The long-awaited US Presidential Elections were at the center of attention towards the end of last year. In a year filled with chaos and tragedies, people were hoping that the elections would provide some hope for the year ahead. After his four tumultuous years in office, Donald Trump lost the election to former Vice President, and now President, Joe Biden.
From a pandemic, a global recession and public outrage, the Americans were almost itching to vote again.
Many saw Joe Biden as the best choice for their country purely because he was not Donald Trump. For some, the vote cast for Biden wasn’t for him but for his second in command: Kamala Harris. Biden’s choice for his vice-president brought him heaps of approbation because not only was she a woman, but a woman of color.
On his campaign website he has a clear and detailed agenda. What’s noteworthy is that he has broken down his plan to cater to different groups like the Indian Americans, Arab Americans, Catholics and Muslim Americans.
But what is he actually planning to do?
Here are a few things we can expect from the Biden administration:
Jobs and Economic recovery plan:
The pandemic left millions of families under financial duress. In order to recover, Biden plans to provide state, local and tribal governments with direct aid to prevent essential workers like educators and firefighters from being laid off. He has even planned a comeback package for main street businesses and entrepreneurs as well as an extension of unemployment insurance to people out of work. What’s interesting is that he plans to reverse some of Donald Trump’s tax cuts for corporations to “make sure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share”, as said on his vision page.
Donald Trump, as promised, reduced US military postings overseas and managed to pull out of many wars that the US were entangled in. However, Biden has a more traditional take on America’s role in the world. He wants to repair relationships with allies and NATO especially.
When dealing with Iran, Biden said he would rejoin the deal that gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for scaling down its nuclear advancements. Going further into the Middle East, Biden plans to withdraw all support for the Saudi-led war taking place in Yemen.
Economic Racial Equity:
On his website, there’s a long list of what Biden plans to do to reduce racial inequity in the American economy such as: spur public-private investment through a New Small Business Opportunity Plan, ensure workers of color are compensated fairly and treated with dignity and strengthen the Federal Reserve’s focus on racial economic gaps. His plans include expansion in economically disadvantaged areas and small businesses (in particular, black-, Latino-, AAPI-, and Native American-owned businesses) by expanding access to loans and funding.
Obama advocated for lower cost healthcare and Biden like his former partner vows to oppose every effort to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. He wants to give Americans a variety of public healthcare options like 'Medicare'. Furthermore, he plans to increase tax credits to reduce the cost for health insurance for middle-class families.
Climate Change and Clean Energy:
Biden and his administration’s goal is to reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050. Biden plans to invest around $400B over the time period as a part of mobilization of public investment in clean energy and innovation. His website says that on his first day itself Biden will require public companies to disclose climate-related financial risks and greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and supply chains.
As Trump ends his term with a set of federal executions, progressives and democrats have been calling on Biden to end the death penalty. In the early 1990s, Biden was in favour of capital punishment however now he says he is against it and is willing to do something about it.
While his plans seem well thought out, it all comes down to how he and his administration carry out their promises. For policies and plans to be structured and implemented effectively, a President needs a strong, qualified cabinet. A cabinet that can support him and his extravagant plans for the United States.
However, many people have accused Biden of using ‘identity politics'. A cabinet consisting of people with diverse backgrounds rather than proper qualifications. For example, the Chicago Tribune said, “Barack Obama’s first energy secretary, Steven Chu, had a Nobel Prize in physics. Trump’s, Rick Perry, had a bachelor’s degree in animal science. Ben Carson, an African American neurosurgeon, was tapped to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development even though he had no expertise in housing, aside from living in it”
“The new cabinet looks like a multicultural dream team—and the realization of Biden’s bid to master identity politics. Rice and Gaspard are Black; Tai is Asian American; and Tanden is Indian American, as is Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. And Austin would be the first Black American to head the Pentagon”, Foreign Policy wrote in one of its articles.
Diversity was something that people were hoping to look forward to but the cabinet has just left progressives and democrats confused as to what the main vision of his term will be.
Biden, now having completed almost a month in office has made big changes including cancelling the Keystone Pipeline, re-entering the Paris Climate agreement and plans to re-enter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (talks with Iran).
What has the Administration done so far?
Cancel the Keystone Pipeline: The Keystone XL pipeline extension, proposed by energy infrastructure company TC Energy (formerly TransCanada) in 2008, was designed to transport the planet’s dirtiest fossil fuel to market. Its aim would be to transport 830,000 barrels of Alberta tar sands oil per day to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas.
Re-entering the Paris Climate agreement: The U.S. officially withdrew from the accord to limit climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions late last year, after President Donald Trump began the process in 2017. As one of his first acts in the oval office, Biden signed an order to re-join the Paris climate agreement.
Re-joining the JCPOA: Ever since the US withdrew from the JCPA, Iran has continued its uranium enrichment at an alarming rate. It also shrugged off other constraints on nuclear activities that the deal had outlined. The state department spokesman, Ned Price, said the US would accept the invitation of the EU high representative for discussions with Iran.
Signed 3 executive orders on immigration: The first executive order signed created a task force to re-unite more than 600 kids with their parents. The second EO signed was to create a comprehensive framework to address the causes of migration and manage migration throughout North and Central America. The third EO orders a full review of the immigration policies that the Trump Administration had set into place.
While Biden's first few weeks have seen huge changes in policies and projects, another challenge remains: vaccinating the entire country. How he approaches the current pandemic and its damage on the American economy will be something Americans will remember forever. Over the course of four years we will be able to tell whether Biden was America’s saving grace or just the marginally better man.
Written by Krittika Barve
Edited by Srijaa Chatterjee
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Cohen , Andrew. “Biden Can Reshape the Federal Death Penalty in America.” Brennan Center for Justice, 30 Dec. 2020, www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/biden-can-reshape-federal-death-penalty-america.
Chapman, Steve. “Column: What's Wrong with Biden's 'Identity Politics'?” Chicagotribune.com, Chicago Tribune, 18 Dec. 2020, www.chicagotribune.com/columns/steve-chapman/ct-column-biden-identity-politics-cabinet-chapman-20201218-dej7ufk5njf3zi4jzft5jfamtq-story.html.
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