President Biden and the Democrats have had an abysmal year. Gas prices rose to their highest level in history. Food prices are skyrocketing. Clothing for back-to-school this year far exceeded the cost of similar items last year. Overall inflation is the highest it has been in 40 years.
The runaway inflation has forced the Fed to increase interest rates, making mortgages less affordable, which in turn causes a slowdown in the real estate market. Just to be clear, by “slow down,” I mean bringing new home sales to a screeching halt. No demand for homes means construction jobs vanish, bank business grows slower and the economic cycle continues to spiral downward.
When you ask Americans what their top issue of concern is, virtually every poll shows the economy and inflation at the top of the list. That may explain why Mr. Biden has polled most of the summer at record low approval ratings. A bad economy usually equals bad polls. Such an unpopular president can drag down his party during congressional elections, and many pundits have predicted a red wave this November, with Republicans taking a huge majority in the House and possibly also taking back the Senate.
Unless they don’t.
Mr. Biden has been so unpopular that even a once-fawning liberal media began to question his White House work this summer. One reputable pollster found 76% of all Americans, including Democrats, Republicans and independents, believe Mr. Biden is cognitively challenged. Some left-leaning media outlets were openly critical of 46. Once upon a time, that would just be another day in the news, but in the current partisan world of media reporting, it was downright shocking.
Then the tide began to turn. Team Biden sweet-talked West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, and after saying no for more than a year, Mr. Manchin acquiesced and contributed the deciding vote to pass a budget-busting bill promising to relieve inflation. The bill does no such thing, but it gave Mr. Biden a long sought-after victory and bingo, the media fell right back into the role of cheerleader.
This week the president announced his plan for getting rid of outstanding college loans. It involves pixie dust, a magic wand and an excellent PR agent. People that borrowed money to finance their education are suddenly going to be free and clear of the money they promised to pay back. The reality is that student loans don’t disappear, the taxpayer is paying their loans for them. The plumber, the policeman, the carpenter and the auto mechanic will all now be paying off the money that educated doctors and lawyers.
Crazy? Not according to the mainstream media. This is another Biden victory! He is on a roll. Free money!
What the Biden administration has queued up next is the most alarming of all. In an effort to show how effective they are on the world stage, Mr. Biden is going to announce a new nuclear agreement with Iran. This will be hailed by Democrats and much of the press corp as a brilliant victory. The fact that the agreement will be announced 30 to 60 days before the Congressional elections will be dismissed as mere coincidence.
What will be in the deal? Who cares? The headlines will read “Biden secures Iranian nuclear agreement,” and the average American won’t read any further. Whether the agreement is good or bad for America, Mr. Biden will be celebrated, get a bump in polls and potentially save seats for the Democrats in Congress in November. What harm is a compromise of national security as long as a political party can benefit?
No Iran nuclear agreement should happen, and here is why. Iran is a human rights violator. Last week alone, it is reported to have executed 21 prisoners. Such executions are a weekly occurrence there. Also last week, author Salman Rushdie was savagely attacked with a knife, an attempt to fulfill the fatwa declared a generation ago by the leadership of Iran. When the attack occurred, on U.S. soil I might add, Iran applauded.
If those aren’t enough, in recent weeks, the Islamic Republic of Iran has tried to engage in assassination attempts against former Trump administration officials like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo. One would think the current administration, regardless of party affiliation, would be appalled by such a bold and brutal approach. Instead, they are working to reward Iran.
The United States and a handful of European countries have been negotiating with Iran to revive the 2015 JCPOA. Ironically Russia has been assigned the lead role in several aspects of negotiations, in effect, on our behalf. Is Russia negotiating for the U.S.? What could possibly go wrong? As elections draw near, however, American officials have continually sweetened the pot in hopes of getting an election season foreign policy agreement.
We’re told that sanctions would be lifted and Iranian crude oil sales would again be allowed. This is estimated to generate $4 billion for Iran in the first 120 days alone. There are an additional $7 billion in frozen assets that would be released immediately. It has been alleged that Mr. Biden’s representatives have promised U.S. domestic laws like the Patriot Act and the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act would not impact the nuclear agreement’s implementation. There might be a constitutional issue or two there, but don’t let that pesky Constitution slow down the effort to placate Iran.
While apparently there is no written agreement from Iran on this next part, Mr. Biden is counting on Iran releasing a number of U.S. prisoners in return for the west’s release of billions of dollars. That sounds suspicious like paying a ransom, which is not only something America used to vow never to do, but also encourages rogue nations to take more American hostages in the future.
Iran continues to enrich its uranium stockpile to a weapons-grade level and support terrorist fighters against other sovereign Middle East nations.
In prior agreements with the West and/or with the United Nations, Iran has repeatedly failed to uphold its end of the bargain. This past week was the 20th anniversary of the discovery of the then-clandestine nuclear sites in Natanz and Arak, an integral part of the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program. It lied to the U.N. then. It has continued to lie to the West since. Why on earth would Mr. Biden be so naive as to think they are going to be straightforward and honorable with any agreement moving forward?
The JCPOA negotiated by the Obama White House was the first time in history that America decided it was okay with a nuclear-capable Iran. Prior to that, the policy had always been rigid: Iran must remain nuclear-free. The agreement was not a treaty. It was never ratified by Congress. It was merely an agreement with former President Barack Obama. No one was surprised when former President Donald Trump revoked the agreement.
Recognizing the same could happen if a Republican wins the White House in 2024, Biden administration officials have guaranteed that companies working in Tehran until the end of Mr. Biden’s presidency will remain exempted from American sanctions for two and a half years after the U.S. withdraws. Again, constitutionally messy. One president can’t bind the next. Does such a policy mean that Iran could bomb the state of Kansas and the U.S. would be powerless to impose sanctions for two and a half years? Absurd foreign policy.
The president of the United States’ foreign policy job is to assure America’s safety and security. That should be the absolute top priority in any negotiation. The Biden administration, however, is willing to compromise safety and security in exchange for a short-term media victory at election time.
If Mr. Biden is serious about putting together an agreement with Iran, he must secure one that can pass muster with the U.S. Congress and get them to ratify it. He won’t. Instead, he will cobble together a deal during election season, giving away whatever is necessary to allow him to trumpet that he has an agreement.
It is shameful. Some would argue it borders on treason. Much of the media, however, will celebrate whatever comes forward in the next few weeks as a huge foreign policy victory.
• Tim Constantine is a columnist with The Washington Times.