARP has increased inflation, but would contend that inflation is an acceptable cost of helping the poorest and most vulnerable. Where my opponent fails is in acknowledging that inflation affects the poorest citizens the most. The rich do not suffer under inflation because the spending power they lose due to inflation doesn't mean they can't afford rent because, with how much wealth they have, they still have more than enough to live a lavish life even if they lose 10% of their spending power due to inflation. This can't be said for the poor, as it will now cost the average household $5200 more than last year to live the same life. Poor families do not have $5200 to spare, and while infrastructure spending may bring long-term wealth and one-time checks/unemployment benefits may help the lowest common denominator, they nowhere near equate for the short-term damage that inflation has done. Forgive me, but I don't think a person being 5% wealthier in 20 years because of investment in infrastructure at all justifies that same person going homeless tomorrow because of the price of inflation.

Moreover, in terms of unemployment dropping, again we see Biden doing nothing more than coasting off of inertial momentum. Biden was not the one who prevented the economic free fall that most experts predicted in March 2020, Trump was. Unemployment went down because the economy was kept afloat by Trump and the number of job listings exceed the number of people seeking work. If anything, all Biden did was push people back into work in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic by not providing regular stimulus checks, sacrificing their health for the sake of the economy, which means that this is actually an example of Biden doing a bad job by bringing about an evil.


2.3 Infrastructure
The infrastructure and jobs act sets aside $550 billion to be spent over the course of the next 10 years. While this bill may be a large investment, what my opponent fails to mention is that America spends hundreds of billions every year on infrastructure and development as is[1, 2, & 3]. $550 billion is the amount the federal government invests in transportation alone every ~3 years.

Moreover, my opponent never establishes that this is where the money should go. Shouldn't it go to curbing inflation? To developing affordable housing? To education? We need to deal with the short-term cost of living crisis before long-term projects. With all the places this money could have gone, this a zero-sum game. This is not a $550 billion investment that appears out of nowhere, it is $550 billion that could have gone to improving ICU bed capacity that has routinely been overwhelmed during the Biden administration, for example. If this bill allocating $550 billion to infrastructure leads to a better outcome than if it was invested into other things is unclear, meaning it can not be said to be an evil because we do not know if it's preventing a greater good, but for the same reason we cannot say it is a good either.

In summation:
-Biden has not expanded America's COVID-19 response and the vast majority of what COVID-19 response has occurred under his administration is simply due to keeping the momentum that Trump began, meaning Biden did not do much of anything at all. Under his administration, several things have worsened (vaccination rates and isolation times) and this is costing human lives.

-Biden did not do anything to curb unemployment, unemployment was inevitably going to go down as restrictions ended because there are more job listings than people who want to work. If anything, by forcing people back to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has committed an evil.

-Even if it could be said Biden's efforts in infrastructure are the best long-term investment, all the time, money, and effort invested into infrastructure is money that is not spent dealing with much more urgent matters (cost of living crisis, inflation, etc...). All good that it can be said stems from said investment therefore pales in comparison to the short-term matters that money should have been spent addressing.

-Even if we could say Biden's infrastructure investments didn't take money away from more urgent things, there is no way to know if spending money on infrastructure is the best way to spend the money, and therefore it is impossible to know if investing in infrastructure did or did not take away a potentially greater good if that money was spent elsewhere and it cannot be concluded that Biden has done a good job based on that evidence.

-Biden's infrastructure investments are incredibly small in scope.


3. Constructive Arguments
In my rebuttals, I provided good reason to believe that Biden has done a bad job handling the COVID-19 pandemic, has done a bad job handling the economy, and why his infrastructure investments are far from evidence of doing a good job if they are substantial at all. There are several other examples of Biden's failures that I will briefly mention and, character-count permitting, expand upon in my later speeches.

3.1 Broken Promises
Biden made many promises during his campaign:
    • “We’re going to stay until we get [all Americans] out [of Afghanistan].”
    • “We will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit [out of Afghanistan].  We’ll do it — we’ll do it responsibly, deliberately, and safely.”
    • “I don’t think [vaccine mandates] should be mandatory.”
    • etc... (source)
    If Biden's actions are justifiable or correct is something I will not comment on, but what is undeniable is that deliberately and flagrantly breaking promises undermines American trust in the political system which is already astonishingly low. Misinformation will be one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, and lying in major ways makes it even more challenging for the average person to trust authority and official sources of information. This is shown in his abhorrent approval rating, showing that he is destroying the average American's confidence in their government while simultaneously making it easier for republicans to put another Neo-fascist in the white house.

    3.2 Slow Response
    Biden and his administration's slow response is the factor that appears in every major hiccup in their governance. With gas prices, they released the strategic reserve after it had already reached $6 a gallon. With Ukraine, they only gave significant support after Russia had already crossed the border (and continue to refuse to provide deprecated fighters). With Afghanistan, Biden failed to coordinate a response and stabilize the situation before the government collapsed and LGBTQ Afghani's were left to die. With both Delta and Omicron, Biden failed to react before the variants began spiralling out of control.

    It can't even be said that Biden refusing to enforce quarantine protected the economy, because by failing to lock down early, Biden assured high absenteeism, Biden assured a tidal wave of front-line workers quitting, Biden assured thousands of people would die, Biden assured the virus would have the chance to mutate again by allowing it to proliferate across the nation and the entire world by extension. The blood of thousands of Afghani's and COVID-19 patients is on his hands just as much as the wave of long-COVID and epidemic of misinformation because he failed to react fast enough if he reacted at all.

    I'm v busy so I am rushing this and I'm just gonna end it here. Vote con.



    Round 2
    Pro
    Thank you for your response, Con. To start, I have to say that I disagree with parts of my opponent’s judgment of the resolution and think that it has little to do with the resolution itself. The debate is on whether or not the presidency of Joe Biden has done more good than harm overall. I was quite clear in the description that this would require a utilitarian calculus of the good and harm he has done, and arguing which one outweighs and overshadows the other. Con’s idea that if Biden scores a 4 on the theoretical scale (0 being doing nothing, 5 being moderately good, and 10 being the perfect, best possible presidency ever), then that means he’s doing a bad job, makes no sense to me. Why would we measure Biden against some unattainable, utopian standard? Con is going off the assumption that 1) a perfect presidency is attainable enough that we ought to use it as a standard of measurement and 2) what matters isn’t producing good, realistic outcomes, but coming as close to this perfect ideal as possible. Which has nothing to do with the debate’s resolution.

    Going off of Con’s mathematical formula, I’m going to proceed with something simpler in mind. If Biden ends up with a positive number, his presidency produced more good than bad. If Biden ends up with a negative number, his presidency produced more bad than good. That’s less convoluted, and is closer to the debate resolution, than the idea that Biden’s presidency was bad unless the good he did not only cancels out all the bad, but is at least halfway on the scale to perfection. I’m not interested in factoring in some kind of Platonic ideal of The Perfect President, because no world leader is going to match up to that. The real world is messy, outcomes are imperfect, agendas get sidetracked, unexpected events pop up constantly. And my opponent’s idea that producing a small amount of good is time wasted that could have been spent on a greater good strikes me as dwelling in the realm of the theoretical and utopian. If Biden scored a 1 on Con’s scale, that means he left America a little better than he found it, and that’s exactly what I’m arguing in favor of. I will proceed with that in mind. Con can argue this point further if she wishes, but in the end, it’s not up to her or me. It’s up to the voters to choose whose methodology is closer to the debate’s resolution.

    Now, on to writing rebuttals for Con’s rebuttals:

    1. COVID-19

    You could argue that Biden coasted on initial momentum achieved in Operation Warp Speed when it came to the vaccine rollout. But does that mean it’s no longer good? Because it was already in progress? We’re talking about the good versus harm that was done by his administration, not necessarily big changes. I’m not really sure what Con’s point here is. it’s interesting that Con gives no credit or agency to the Biden administration for the vaccine rollout, but blames the Biden administration for other things that are beyond their control: the US’s comparatively low vaccination rate, inflation, the Delta and Omicron waves. I think it’s unfair to say that Biden “allowed things to continue as they were”, given what a mess the CDC was under Trump, but even if Biden had done so, and this had a good outcome, that would be completely in my favor according to the original resolution.

    The decision to lower isolation periods from 10 to 5 days was controversial, sure. But to call it evil is dramatic, to say the least. It was based on science, specifically findings which showed that the majority of COVID transmission occurs within the first 2-3 days after the onset of symptoms. [1] In the article Con linked, Dr. Fauci called the decision “prudent”, “based on science”, and also rightly pointed out that we need people to get to work in order for society to function. Wall Street has nothing to do with it - in fact, missing 5 days of work rather than 10 would be helpful to lower-income Americans who need all the help they can get. The CDC made this decision because they thought that the risk of transmission after 5 days was low enough, provided one wears a mask for the remaining 5 days. Whether or not this ended up being a net positive, I don’t know, but it seems like a triviality to me. And blaming the Biden administration for this without giving them credit for over 100 million fully vaccinated Americans strikes me as a double standard.

    2. Economy

    My opponent is correct that inflation falls the hardest on low-income people. And I’ll admit that the question of inflation is probably the strongest case one could make against the Biden administration right now: the main question of how much of it is the administration’s fault. Economists agree that the inflation crisis has many possible causes: the supply chain, rising demand, production costs, the Fed lowering interest rates, sanctions on Russia, and more. [2] However, among the possible contributing factors is the American Rescue Plan, because spending $1.9 trillion in a single year is indeed a lot.

    But my opponent, in trying to frame Biden as hurting the poor with inflation and not helping them, has left out what the ARP actually did. She mentioned stimulus checks and unemployment benefits in passing, and that was a part of it. What she left out was emergency paid leave for over 100 million Americans, a 15% increase in food stamp benefits, an expanded child tax credit, education funding to safely reopen schools, funding for housing assistance, among others. [3] Many of these were temporary measures, but this was in a much more uncertain economic situation than we’re in right now, with much higher unemployment and thus, many Americans in a dire financial situation.

    “a person being 5% wealthier in 20 years because of investment in infrastructure at all justifies that same person going homeless tomorrow because of the price of inflation.”

    What about a person going homeless tomorrow because of the devastating impact of the pandemic? That’s exactly what the ARP was meant to combat. It gave concrete, sorely-needed aid to those who were suffering. I’m not sure what Con’s talking about with the first part of that sentence, she may be thinking about the IIJA. The ARP was for immediate economic help for Americans who needed it, not long-term infrastructure. Speaking of which…

    3. Infrastructure

    It’s a little odd that my opponent neglects to mention any of the specifics when bringing up legislation that Biden has passed. It seems she is attempting to downplay and minimize these achievements, though I don’t think she’s successful in doing so. Con argues that $550 billion isn’t even that much, but actually, the passing of this bill almost doubles the spending on infrastructure in the next 10 years. [4] The total amount of spending in the IIJA is $1.2 trillion, because it adds $550 billion in new spending on top of $650 billion in routine scheduled spending. And given that it’s the largest investment in infrastructure since the days of Eisenhower, it’s not nearly as trivial as Con makes it out to be.

    My opponent also argues that there’s better things this money could have been spent on, like curbing inflation or affordable housing. This is where the reality of politics comes in. In order to pass this bill, Biden had to work across the aisle with the other party, and many elements that the Republicans didn’t like were removed. The original proposal would have invested hundreds of billions into housing, schools, home- and community-based care, research and manufacturing, and clean energy tax credits. Negotiations were going on behind the scenes for ages, since around March of 2021, and the bill in its final form passed 8 months later, with 19 Republicans in the Senate crossing the aisle to vote for it. Given the Senate's constant squabbling and general incompetence, this was incredible.

    Now, to rebut, first I will say that the IIJA has widespread support among Americans [5], and more than 80% of Americans favor increasing infrastructure spending [6]. So, even if Con doesn’t think infrastructure is all that important, most people do. Second, Con is doing a bit of an “appeal to shoulda-woulda-coulda”. I don’t know if that’s a real logical fallacy, but that’s the name I’m using since I don’t know the real one. Sure, maybe the IIJA doesn’t allocate $550 billion in precisely the optimal way that will most benefit the human race. But going back to our disagreement about the resolution, allocating it in a good way is more than enough. It’s not perfect, but it’s what we could get with Republican support. And a heck of a lot better than nothing at all, which is what we would have gotten if Biden had refused to compromise. And as I’ve already pointed out, it does plenty of good work: fixing roads and public transit that working people use every day, electric vehicle funding that benefits the environment, expanding internet and electricity access, and bolstering protections against wildfires, floods, and hurricanes. The positive outcomes here are self-evident. If Con would rather all this money go to extra ICU beds, cool. But this debate isn’t about whether Joe Biden did what Nyxified wants him to do. It’s about whether Joe Biden’s presidency has been good or bad on balance.

    Again, I disagree with Con’s tactic of comparing Biden’s legislation to the Best Possible Legislation Ever and judging it by that metric, rather than simply judging it as it is and whether it’s good or bad. I will also point out that Con generally seems to criticize Biden for not spending enough or doing enough, such as saying that he should be giving regular stimulus checks. But then wouldn’t that drive up inflation, which Con also criticizes Biden for causing? Con’s argument puts Biden into a position where he can’t win. If he doesn’t spend as much, he’s a heartless monster who’s leaving people to die. If he spends more, he’s a heartless monster who tramples on the lower class with inflation.

    4. Con’s Constructive Arguments

    I will now respond to the constructive arguments that Con made. Con accused Biden of breaking his promises. Breaking campaign promises is almost to be expected of any president - politicians set ambitious agendas to get voters excited, and these run into the roadblocks of government. But what Con mentions aren’t really campaign promises - they’re just statements Biden made that his actions eventually contradicted. Now, I already admitted that the withdrawal from Afghanistan was bad and sure, these comments of his don’t match up with what happened. But these aren’t really broken promises as much as blunders that make him look silly in hindsight. And I can’t imagine them having any significant effect at all - conservatives have decided to hate everything about Joe Biden no matter what he does, because he’s The Enemy, and they already won’t trust a word that comes out of his mouth.

    The accusation that his administration has been slow to act, I think I can take more seriously. But I think this is an example of hindsight bias. Of course they didn’t give significant support to Ukraine until after Russia had crossed the border, because for a while it was extremely unclear if Putin was actually going to go through with invading or not. And it only took a couple weeks for the Delta variant to spiral out of control, same for Omicron, and Biden was relatively quick to act on both. We can get into this point further if Con wishes, but I'm not convinced that Biden has done a whole lot of harm, let alone more harm than good, by responding to a crisis as it becomes a crisis, rather than somehow anticipating ahead of time what's going to become a crisis.

    But on that note, a running theme throughout this debate is that Con seems to expect an almost superhuman level of competence and foresight out of Biden. I don’t think he’s the greatest president ever, there are plenty of different, better decisions he could have made over the course of his administration, and there things he’s done that I disagree with outright. But I will be as clear and consistent as I can in defending the assertion that Biden, and the government under Biden, have done more good than harm. Con holds Biden up to standards that are unrealistically high, critiquing him when something bad happens for not preventing it, and critiquing him when he does something good because it’s not good enough. I assert that what matters in this debate is not what Biden could have or should have done in an ideal world, but what he did do.

    Sources:

    Con
    Hey, I apologize, but I'm gonna have to forfeit this round. Midterms have left me fairly drained of energy.

    Should be good to go for the next round.
    Round 3
    Pro
    That's fine. And best of luck on your midterms.
    Con
    1. Intro
    Thanks, Phenenas. I appreciate you giving up a round to preserve fairness, since you didn't have to do that. I also did quite well on my midterms!


    2. Defence
    My rebuttals/defence of the economy/infrastructure will continue in my final speech for the sake of character count.

    2.1 Resolution
    "Why would we measure Biden against some unattainable standard? Con is going off the assumption that a perfect presidency is attainable enough that we ought to use it as a standard of measurement and what matters isn’t producing good, realistic outcomes, but coming as close to this perfect ideal as possible. Which has nothing to do with the debate’s resolution."
    If you got a 40% on your report card, 0% being nothing, 100% being the best possible, you did bad. You did 40% more than had you done nothing, but that's outweighed by the 60% you failed to get even though you can't score negative percent. Meaning you do bad not by doing harm (negative percent), but failing to do good (above 50%).

    I was only using the outcomes brought about as a result of doing nothing (0/10) and doing the best possible job (10/10) as benchmarks to measure performance.

    The reason I am applying this reasoning is because doing a bad job directly influences the well-being of Americans. To repeat, if you witness a murder and avoid calling the police, that's evil by inaction; it is evil by failing to bring about a good. Therefore, to do a bad job is to do more harm than good. This is an example pro hasn't clashed with.

    If Biden gets a grade of 40% regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the 60% he failed to achieve represents the deaths of tens of thousands of people. We can't expect 100% all of the time, but by not even getting 50%, his choices are a harm not by doing harm, but by failing to do good.

    What this means is the resolution cannot be viewed in the lens of direct harms, but rather in the sense of net harms. If Biden does measurably worse than what we can reasonably expect of a president (5/10), he is doing harm by not doing what's necessary to keep people alive even if he is doing more good than if he had done nothing at all.

    As I mentioned in my previous speech, to do harm, even if said harm is within reason based on the knowledge available at the time, it's still harm.

    "If Biden scored a 1/10, he left America better than he found it"
    Imagine a scenario where someone is on fire while and you are holding a fire extinguisher with full knowledge and ability to use it. You choose not to use the extinguisher and instead call an ambulance. You did more good than if you did nothing at all, but you've obviously done a tremendous harm by failing to act.

    This metaphor is applicable because failing to bring about a good during Biden's presidency often results in death or great harm. As another example, if Biden could choose to save 10,000 lives or save 1,000 lives and make $1,000,000, if he chooses the latter, he may have done more good than if he had done nothing, but he killed 9,000 people through his choices. This isn't a complete hypothetical either, since we've seen similar situations with placating businesses over saving lives.

    2.2 COVID-19

    "You could argue that Biden coasted on initial momentum achieved in Operation Warp Speed when it came to the vaccine rollout. But does that mean it’s no longer good?"
    I gave some examples where doing nothing leads to harm, such as a witness of a murder not calling the police and letting the killer walk free. i.e. Action is good, inaction is bad. In the case of Biden's vaccine rollout, this is why his inaction does not constitute a good:

    To witness a murder and do nothing is making the choice to allow the killer to kill again and is making the choice to not bring about justice. It's a situation where the choice to do nothing measurably causes harm.

    If America was doing nothing, inaction by Biden would constitute a harm because it's reasonable and possible for America to do much more to vaccinate its population and save lives; to choose to do nothing is to fail to bring about a reasonable good by a measurable amount. In this example, just as above, it is morally necessary to act and to fail to do so causes measurable harm.

    If we accept vaccine rollouts under biden are mostly the result of the intertial momentum of Trump, Biden did not do much of anything. There are situations where it's necessary to act--I think my examples prove that undeniably--meaning that there are situations where inaction constitutes harm. However, my opponent has failed to give any reason to believe there are situations where inaction constitutes good. To not push somebody into oncoming traffic might be better than the alternative, but I don't think anyone would consider choosing not to push someone into traffic is a good thing worthy of commendation.

    My opponent agrees that Biden has not done very much to expand rollouts and has given no reason to believe that, by doing nothing, Biden is doing a good thing?  Yes, vaccinations are a good thing, but if we cannot attribute those vaccinations to Biden's actions, we can't say he did a good thing.

    "[Con] blames the Biden administration for other things that are beyond their control: the US’s comparatively low vaccination rate, inflation, the Delta and Omicron waves."
    How are these things out of Biden's control? As I said above, there are examples where inaction is evil, and inaction in the Delta/Omicron waves are prime examples. To say inflation is out of Biden's hands is self-evidently false, as there are things he could do (ex: interest rate hikes). If he should is another conversation, but it's one pro isn't engaging in.

    "The decision to lower isolation periods from 10 to 5 days was controversial... was based on science... findings which showed that the majority of COVID transmission occurs within the first 2-3 days after the onset of symptoms... Dr. Fauci called the decision “prudent”, “based on science...""
    Fauci also said:

    “I think that was a very prudent and good choice... Namely, getting people back in half the time that they would have been out so they can get back to the workplace doing things that are important to keep society running smoothly.” -Dr. Fauci, awazent.com
    If it was based off science, why is the figurehead for America's pandemic response and chief medical advisor to the president naming getting people back to work as the primary motivation? Dr. Fauci also said:

    "...if you are asymptomatic and you are infected we want to get people back to jobs — particularly those with essential jobs to keep our society running smoothly.” -Dr. Fauci, awazent.com
    A clear admission that infectiousness has nothing to do with this. Asymptomatic COVID-19 is still transmissible. If this were based solely on science, Fauci wouldn't need to emphasize keeping the economy afloat. Sending people to die for the sake of the economy is self-evidently evil.

    "Wall Street has nothing to do with it - in fact, missing 5 days of work rather than 10 would be helpful to lower-income Americans who need all the help they can get."
    If Wall Street had nothing to do with it, why did the decision to lower isolation times come <7 days after the Delta CEO publicly asked for lower isolation times? If the economy had nothing to do with it, why is Fauci emphasizing 'getting people back to work'? We can say that evidence that Omicron's transmission window is shorter is a factor in the decision, but that's clearly not the entire story.

    Lower-income people need all the help they can get, and that's why poor American's ability to afford rent shouldn't be based on if they will be sent to be infected or infect others with a lethal illness. I see no reason we can't subsidize wages for those in quarantine. By failing to protect people by putting them in greater harm shows Biden doing more harm than good.

    2.3 Climate
    Climate Action Tracker(CAT), an organization of independent analysis regarding climate change produced by two research organizations since 2009, had the following to say:
    "The CAT rates the combination of the US 2030 climate targets, policies, and climate finance as “Insufficient”. The “Insufficient” rating indicates that the totality of the US policies and proposals need substantial improvements to be consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit and are not consistent with any interpretation of a fair-share contribution... The US is also not meeting its fair-share contributions to climate change...

    We rate the United States’ international public climate finance contributions as “Critically insufficient”...

    If all countries were to follow the US approach, warming would reach up to 3°C." -CAT
    A step in the right direction, sure, but nonetheless a failure on his administration's part to do what must be done to steer away from the oncoming climate catastrophe. Just like how we can say a witness to a murder doing anything other than calling the police is an evil, doing anything other than rejoining the Paris agreement and committing to any sort of net-zero target is an evil because it's egregiously negligent to do so. We can't say Biden's doing a good job by pointing to him doing the bare minimum. His inability to convince uncooperative senators is the result of his own incompetence.

    If this argument brings this debate in the favour of pro in any measurable way, it is clearly brought firmly back into con's side of the house by the fact Biden willingly continues to provide over $20 billion in fossil fuel subsidies annually. In comparison, the IIJA gave a one-time investment of $15 billion to electric vehicles. Over the course of his presidency, Biden's budgets and investments will have spent more money lining the pockets of fossil fuel executives than to combating climate change.

    2.4 Foreign Policy
    "Biden helped to rekindle trust in US leadership by keeping close ties with allies and standing up to rivals such as China, signing the AUKUS pact and signed a bill into law banning goods made in Uighur labor camps. And since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Biden has acted as a true leader of NATO’s response, offering aid to Ukraine and putting plenty of economic pressure on Putin to halt his invasion"
    My opponent gives no reasoning to prove that AUKUS was a good thing. Any good it brought about is more than mitigated because AUKUS increased tensions and further isolated China from the western world, meaning that it becomes significantly harder to resolve disputes through diplomatic mediation. Any 'rekindling' caused by AUKUS is more than mitigated by the fact it significantly harmed relations with France by ending a submarine contract with Australia worth 56 billion euros without notice. French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called AUKUS "a stab in the back."

    "[Regarding] Afghanistan, I won't defend the execution or messaging behind [it]. I will simply make two points: the deal behind the withdrawal was made under his predecessor, so Biden cannot be blamed entirely for it, and the war in Afghanistan was a huge drain on American resources and the resurgence of the Taliban was likely inevitable, so pulling out was the right choice... even if the execution could have been far, far better."
    My opponent says that, even if Biden coasted off of inertial momentum his predecessor caused regarding vaccine rollouts, it still shows Biden did a good job. They simultaneously say that, even if Biden just continued the deal his predecessor made, it doesn't show that Biden did a bad job. Which is it? You cannot simultaneously credit him with things his predecessor caused and he did nothing to improve or change while also not blaming him for the things his predecessor caused that he did nothing to avoid.

    Pulling out was the right choice, sure, but he did such a HORRIBLE job that vastly outweighs any good that can be attributed to it.

    2.5 Civil Rights
    In 2021, more than 280 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in 33 state legislatures across America. Under his presidency, we are witnessing the greatest anti-LGBTQ+ crusade in America of the past decade.

    To affirm the rights of LGBTQ+ people as being no different from that of their hetereosexual counterparts and cisgender counterparts of the same gender identity is the bare minimum. To do any less would be an obvious evil, and thereby it cannot be said he did a good by simply not doing an evil by allowing Trump-era discrimination to continue.

    My opponent gives to reason to suspect Biden is 'the most pro-LGBTQ+ president in history'.

    2.6 Con Constructive

    "Breaking campaign promises is almost to be expected of any president...But these aren’t really broken promises as much as blunders that make him look silly in hindsight. And I can’t imagine them having any significant effect at all"
    Just because everyone does it in no way mitigates how bad it is. The source I gave lists multiple blunders as well as broken promises:
    • No vaccine mandates
    • No additional taxes for Americans with <$400,000 in income
    • No economic shutdown (I believe that economic shutdown is necessary, but breaking his promise by doing so still serves my point)
    • No pulling out of Afghanistan until all Americans are out
    These aren't just blunders. They're promises and assurances that were broken leading to the negative effects I mentioned in my previous speech.

    The significant effect is not only Americans further losing trust in the political system and furthering misinformation. distrust of government, and Republican's ability to put another fascist in the white house, but also people dying. If pro doesn't think those are significant effects, I don't know what to say.

    "They didn’t support Ukraine until after Russiacrossed the border because it was extremely unclear if Putin was going invade."
    The invasion was repeatedly predicted as early as Dec. 2021. Putin made demands/threats towards NATO/Ukraine, supplies specifically for war and not training were sent to the border (ex: blood bags), etc... To say it was 'extremely unclear' is the opposite of the truth. Biden didn't even act when it was correctly predicted that Russia would invade in a few days and Putin had made the decision to go through with it. This is not hindsight bias; Biden had more than enough info to make better choices. Moreover, even if he didn't know, his actions still led to more harm than good even if that harm is justifiable.

    "A running theme throughout this debate is that Con expects a superhuman level of competence and foresight out of Biden."
    As I said, I expect 5/10 to be considered neither good or harmful. 50% on your report card is not a superhuman level of competence. Even if getting <50% is justifiable given the circumstances, you still got <50% and got a bad grade. That's not expecting superhuman foresight, that's grading performance irrespective of circumstance, which we must do because we are asking if Biden did good or bad, not if the bad things he did are justifiable given the circumstances/information at the time.

    Vote con.
    Round 4
    Pro
    Thank you, Con. In this final round, I will give my final rebuttals and a closing statement. But first, a word about the resolution.

    Con tried to further elucidate her definition of goodness. I hold to my position that this idea of goodness is overly narrow and not generally accepted. Con can adhere to this definition if she wishes, since I stated in the resolution that what is to be considered “good” or “bad” is up to the debaters to prove subjectively. But I am by no means obligated to go along with this definition.

    Con used the analogy of witnessing a murder and failing to call the police, thus committing an evil through inaction. But this analogy doesn’t work because there’s a massive difference in capability. The act of calling the police is something that can be performed instantly, and can be reasonably expected of almost any responsible adult. But a president’s powers are heavily limited, as any Civics student knows. There are all kinds of checks, balances, and bureaucratic red tape that disallow a president from simply doing whatever he or she wants. The murder witness analogy would work if Biden had a magic wand that, if he waved it, would magically get rid of all poverty. If Biden was in possession of this wand, and simply chose not to wave it, I would wholeheartedly agree with Con that he would be committing an evil through inaction. But many of these “evils” Con is talking about are simply beyond a president’s capability to instantly solve.

    But that’s the lesser problem - my greater problem is Con’s attempts to inject these ideas of “the best possible good” into the conversation. The debate topic is not “Joe Biden is doing the best possible job he can” or “Joe Biden’s policies are better than any alternative”. It is “Joe Biden is doing a good job as president so far”. Con lumps together the concept of “good” with “the best possible good”, and only has a couple analogies to defend this notion. Let me explain with a more accurate analogy to demonstrate Con’s logic. Let’s say that I have $200, and I want to spend this money by buying a fancy necklace for my girlfriend. By Con’s logic, if I spend this money this way, I am committing an act of evil, because rather than spending this money on a luxury for one person, I could be giving it to the Food for Orphans and Puppy Dogs Foundation. By Con’s logic, anyone who does a lesser good is actively committing evil, because they’re wasting time and resources that could have gone towards a greater good. In fact, any time spent not doing the best possible goodness is committing an evil. That has been Con’s approach to all the claims I have made about good works done by the Biden administration in this debate. I think that most people have a broader and more general definition of good than this one, and that Con’s conflating this overly strict definition of goodness with evil by inaction is fallacious.

    I’m not sure if Con genuinely thinks this is fair and acceptable as a general definition of goodness. As it turns out, it can conveniently be used to condemn any political figure you want as evil. As for me, I have been talking about nothing but concrete, real, good outcomes achieved under the Biden administration. Speculation about what could have or should have been is irrelevant to the debate topic. Con can continue to defend her definition of good if she wishes. But again, it’s up to the voters to decide whose arguments are closer to the resolution.

    1. COVID-19

    “However, my opponent has failed to give any reason to believe there are situations where inaction constitutes good.”

    There are multiple problems with this challenge. For one, the example we’re talking about is not one of inaction. It’s action that started under the previous administration and exponentially grew under Biden. The vaccine rollout took a ton of planning, work, and taxpayer dollars. To call it “inaction” is completely incorrect. Why, because it began under the previous administration, it no longer counts? If that’s the case, then we can’t blame the Biden administration for pulling out of Afghanistan, because that was the culmination of agreements and processes that began under Trump. Yet my opponent is all too willing to blame Biden for that.

    In this case, it is not Joe Biden himself who I give the most credit, but the Biden administration, i.e. the federal government under Biden, which I clarified I am also talking about in the description. The Biden administration was in charge of the vaccine rollout, and I point to it as one of the good things the administration has done. Whether it began under the Trump administration is irrelevant, and to say “Biden didn’t do much of anything” is grossly inaccurate, let alone saying this about his administration. There is no rhyme or reason to what Con deems to be “action” or “inaction” here. The point stands.

    As for the rest, I think this comes down to political differences over how harmful shutting down the economy would be at this stage of the pandemic. I need to conserve space, so I will politely skip over it.

    2. Climate

    Con admits that Biden's climate policies are a step in the right direction, and that’s all I’m arguing for. I don’t have much else to say except to highlight this comment by Con: “His inability to convince uncooperative senators is the result of his own incompetence”. The lack of charity just struck me. Con has never made really clear what her position is if Biden does everything he can to accomplish a certain goal, and fails. Instead, she seems to pivot to blaming him for anything that goes wrong. I would rather focus on the real outcomes than speculate on counterfactuals anyway, but Con doesn’t seem to share the same view.

    “We can't say Biden's doing a good job by pointing to him doing the bare minimum.”

    According to whom? You point to rejoining the Paris Agreement as the “bare minimum”, but Biden’s predecessor was more than happy to fall short of this bare minimum. And even if this was the bare minimum by some unrealistic metric, this debate is about the good outcomes and bad outcomes that the Biden administration created. It’s not about “good outcomes that were drastic policy changes” or “outcomes that exceed my definition of the bare minimum”. I’m not sure what’s so confusing about this.

    To the other point about fossil fuel subsidies, I partially addressed this. President Biden ran on a platform of ending fossil fuel subsidies, as the source you linked points out. But lately, with the war in Ukraine, Biden has stepped away from the more ambitious elements of his climate agenda. Like it or not, America is still a heavily oil-dependent economy, and Biden made the choices that had to be made in order to combat inflation and keep prices from skyrocketing.

    3. Foreign Policy

    I pointed to AUKUS as a good thing because it was formed to foster cooperation against China’s rising aggression. The Chinese government has already isolated itself from the Western world by persecuting a religious minority within its borders, and because of its territorial ambitions over peaceful countries like Taiwan. Unless you believe that China’s intentions are totally benign and harmless, the AUKUS alliance is a very good idea. France was upset primarily at Australia for canceling their deal without notice, there has been little noticeable long-term harm to French-American relations, and Macron has been happy to work with the US and Biden when it comes to the invasion of Ukraine.

    Con misinterprets my comment on Afghanistan. First of all, while Con hasn’t really been doing this, I have been focusing on talking about outcomes. Real, tangible policies and events that occurred under the Biden administration. And so, I give the Biden administration credit for producing the good outcome of the vaccine rollout, and I criticize them for producing the bad outcome of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. I only pointed out that the initial agreement was made under Trump in order to suggest that Biden’s options were limited, going back to the question of capability.  I never argued that this cancels out all the bad that was done. Surely the Biden administration was capable of better planning and execution than what we got. The withdrawal was bad, and the blame for this lays squarely at the feet of the Biden administration. I am willing to criticize the Biden administration for this debacle, yet my opponent refuses to give them even an ounce of credit for the vaccine rollout.

    4. Civil Rights

    In 2021, more than 280 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in 33 state legislatures across America. Under his presidency, we are witnessing the greatest anti-LGBTQ+ crusade in America of the past decade.”

    The key phrase here is “state legislatures”. By the Biden administration, I mean the federal government. What state governments are doing is irrelevant to this debate, except in how the Biden administration has responded. The federal government can’t simply override these laws, not without going through the Supreme Court. In addition to the pro-LGBT policies Biden has done, which I have mentioned and Con has chosen to ignore, Biden has clearly and consistently voiced his support for LGBT Americans and his opposition to the discriminatory state laws, and he called for Congress to pass the Equality Act.

    Again, Con asserts that supporting LGBTQ+ people is the “bare minimum”. Again, I’m not sure how something being “the bare minimum” by some lopsided standard makes it no longer good; Con’s explanations have been unsatisfactory. And again, I will point out that Trump, and even Obama in his first term, were more than willing to fall below this bare minimum. What Con is trying to portray as a banality is actually a radical departure from the norms of American politics.

    5. Con Constructive

    “These aren't just blunders. They're promises and assurances that were broken leading to the negative effects I mentioned in my previous speech.”

    I’m a bit confused what point Con is trying to make. Con criticizes Biden for saying in the past that he thinks vaccines should not be mandatory, and then later putting vaccine mandates in place. But then Con acts as if Biden’s actions led to negative outcomes, and “people dying”. As far as I can tell, the only item on Con’s list that led to “people dying” was the Afghanistan withdrawal. Does Con think that vaccine mandates somehow killed people, or was the comment about dying a blanket statement that really only applied to one item on the list? Not to mention that there is a difference between making a promise and having views that change over time. Maybe Biden genuinely thought that vaccine mandates were unnecessary, but then, as the status of the pandemic and research about the virus changed, he changed his mind. Is he not allowed to do that? Either way, Con automatically assumes that the point which will best serve her purposes is true.

    “The invasion was repeatedly predicted as early as Dec. 2021.”

    Again, hindsight bias. Sure, plenty of people were predicting that it would happen. Plenty of people were also predicting that it wouldn’t happen, particularly during the period in early February when Putin acted as if he was open to diplomacy and appeared to be scaling back, soon before launching the invasion. Hundreds of news articles appeared from educated people speculating that Putin was trying to avoid war after all. Con fails to appreciate how genuinely unpredictable the future actually is, and this insistence that Biden should have done everything ahead of time, rather than retaliating to Russia’s aggression as it escalated, is beyond unreasonable.

    “50% on your report card is not a superhuman level of competence.”

    Con tries to conflate her scale with the average grading scale, even though she knows that the criteria she laid out were completely different. A 0 on Con’s scale means that the amount of good and bad done by the Biden administration were completely equal. A 10 means, and I can’t stress this enough, the best presidency possible. For the purposes of this debate, the bad outweighing the good is equivalent to a failing grade. A 5 is halfway between an inconsequential presidency and an absolutely perfect one, hardly equivalent to a 50% grade on a test. Con’s willful ignorance of her own good-bad scale only muddles her arguments.

    6. Conclusion

    Throughout this debate, it has felt like Con and I were talking on different planes. Con began by laying out an overly restrictive definition of “good”, which equates doing a lesser good instead of a greater good with doing evil. And Con has kept to this overly narrow definition seemingly to the end. I have pointed out, and will again, that this is not a general definition, but a peculiar, overly specific one which I am by no means obligated to agree to, as it has nothing to do with the resolution. Con has consistently made arguments by holding Biden to impossibly high standards, and dismissing any good that was done by the administration for a smattering of inconsistent reasons: because they were just building on the momentum of the last administration, because it wasn’t enough, because it was the bare minimum. When I argued in favor of the Biden administration, I always listed examples to support my claims. Con has ignored many of these examples, or dismissed them for the reasons mentioned earlier, and has made much of her arguments using analogies that don’t fit, or bringing up irrelevant points such as state legislation.

    Con has chosen to frame the debate in a way that departs substantially from the resolution. I have attempted to steer it back to the topic at hand, which is whether the Biden administration has done more good or harm. Con’s whole argument rests on the claim that “doing harm” is equivalent to not doing good, or doing a lesser good. It’s up to the voters to decide if this is fair as a general definition of goodness. I will point out that any political leader, and probably any human being, would be considered evil if held up to the standard of goodness that Con has used in this debate. And when it comes to the question of capability, Con has taken a very simplistic, inconsistent approach. Con is more than willing to assign agency and willingness to Biden when anything bad happens under him, but has all kinds of excuses for why it “doesn’t count” when he directly does a good act.

    Forgive me if I sound frustrated, but a lack of communication is frustrating to me. It bothered me that Con and I’s definitions and arguments seemed to go right over one another’s heads. It’s been a while since I’ve used this site, so I don’t know what tactics I need to look out for here. Perhaps I should have laid out a more rigorous definition of good and bad from the beginning so we didn’t get bogged down in semantics. Either way, thank you for the debate, Con. And all I ask of the voters is that they vote fairly for the person whose arguments they thought were clearer, whose logic was sounder, and who resorted to less fallacies.

    Con
    1. Intro
    I will focus mostly on general remarks as opposed to direct rebuttals as is typical of a final speech. I don't have space to cover all 6 of pro's arguments, but I've tried to rebuke them all equally throughout this debate.

    2. Rebuttals
    2.1 Resolution
    "The act of calling the police is something that can be performed instantly, and can be reasonably expected of almost any responsible adult. But a president’s powers are heavily limited... many of these “evils” Con is talking about are simply beyond a president’s capability to instantly solve."
    • This example shows that there are situations where inaction is evil. Pro seems to agree.
    • If there are certain things that Biden, in his position, must act upon, but he doesn't, he has committed an evil.
    • If a surgeon's incompetence harms a patient, they have committed an evil because they chose to do a job they aren't capable of and have caused harm that likely wouldn't have occurred had a more qualified person been in the position.
    • Following the same principle, if Biden can be demonstrated to have been very incompetent relative to what is reasonable and possible, he has therefore committed an evil.
    "I have $200, and I want to spend this money by buying a fancy necklace for my girlfriend. By Con’s logic, if I spend this money this way, I am committing an act of evil, because rather than spending this money on a luxury for one person, I could be giving it to the Food for Orphans and Puppy Dogs Foundation."
    • The critical distinction is that you are not expected to do that.
    • If you were the founder of Food for Orphans and you bought a necklace for your girlfriend with donations, that would be an evil because you have accepted the responsibilities of the position.
    • Similarly, Biden has accepted the responsibilities of the presidency and has willingly put himself in a position where failing to bring about good or bringing about evil represents people dying.
    • As said before, I am not expecting perfection, but if his incompetence can be proven, he has done more harm than good (as in the example given for the previous quote).
    • Maybe the example pro gave does logically constitute an evil. If I am wrong to claim that Biden's burdens to do good and avoid bad are a function of the responsibilities of the presidency, this is the next logical step that still supports con's case.

      It's impossible to expect everyone to do good all of the time and it's okay to be selfish from time to time, and that's okay! Nonetheless, we are talking about objectively if more harm has been done than good, not if said harm is justifiable.
    "By Con’s logic, anyone who does a lesser good is actively committing evil, because they’re wasting time and resources that could have gone towards a greater good"
    • On a report card, 0% represents doing literally nothing and 100% represents the best possible mark.

      My opponent repeatedly says that comparing things to the best possible outcome is unreasonable, but we routinely do exactly this in real life (ex: 0%-100%, scales of 1 to 10, etc...). To say that doing so is 'expecting a superhuman level of competence' is akin to saying that grading from 0%-100% is expecting a superhuman level of competence from students, which is self-evidently false.

    • If you get a 90% on your report card, you still did a good job in spite of the better mark you could have possibly gotten.
    • If you get a 40% on your report card, you still did a bad job in spite of the fact you did 40% better than if you had done literally nothing.
    • Better said: by getting a 40%, you have done 40% worth of work and studying. Said work and studying is a good thing and is better than if you did nothing at all and got 0%. Even so, 40% is still bad.
    • Therefore, if you can't even get a 50% on your report card or score a 5/10 on a performance review, for all the reasons I gave in my prior speeches, it's safe to say that you've done a bad job.
    • Pro doesn't present much of a contention to this fact, rather just insinuates that the principle is self-evidently ridiculous by saying what it implies. This does not stand up to the reasoning I have provided.
    "Con tries to conflate her scale with the average grading scale, even though she knows that the criteria she laid out were completely different. A [5] on Con’s scale means that the amount of good and bad done by the Biden administration were completely equal. A 10 means, and I can’t stress this enough, the best presidency possible."
    And a 100% represents the best grade possible. A 10/10 represents the best rating possible. These are the exact same thing, these aren't different criteria. I assign 100% to be the best grade on a report card you can get, which it objectively is, and I assign 10/10 to be the best that a president can do.

    I genuinely don't see what pro's issue with this is. Do they think that assigning 100% to the best presidency possible is unreasonable because 100% on a report card doesn't represent the best possible grade? The simple problem with that is that 100% on a report card does represent the best possible grade.


    2.2 COVID-19
    "...the example we’re talking about is not one of inaction. It’s action that started under the previous administration and exponentially grew under Biden."
    • Who says it grew exponentially under Biden? Vaccination rates would imply that it is actually declining under Biden.
    • Pro has gone from saying in their 2nd speech: "who cares if the Biden administration did not do anything, that doesn't mean it's not a good thing." To saying in their 3rd speech: "the Biden administration did a lot."
    • Pro continues to defend the good Biden did regarding COVID-19, but even if their arguments stand, in their 3rd speech and most of their 2nd speech, pro has completely failed to clash with my points regarding Biden's handling of COVID-19 that more than mitigate the good pro is arguing for. My points are:
    1. The Biden administration decreased isolation times to protect the economy and thereby sent people to die.
    2. We had good reason to believe Omicron was more infectious than Delta from the moment it was sequenced and yet Biden chose to do nothing until it was too late.
    3. This is not an argument over if it is better to keep the economy open or not, it's pointing out that human life is more valuable than money. Moreover, any gain from keeping the economy open in the short term is dwarfed by the long-term consequences (ex: high absenteeism, long-COVID, lost productivity, etc...).
    "If that’s the case, then we can’t blame the Biden administration for pulling out of Afghanistan, because that was the culmination of agreements and processes that began under Trump."
    • Pro doesn't give a single source throughout any of their speeches to say that it's the result of Trump's actions. Regardless, Biden still had to be the one to give the go-ahead when the time came.
    • I pointed out pro's hypocrisy in my previous speech whereby pro attempts to take credit for things that began during the Trump administration (see COVID-19 rebuttals of pro's 2nd speech) and also attempts to downplay things that allegedly 'began under Trump' as being not his fault (see foreign policy of pro's 1st speech).
    • Biden had to choose to evacuate. He didn't have to make any decision about a vaccine rollout that was already happening. That's why we can pin one to him (Afghanistan) and not the other (vaccine rollouts), because one is the result of his choices, the other is the result of passively allowing something to continue.

    2.3 Climate
    "President Biden ran on a platform of ending fossil fuel subsidies, as the source you linked points out. But lately, with the war in Ukraine, Biden has stepped away from the more ambitious elements of his climate agenda."
    Biden has been president since early 2020. He had at least a year and a half before intel predicted Russia might invade, and he still did nothing in that time. You can't use the war in Ukraine, something that has been going on for 2 months, to excuse his inaction for over 2 years.

    We can't say doing the bare minimum means Biden has done a good, any pro asks "says whom?" Well, I consider not pushing people into traffic to be the bare minimum of existing in a society, and yet I don't consider abstaining from that to be a good thing; to meet the bare minimum is to not do the bad job/evil that would've be done if you failed to meet it.

    In fact, there is a substantial argument to be made that this is less than the bare minimum:
    1. USA climate finance is critically insufficient
    2. USA emissions targets are insufficient
    3. If everyone followed the US approach, the world would warm 3°C.
    4. (source)

    2.4 Economy & Infrastructure
    My opponent concedes that the ARP is a significant cause of inflation

    "What about a person going homeless tomorrow because of the devastating impact of the pandemic? That’s exactly what the ARP was meant to combat. It gave concrete, sorely-needed aid to those who were suffering."
    • A one time, $1400 check is completely mitigated by the fact it will now cost $5200 more to live the same life for the average US family.
    • This is the ONLY immediate part of the ARP. Everything else is investment and discounts that will take time to accrue to equal this $5200 burden on US families. My opponent would seem to agree that it's important we prevent people from going homeless in the short-term, but the ARP, as a factor in this $5200 burden and as something that takes $1.9 trillion away from combating inflation or short-term, ongoing disasters like ICU capacity is doing the exact opposite: neglecting short-term response for long-term benefit that will make people homeless years before it enriches them.
    "...the passing of this bill almost doubles the spending on infrastructure in the next 10 years. The total amount of spending in the IIJA is $1.2 trillion, because it adds $550 billion in new spending on top of $650 billion in routine scheduled spending."
    • That's not how spending works. If you give $100 to your friend in a jar every month, I can't add $1 to the jar and claim that I just gave your friend $101.
    • The U.S. government spends $181 billion on the transportation sector per year. This is an objective fact. This isn't including the hundreds of billions spent on sectors like energy, agriculture, development, science, etc... in total, the IIJA adds the equivalent of about 2 years of the budgets of the sectors I mentioned. That's very far from anything substantial[1, 2, & 3].
    • As I said before, it is significantly more important that we invest in keeping people from going homeless today than it is that we invest in enriching people by 5% in a decade's time. This act takes money away from that endeavour. American infrastructure is not 'crumbling', it has a budget of hundreds of billions a year.

    3. Defence
    3.1 Broken Promises
    "...as the status of the pandemic and research about the virus changed, he changed his mind. Is he not allowed to do that?"
    Pro says they don't understand my argument, so allow me to reiterate what I said in my first speech:

    "...what is undeniable is... breaking promises undermines American trust in the political system which is already astonishingly low. Misinformation will be one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, and lying in major ways makes it even more challenging for the average person to trust authority and official sources of information. This is shown in his abhorrent approval rating, showing that he is destroying the average American's confidence in their government while simultaneously making it easier for republicans to put another Neo-fascist in the white house."
    I'm criticizing Biden for the choices that made people die, yes, but I can as well criticize him for choices that may seem wise at the time, but nonetheless still have consequences because of the fact he is going back on his word.

    Moreover, vaccine mandates are a band-aid response that only further push anti-vaxxers into lunacy because you're feeding their delusions by literally forcing people to be vaccinated or lose their job. Vaccine mandates aren't helping anyone in the short-term and isn't fixing vaccine hesitancy because it is fundamentally trying to circumvent dealing with the problems that cause it: lack of education and fear.


    3.2 Slow Response
    It is irrelevant how educated these people are. They do not have access to the intel that the US military does and therefore their predictions are completely useless relative to the military's predictions because they're predicting with less information.

    The US intelligence community said time and time again that Russia was planning to invade, that Putin had made the decision to invade, and, just before the invasion, correctly predicted that Russia would invade in a few days. This is not hindsight bias. This was not 'unpredictable'. This was a situation where we had certainty. There is no world where hundreds of thousands of troops being put next to the border can be confused as anything other than hostile. There is no world where Russia brought blood bags to the front for 'training'.


    4. Conclusion
    While I present a non-intuitive interpretation of the resolution, I believe I have given more than good enough reason to think that it is the more accurate resolution. Good and harm are relative and they happen irrespective of the circumstances that led to them. To fail to bring about a lot of good is equivalent to some amount of evil. To do evil is still to do evil regardless of if doing so is justified based on the information and ability possessed at the time.

    All of the good things Biden has done are token actions that meet the bare minimum. I cannot credit him for doing a 'good job' when he is doing the bare minimum for the same reason I don't credit somebody with not pushing me off a cliff: to do anything less than that minimum is to do evil and to do that minimum is not necessarily good. It's just what's expected.

    All of the arguments pro has presented are easily outweighed by the harms and evils brought about by Biden's actions through his own incompetence that I have proven extensively. It is for all these reasons I can say with complete confidence that Biden has done more harm than good, even if he is better than his predecessor.