The iconic plaque that President Harry Truman had on his desk in the Oval Office read, “The buck stops here,” and its words have come to embody the weighty responsibility of the office.
Yet, President Joseph Biden has often tried to avoid the heavy weight of history by shifting blame for poor decision-making onto his predecessor.
With Biden’s job approval rating remaining low, his administration is doubling down on the narrative that former President Trump is to blame for all of the country’s problems, from the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021 to the widely panned responses to the Chinese spy balloon and the toxic train derailment in Ohio.
The five cases below illustrate how current administration officials have tried to shift blame for the government’s woes back to the previous administration. The top five examples of the Biden administration’s penchant for passing the buck are as follows:
#1 Train Wreck was caused by Trump Era Policy
This week, Pete Buttigieg, the United States Secretary of Transportation, blamed Trump’s policies for the East Palestine, Ohio, train disaster. Derailment of several railway carriages carrying hazardous materials prompted authorities to order the evacuation of the city and the controlled burning of the chemicals.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has been under intense criticism due to potential damage to the environment and the safety of locals. The formerly bright political star has been darkened by a spate of infrastructural and travel fiascos, the latest of which is this occurrence.
Buttigieg appeared to place blame for the Ohio tragedy on the previous administration while attempting to explain his agency’s efforts to enhance rail safety via a Twitter thread this week.
Buttigieg stated they were making an unprecedented investment in rail safety through money in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Acts, work that increases this year and continues in the years to come, Buttigieg added. As of June, they had announced a total of $120 million to enhance rail safety.
The secretary then listed funded and planned DOT measures to improve rail safety and respond to hazardous events, but he did not specify what may have caused the current catastrophe.
However, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, admitted that they were constrained by law on some areas of rail regulation (such as removing the braking rule enacted by Congress in 2015) but that they were using the powers they had to keep people safe.
Neither Buttigieg nor the current inquiry has definitively linked the derailment to a regulatory change implemented in 2018 by the Trump administration. Buttigieg included the regulation change in an explanation; he tweeted that in the aftermath of the East Palestine disaster and its impact on hundreds of people, leading major news sites like Fox News to assume that the Transportation Secretary had tried to transfer blame to Trump. The 2015 law was signed by former Present Obama and implemented in the Trump Era.
#2 Chinese Spy Balloon
Earlier this month, Biden permitted the military to fire down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon only after it crossed the nation and floated out over the Atlantic Ocean. Trump and other Republicans scoffed at the lag and called for the government to shoot it down.
Biden’s defense department leaked that China balloons transited the continental United States at least three times during the Trump administration in response to public outcry over his handling of the balloon incident.
Gen. Glen VanHerck, chief of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), later confirmed that the military did not detect the previous balloons in real time, explaining why the Trump administration was unaware of the incident despite Trump and other high-ranking officials denying its existence.
According to VanHerck, there had been gaps. VanHerck stated that he was sorry to say that we were unable to identify such dangers. There is a knowledge vacuum in that area that has to be addressed.
To highlight the differences between the Trump and Biden administrations, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said this week that the Chinese monitoring program was operational throughout the last administration, but they did not detect it, as reported by The Independent. Kirby went on to state that “We detected it.”
Earlier this month, Biden wrongly stated that inflation was rising under the Trump administration. According to Biden, this was a long-term trend that carried over into his presidency.
The Washington Examiner reported that Biden had said he was not taking the blame for inflation because it was already here when he became president. He also said that the U.S. was losing jobs at an alarming rate, inflation was rising, and we were not manufacturing anything.
During Trump’s presidency, inflation was moderate and falling. Inflation was 1.8% in 2019, then 1.2% in Trump’s final year in office in 2020, 4.7% in 2021, and 8.0% in 2022. The rate hit a low of 1.36% in December 2020 and was steady at 1.4% in January 2021. Once Biden took office, the rate continued to climb throughout 2021, except for a brief period of stability in the summer. But by December 2021, it had risen to 7%, and it would reach a peak of 9.06% in June 2022.
When asked about the rise in consumer prices, Republicans have referred to the Biden administration’s massive spending programs like the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and the ironically called Inflation Reduction Act.
4. Border Crisis
Last month, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that Biden’s attempt to change U.S. immigration was a reaction to the confusion caused by the Trump administration’s immigration policy.
According to Fox News, she remarked in January that the president had “inherited a problem” due to the previous administration’s actions. She said that the president had inherited a mess. Jean-Pierre added that Republicans in Congress haven’t helped as they keep blocking immigration reform. Therefore, the president is taking this action to safeguard the border and will also address issues of irregular migration.
The Trump administration’s fiscal year 2020 was its final full year in office. Over that period, there were 458,088 interactions between Customs and Border Protection and unauthorized immigrants on the border with Mexico. This number jumped to an all-time high of 1,734,686 in the fiscal year 2021, which was dominated by the commencement of Biden’s presidency.
In the fiscal year 2022, the total of 2,378,944 exceeded even that. Up to this point in F.Y. 2023, 874,449 people have entered the United States illegally from Mexico, exceeding the 4 million people who have entered the country unlawfully through Mexico since Biden assumed office.
Under Biden, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has taken steps to dismantle the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (the “Remain in Mexico” policy) and the Title 42 immigration enforcement order, both of which have facilitated the rapid expulsion of migrants from the interior of the United States by border authorities. Several Republicans and Trump administration officials have argued that these measures further deter anybody considering unlawful entry into the country.
Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn predicted a “tsunami” of illegal immigration across the southern border if Title 42 was repealed.
5. The withdrawal from Afghanistan
When the Taliban had taken over all of Afghanistan in August 2021, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in September 2021 and blamed former President Trump for the catastrophic departure of U.S. forces.
He noted that they inherited a deadline, but they had not received a strategy from the previous administration. Nevertheless, former members of Trump’s administration have disputed Blinken’s account.
Former interim Defense Secretary Christopher Miller’s chief of staff, Kash Patel, said Blinken was mistaken. Patel made the response on the John Solomon Reports podcast immediately after Blinken’s comments.
“We didn’t give them a deadline,” he said. The Afghan government, the Taliban, and the United States held negotiations, and they could have changed the date if it had been clear that it wouldn’t work for the new administration.
As part of that strategy, U.S. citizens would be evacuated before military personnel and key military sites like Bagram Air Base were the last to be withdrawn. U.S. nationals and Afghan contractors who remained behind after the fall of the U.S.-allied government were subjected to a protracted siege of the Kabul airport and a hurriedly prepared evacuation by the Biden administration.