‘This is a crisis presidency’: Ian Bremmer on the top risks for Biden administration

Akiko Fujita
·Anchor/Reporter
·4 min read

The riots that engulfed the Capitol on Wednesday thrust the federal government into crisis just 13 days before President-elect Joe Biden is scheduled to take the oath of office.

Now, Biden will have to lead the country accordingly.

Ian Bremmer, founder of the Eurasia Group and GZero Media, told Yahoo Finance Live that the perceived illegitimacy of his presidency, by staunch supporters of President Trump remains the most significant risk for Biden in his initial months in the White House.

“This is a crisis presidency from day one right through the first year, and he has to react effectively,” Bremmer said.

Congress affirmed Biden’s Electoral College win in a late night session, after Trump and Republican lawmakers spent months sewing doubt about the election results and peddling false claims about widespread fraud. The certification followed violent riots that began outside of the Capitol and ended with dozens storming the building during a joint session of Congress. Four people were killed amid the chaos.

While the formal transition of power may officially be underway, Bremmer says deep divisions within the country will continue to present challenges for Biden, even with Democratic control of Congress.

Reading, PA - January 6: CMA Mia Alicea uses a syringe to administer a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Mary Kargbo, the President and CEO of the Berks Community Health Center. At the Berks Community Health Center in Reading Wednesday afternoon January 6, 2021, where they were administering the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to staff and other healthcare workers. (Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)
Reading, PA - January 6: CMA Mia Alicea uses a syringe to administer a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Mary Kargbo, the President and CEO of the Berks Community Health Center. At the Berks Community Health Center in Reading Wednesday afternoon January 6, 2021, where they were administering the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to staff and other healthcare workers. (Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

“You're going to have a majority of Trump supporters, and indeed almost half of the country that actually believes the election has been stolen. You're going to have Trump out there [as a] lame duck and then not president anymore, but with billions of dollars available to him, as by far the most important voice in the Republican Party, saying, you’ve got to support me or we're going to primary you,” Bremmer said. “That is an incredibly dysfunctional driver at a time that the United States is facing this unprecedented crisis.”

The coronavirus pandemic remains the biggest health crisis facing Biden, with the U.S. crossing another grim milestone on Wednesday. The country hit new records for COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Nearly 4,000 deaths were reported nationally, according to several reports. The response to control the spread of the virus has been complicated by a slower than expected vaccine rollout. The federal government originally anticipated 20 million doses by the end of December. Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Chris Miller said that Operation Warp Speed is only nearing that number of shipments this week.

‘Economically unequal’

Bremmer said a prolonged pandemic not only threatens lives, but political stability and economic recovery, globally. While the U.S. labor market has recovered from the lows in the early days of the pandemic, the job market remains weak, with another 787,000 Americans filing for new unemployment claims in the week ended Jan. 2. That number remains well above the lows of the Great Recession.

The slow recovery is only expected to exacerbate income inequalities that existed well before the pandemic, Bremmer said. Wages for the richest 1% of Americans have soared 160% over the last four decades, while wages for the bottom 90% have shrunk, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute. Most white-collar jobs have shifted to work from home, while essential workers earning lower wages have taken on the biggest health risks, jobs that require face-to-face interaction.

“One of the biggest concerns is that the U.S. economy is going to rebound sharply this year, but a lot of Americans are not going to feel it, and their unemployment levels are going to be too high, and they're going to get evicted from their homes and all the rest,” Bremmer said. “The fact is that the United States is not only the most powerful country in the world. We're also by far the most economically unequal of the advanced industrial democracies.”

Akiko Fujita is an anchor and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AkikoFujita