Biden's First 100 Days
By Kathleen Zapata '24
All eyes are on President Joe Biden as he assumes the position of America’s 46th president, in his first hours, signing in a heap of executive orders set to undo the wreckage that the previous administration had instituted. The president inherits a ravaged nation torn by political scandals, a virulent pandemic, and a devastated economy. In the incoming three months, the new president must learn how to mitigate this unparalleled crisis.
The president heads into the White House with an ambitious agenda. Many speculate about his ability to execute them all within a short period. Here is a breakdown of what Mr. Biden has in plan for five paramount crises:
(President Biden in his office. Photo: The Boston Globe)
The administration will adhere to a seven-point plan to overtake COVID: ensure everyone has access to free testing, secure PPE (personal protective equipment) for frontline workers, provide a definitive evidence-based plan for communities on how to navigate through the pandemic, guarantee equal distribution of vaccines nationwide, protect high-risk and the elderly, and regain the public’s trust. Through this seven-point plan, one of their immediate goals is to have elementary and middle schools open by May.
During his presidential transition, President Biden has been firm on his promises. Listening to science and setting aside politics, Mr. Biden assembled a team of advisors composed of scientists and experts in charge of guiding all decisions regarding safety, led by the board’s three co-chairs, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Yale researcher and physician; Dr. David Kessler, former FDA Commissioner under the Bush and Clinton administrations; and Vivek Murthy, former U.S. Surgeon General under the Obama administration.
On his first day, President Biden rejoined the World Health Organization (WHO), promising to rectify the contentious relationship the previous administration had entrenched. He requested that Dr. Anthony Fauci retain his post as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, keeping him as a close advisor. The Biden campaign executed a 100-day mask challenge to encourage mask-wearing around the country, and Mr. Biden signed an executive order mandating masks in federal buildings.
Vaccine Distribution Plan
The Biden administration aimed to hasten the distribution of the vaccines from its previous pace. He proposed a plan that would spend $25 billion dollars in vaccine manufacturing and distribution ensuring that the public gets them free of cost. The White House announced that they will ensure the equal dispersion of the vaccine across the nation, especially in marginalized and hard to reach areas.
Mr. Biden hopes to get 100 million Americans vaccinated by April 30th, his 100th day in office. To accommodate this goal, he mobilized the National Guard and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to ramp up vaccination efforts nationally, and used the Defense Production Act to secure the needed PPE. As of now, the administration has reached half-way through their target, having 50 million vaccines administered weeks in advance, with the U.S. averaging about 1 million doses per day.
On March 2, President Biden announced the U.S will have enough available doses to vaccinate all 300 million eligible adults by end-of-May.
Before taking office, the President proposed the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9T COVID stimulus bill, ensuring $1,400 checks to families across America. This plan will send these checks to individuals and families under certain income levels; it will also extend unemployment checks through September 6, provide grants to small businesses, and give money for schools (mainly elementary and middle schools) to safely reopen.
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, after Congressional negotiations which saw removal of a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour, and some changes to the amounts and duration of the unemployment checks mentioned above.
In a momentous effort to combat the effects of climate change, President Biden will enact a $2T climate plan under his proposed clean energy plan. The administration set ambitious goals of reducing carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050. Through this plan, Mr. Biden hopes to spearhead the U.S. as an international leader on climate change.
On Biden’s first day, sending a strong message to the world as the United States rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, the U.S. vowed to cut its greenhouse emissions by 26-28% before 2025, with a deep-rooted goal of curbing these emissions to 50% by 2050. In an onslaught of executive actions, President Biden revoked the federal permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as implementing pauses on natural-gas and oil leases on federal lands, and promising to review the previous administration’s lax environmental regulations.
The resounding impact of COVID-19 in the economy created a crisis within itself: a nationwide shutdown that precipitated massive layoffs, business shutdowns, and overall economic slowdown. Many experts agree that once COVID is under control, the economy will rebound and stabilize. Joe Biden’s plan to prioritize the pandemic somewhat sidetracked his agenda for the economy.
President Biden has introduced a tax plan that would revert former President Trump's tax cuts and reductions on corporations and the wealthy. Under his proposed tax plan, Mr. Biden will raise tax rates for individuals making $400,000 or higher, increase the corporate-tax rate from 21% to 28%, and give tax breaks for most citizens. It is likely that Biden’s plan will be halted until the economy stabilizes from COVID.
Mr. Biden had called for sweeping changes on immigration. On his first day, he sent the U.S Citizenship Act of 2021 to Congress. The bill will ensure DREAMers—under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—will have a roadmap to apply for U.S. citizenship and permanent residency. It will fortify the DACA program, and is promises to stop family separations at the border and tighten supervision of the border personnel after concerns of disturbing inhumane conditions and mistreatment. President Biden signed another executive action that negates former President Trump’s order to find and deport non-citizens by using aggressive efforts and force.
On the same day, President Biden withdrew former President Trump’s “Muslim Ban” that restricted immigration from Muslim-majority countries, and pulled funding for the construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
The administration also proposed a 100-day deportation ban, though a federal judge from Texas blocked the pause, “indefinitely banning” the administration from enforcing it.
NATIONWIDE RACIAL EQUALITY AND CRIMINAL-JUSTICE REFORM
In a direct response to the nationwide uproar following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many other Black Americans under police custody, President Biden has pledged to introduce a National Police Oversight Board within his first 100 days in office. With a long-term goal of increasing police reform and rooting out systemic racism in the nation, he has pushed for a $300-million plan to invest in community policing. He has also urged Congress to pass the SAFE Justice Act, a bill that would outline reform in America’s prison system and help diminish racial disparities.
In his first weeks in office, the president has enacted several executive orders intended to strengthen racial equity across the nation. These include ending contracts with private prisons, dismantling former President Trump’s 1776 Commission that intended to erase and rewrite America’s history of racial injustice, promoting fair-housing policies, denouncing xenophobia and attacks against Asian Americans, and upholding tribal sovereignty. He has also vowed to work with Congress to implement the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a piece of legislation that would seek to end voting suppression against marginalized communities of color.