President Biden’s 2021, So Far

Art by Emily Bao.

For many Americans, the end of 2020 also brought an end to the political chaos and excitement of the presidential election. While Trump had commanded the news throughout his entire presidency through his controversial actions, politics has not kept nearly as much of the media’s spotlight post election. While this can certainly be a relief, it is important to recognize the impressive strides President Biden and Vice President Harris have already made during their first months in office. While political drama has not been nearly as prevalent, the United States has taken crucial steps towards President Biden’s goals. 

For obvious reasons, dealing with the COVID pandemic has been the number one priority for Americans. Because of this, Biden’s concrete plans on how to better address the situation in the US played a major role in getting him elected. On his first day in office, President Biden passed a federal mask mandate obligating Americans to follow mask and social distancing protocols in all government properties. This may seem like an obvious step for the government to promote health and safety; however, there was no such policy till Trump left office. Biden also reversed the withdrawal of the US from the World Health Organization, highlighting the importance of global cooperation needed to stop the virus.

In many ways Biden has treated the pandemic as a wartime situation, enlisting the use of executive orders like the Defense Production Act to catch up to the rest of the world in terms of vaccine production, distribution, and safety measurements. “When I say wartime, people kind of look at me like ‘wartime?’ Well… 400,000 Americans have died. That’s more than have died in all of World War II. 400,000. This is a wartime undertaking,” President Biden describes, live. The number of deaths has continued to grow to nearly 550 thousand since then. Possibly one of the most impactful policies of Biden’s presidency is his massive stimulus package designed to stimulate the US economy and provide relief bills to Americans, creating a much needed lifeline. While many republicans had argued such a bill is unnecessary, pointing towards data showing the economy’s recovery as evidence, many Americans are still feeling the effects of lost small businesses and other personal economic problems. It was ultimately able to make it through congress thanks to the democrats’ majority in the House and Senate. This package includes a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill, which sends $1400 and an extended $300 per week unemployment insurance supplement to all qualified Americans. It also expands the child tax credit, which will hopefully be a strong blow to child poverty. This bill was passed in hopes of proving to the American people that “the government and our democracy can deliver on really hard things,” says the president. Furthermore, Biden is showing that the government can be “the solution, not the problem” for Americans by having the government be more hands-on, as seen with these policies. 

Another priority for the President is restoring the public’s trust in the government’s ability to deal with large scale domestic issues (including the coronavirus), which had been strained during the Trump administration. A major part of this for Biden is being completely upfront and honest regarding the details of the virus, giving realistic goals for vaccinations as well as accurate numbers and issues that still need to be faced. Part of this effort is separating the coronavirus from politics. Unfortunately, COVID has triggered increased polarization between political parties– a bonfire that was only fanned by Trump during his presidency, as Republicans and Democrats have generally had different responses to the epidemic. Generally, the right and left have different relationships with science, and trust in medical experts during the epidemic has been affected by this. 

While President Biden has touched on other important issues, such as restoring participation in the Paris Climate Change Accord and revoking permit for the keystone XL pipeline, his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic best exemplifies his leadership. Biden has already accomplished his goal of 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days, and the US is rapidly making up for its tardiness during the Trump administration. The US is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel thanks to the leadership of the Biden administration, however as always it is critical that the CDC recommended safety measures are heeded. 

Sources:

Abramovitz, Mimi. “‘Government Is the Solution, Not the Problem.'” The New York

     Times, March 21, 2021. Accessed April 5, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/

     2021/03/21/opinion/letters/government-role.html?smid=url-share.

Associated Press. “Biden’s first act: Orders on pandemic, climate, immigration.”

     January 20, 2021. Accessed April 5, 2021. https://apnews.com/article/

     joe-biden-executive-orders-b5b409da08e42414b9a12e2c67ee2df6. 

Pramuk, Jacob. “Biden signs $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill, clearing way for

     stimulus checks, vaccine aid.” CNBC, March 11, 2021. Accessed April 5,

     2021. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/11/

     biden-1point9-trillion-covid-relief-package-thursday-afternoon.html. 

Wagner, Meg. “Biden’s first full day in office.” CNN politics, January 21, 2021.

     Accessed April 5, 2021. http://h_1122c1996b539ee2bf80006978126494. 

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