As our nation looks forward to a new year and to healing from the global pandemic, we also look forward to President Joe Biden’s first 100 days — to seeing what our new president has in store for us as he rolls up his sleeves and gets to work. He has a great deal to do if he is to restore the faith of the American people in our democracy and our government.
From his inauguration, President Biden will affect significant plans and policies as he steps into his role as commander-in-chief. And the still-raging global pandemic tops his agenda. CBS News reported on Jan. 14 that Biden proposes a nearly $2 trillion coronavirus economic relief plan that includes “$400 billion for arresting the spread of COVID-19 and increasing vaccine capabilities; over $1 trillion to assist families needing direct financial support; and $440 billion in emergency funds for cash-poor small businesses and communities.”
Biden’s “American Rescue” plan would contribute an additional $1,400 per person in stimulus checks, expand unemployment insurance and increase the child tax credit. The plan would increase coronavirus testing resources and, if his goal is reached, distribute 100 million vaccines in his first hundred days as president.
A pandemic policy plan was expected, but what other plans does the incoming president have in store?
President Donald Trump’s “Buy American” policy will likely remain in place. The policy pertains to government agencies buying medicine and medical supplies from U.S. companies. The new president may also retain policies curbing China’s technological ambitions, especially in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence. Defense spending is not likely to change, nor are there likely to be radical changes to policies that crack down on things like insider trading.
There will also likely be continuity in terms of foreign, military and war policy. The exceptions are that Biden plans to end the ban on transgender military personnel and the Muslim travel ban. He will also rebuild relationships with key allies and plans to re-enter the Paris Agreement, a program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. President Trump had pulled out of the agreement, and the U.S. was officially removed in November.
In education, Biden will extend student loan relief, crack down on for-profit colleges and advocate for historically Black colleges and universities to be tuition-free. For local communities, he’s increasing police reform with plans to institute a national police oversight commission within his first 100 days. His goal is to infuse $300 million into community policing measures and have the Justice Department investigate issues of police misconduct.
The greatest difference between the Trump and Biden administrations seems to be in regard to the direction of our nation’s approach to immigration. President Biden has said he will not take any of the U.S.-Mexico border wall down, but he will discontinue funding construction of the wall. Additionally, he plans to pass an executive order establishing a task force for reuniting children and parents separated at the border — and make the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program permanent on his first day in office. DACA was instituted in 2012 by President Obama, but President Trump’s administration was working to rescind the program.
Other changes we’ll see from Biden’s team are in the areas of finance and health care. The new administration plans to reverse Trump’s tax cuts and raise the corporate income tax rate to 28 percent, but Biden promises Americans who earn less than $400,000 will not pay higher taxes. No one likes to pay more taxes, but American Enterprise Institute analysis shows the tax increase could raise $2.8 trillion over the next 10 years — monies that could potentially reimburse funds spent on COVID-19 economic recovery. Of interest to homeowners, instead of privatizing the mega-mortgage entities of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Biden will use them to offer mortgages to more potential buyers.
Obamacare may not be expanding, but Trump’s regulatory changes — including those that allow some states to skirt Affordable Care Act coverage requirements — will likely be reversed. One of the most ambitious items on Biden’s list is the goal of holding a “global Summit for Democracy” to bring democratic leaders together to discuss ways to push back against corruption and to expand human rights. It is little wonder the rights of all Americans are on his mind.
Trump has just been impeached for the second time, something that has never happened in our nation’s 245-year history. The charge? Inciting an insurrection at our own capitol. It was painful to watch! As Wyoming’s Republican Rep. Liz Cheney noted, the insurrection caused injury, death and destruction. No matter your partisanship, the divisions in our country sadden us all. We need to heal, and find paths that return “United” to America. According to President Biden’s “build back better” transition website, his administration will prioritize the following core values:
diversity of ideology and background
talent to address society’s most complex challenges
integrity and the highest ethical standards to serve the American people and not special interests
transparency to garner trust at every stage
Biden and his team are hoping these principles, along with their desire to correct and heal our nation, will restore the American people’s faith in our government.
I hope so too.
Bill Freeman is the owner of FW Publishing, the publishing company that produces the Nashville Scene, Nfocus, the Nashville Post and Home Page Media Group in Williamson County.