Tue 19 Jan, 2021 11:52 pm
Since Joseph Biden will be sworn today, it's time to move the discussion along.
Biden Plans Ambitious Agenda for First 100-Days
By Rob Garver
January 19, 2021 06:44 AM
WASHINGTON - President-elect Joe Biden is promoting a $1.9 trillion economic relief package to a country battered by a year-long pandemic that will have killed over 400,000 Americans and sickened tens of millions more before he takes office this week.
The proposal announced Thursday evening is an aggressive start for an administration that will have only slim Congressional majorities to work with, especially as it comes layered atop a policy agenda packed with a wide array of Democratic priorities. These range from combatting climate change to safeguarding voting rights to reforming America‚Äôs immigration system.
Biden Announces $1.9 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package
Transition team describes plan as ‚Äėambitious but achievable‚Äô
It will also have to compete for lawmakers‚Äô attention with a Senate trial of Biden‚Äôs predecessor, Donald Trump, who was impeached Jan. 13 on accusations that he incited a violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol as Biden‚Äôs election victory was being certified.
Since President Franklin Roosevelt‚Äôs historic push to enact major portions of his Depression-era ‚ÄúNew Deal‚ÄĚ beginning in the early 1930s, all succeeding presidents have been measured by how much of their agenda they could pass during the first 100 days of their administrations. Biden appears determined to push a major chunk of his agenda through Congress in the early going, experts say.
‚ÄúWhat other president has come in arguing for a $2 trillion stimulus right out of the gate?‚ÄĚ asked Dan Mahaffee, senior vice president and director of policy at the Washington-based Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. The closest comparison, he said, was to the beginning of the Obama administration, in which Biden served as vice president, when the president signed a $787 billion economic stimulus package weeks after inauguration.
Biden will have to deal with much slimmer majorities in each chamber than Obama did. Yet his plan is ‚Äúeven greater because it's a twin public health and economic challenge,‚ÄĚ Mahaffee said.
'A crisis of deep human suffering'
Flanked by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on a stage in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden described a nation in urgent need of help after months of lockdowns constrained consumer spending and left widespread economic devastation.
‚ÄúSome 18 million Americans are still relying on unemployment insurance, some 400,000 small businesses have permanently closed their doors and it's not hard to see that we are in the middle of a once-in-several-generations economic crisis with a once-in-several-generations public health crisis,‚ÄĚ Biden said. ‚ÄúA crisis of deep, human suffering is in plain sight and there's no time to waste. We have to act and we have to act now.‚ÄĚ
But in a foretaste of the headwinds facing Biden, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio promptly tweeted a likely line of resistance.
‚ÄúPresident-Elect Biden served in the Senate for over 35 years. So he knows the plan he outlined tonight can‚Äôt pass ‚Äėquickly‚Äô,‚ÄĚ Rubio wrote. The senator called for prioritizing payments to lower and moderate-income Americans, saying, ‚ÄúLet‚Äôs get the extra money to people first.‚ÄĚ
The largest element of the proposal is, by far, approximately $1 trillion in direct payments and other measures meant to support struggling individuals and families. It would add $1,400 in immediate payments to the $600 checks signed into law by President Trump last month, and would increase and lengthen the duration of unemployment benefits. Other elements of the plan would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, protect renters from eviction, and provide increased food aid to the needy.
Biden‚Äôs plan also calls for $440 billion in direct aid to small businesses and state, local, and tribal governments, which have seen tax revenues plummet during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
Finally, the proposal would dedicate $400 billion to a greatly increased federal response to the pandemic. Biden envisions a national vaccination program, expansion of diagnostic virus testing, and support for schools and healthcare workers.
A much broader agenda
The package Biden put forward on Thursday will become the number one priority of his new administration, but it is far from the only thing he hopes to accomplish in his first months in office. Other policy priorities include:
Foreign Policy ‚ÄĒ Having spent much of his 36-year career in the U.S. Senate serving on that chamber‚Äôs Foreign Relations Committee, Biden has promised to repair relationships with allies and other countries alienated by the Trump administration‚Äôs isolationist ‚ÄúAmerica First‚ÄĚ agenda. He also vows to convene an international summit focused on combating corruption and militant nationalism.
Voting Rights ‚ÄĒ Democrats have long been eager to pass an expansion of the Voting Rights Act, aimed at reducing the ability of states and localities to hamper or restrict the ability of citizens to vote in elections, and Biden is expected to push for those reforms.
Criminal justice reform ‚ÄĒ Responding to public outrage over a rash of police killings of unarmed African American men, Biden has promised to establish a national police oversight commission and to invest in community policing strategies meant to help de-escalate tensions between law enforcement and the communities they serve. He also backs comprehensive sentencing reform and programs to reduce continued criminal activity by those released from jail.
Environment ‚ÄĒ Biden has indicated that he will re-join the Paris Climate Accord and will take other steps to make the United States a global leader in the effort to reduce climate change. This will include efforts to undo the Trump administration‚Äôs relaxation of regulations on the extraction and burning of fossil fuels and fuel efficiency of cars and trucks.
Taxes ‚ÄĒ Biden hopes to repeal a huge corporate tax cut passed during the Trump years, which cut the business rate from 35% to 21%, and to raise income taxes on the wealthiest Americans. He has promised that taxes on people earning less than $400,000 will not rise.
Immigration ‚ÄĒ After four years of an administration that was openly hostile to many forms of immigration to the United States, the Biden administration is proposing sweeping immigration reform that would create a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants. It would also permanently install protections for people brought to the country illegally as children, and would move to reunite children and parents separated at the border under a since-shelved Trump administration program.
Infrastructure and green technology ‚ÄĒ Biden has promised to jump-start long-stalled efforts to overhaul the country‚Äôs crumbling infrastructure, beginning with what he sees as a years-long investment of some $2 trillion in the nation‚Äôs roads, bridges, transit systems, and more. He would couple that with investment in green technology, including electric cars, sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy.
Fighting the Trump narrative
Mahaffee, of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, said Biden should be able to count on at least some cooperation from Congress in the early days of his administration.
‚ÄúThe consensus in Congress, even with a 50-50 Senate, is that action does need to be taken on the economy,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThe slow rollout of the vaccine is visible, the continued job losses ‚ÄĒ that focuses lawmakers.‚ÄĚ
But Mahaffee predicted the Biden administration will press for big achievements outside the area of immediate economic relief as a means of countering a false but persistent claim by President Trump and his most ardent supporters that the recent election was somehow fraudulent and that Biden‚Äôs presidency is illegitimate.
‚ÄúThe challenge for President Biden will be this narrative of illegitimacy that he will face outside Washington, coming from Trump supporters, perhaps the ex-president himself, and others in the media on the right,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI think they'll feel the need to act big to show results and progress to change that narrative in some ways.‚ÄĚ
World leaders welcome Biden with praise, pleas, and parting shots at Trump
By Rob Picheta, CNN
Updated 7:35 AM ET, Wed January 20, 2021
London (CNN)When Joe Biden is sworn in Wednesday as the 46th United States president, he will take the reins of a country in crisis. But his task on the global stage will be daunting too.
World leaders reacted to Biden's inauguration by offering congratulations, jockeying for position at the forefront of his foreign policy agenda, and in some cases pleading for the reversal of his predecessor's policies. Among most messages was a palpable sense of relief, as the international community embraced Biden's pledge to reenter a series of global pacts and organizations that President Donald Trump cut loose.
Here's what leaders have said so far.
"Once again, after four long years, Europe has a friend in the White House," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday, leaving no uncertainty about her verdict on Trump's relationship with the bloc.
"This new dawn in America is the moment we've been waiting for so long. Europe is ready for a new start with our oldest and most trusted partner," she said in the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.
Von der Leyen said Biden's inauguration would "be a message of healing for a deeply divided nation and it will be a message of hope for a world that is waiting for the US to be back in the circle of like-minded states."
Biden has signaled a warmer partnership with Europe than Trump, who frequently criticized the EU on trade during his administration. His attacks on some European leaders led to frosty scenes at a number of summits. "From our perspective, Trump saw Europe as an enemy," a senior European diplomat told CNN last week. "The lasting impact of 'America First' is the US having fewer friends in Europe."
Hours before the inauguration, Beijing expressed hope that Biden would "look at China rationally and objectively" to repair "serious damage" in bilateral ties caused by the Trump presidency.
"In the past four years, the US administration has made fundamental mistakes in its strategic perception of China ... interfering in China's internal affairs, suppressing and smearing China, and causing serious damage to China-US relations," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press briefing Wednesday.
The Biden administration should, Hua said, "look at China rationally and objectively, meet China halfway and, in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, push China-US relations back to the right track of healthy and stable development as soon as possible."
One of the main planks of Trump's foreign policy platform has been his trade war with China. The Trump administration's 11th hour declaration that China is committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims will heighten tensions with Beijing, though Biden's nominee for Secretary of State said Tuesday that he agreed with the designation.
"If the new US administration can adopt a more rational and responsible attitude in formulating its foreign policy, I think it will be warmly welcomed by everyone in the international community," she added.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani called on Biden to return to the 2015 nuclear deal and lift US sanctions on Iran, overturning a key part of Trump's foreign policy program.
"The ball is in the US' court now. If Washington returns to Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, we will also fully respect our commitments under the pact," Rouhani said in a televised cabinet meeting.
He also launched a scathing attack on the outgoing President. A "tyrant's era came to an end and today is the final day of his ominous reign," Rouhani said of Trump's departure. "Someone for whom all of his four years bore no fruit other than injustice and corruption and causing problems for his own people and the world."
Biden has said he plans to return to the nuclear deal with Iran, which was signed during when he was Barack Obama's Vice President. Biden's national security aides have suggested they would like further negotiations on Iran's ballistic missile capabilities, though Rouhani has said the missile prograam is non-negotiable.
The German President said he was relieved that Biden would be sworn in Wednesday, calling it "a good day for democracy."
"In the United States, (democracy) held up against a lot of pressure," Frank Walter Steinmeier said in a statement.
"Despite internal hostility, America's institutions have proven strong -- election workers, governors, judiciary, and Congress," he said. "I am relieved that Joe Biden is sworn in as President today and coming into the White House. I know that this feeling is shared by many people in Germany.
Steinmeier also warned against the populist brand of politics that Trump embraced. "Despite all the joy we have about today, we must not forget that populism has seduced even the most powerful democracy in the world," he said. "We must resolutely oppose polarization, protect and strengthen the public space of our democracies, and shape politics on the basis of reason and facts."
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was looking forward to a close relationship with Biden's administration.
"In our fight against Covid and across climate change, defence, security and in promoting and defending democracy, our goals are the same and our nations will work hand in hand to achieve them," Johnson said in a statement Tuesday.
Johnson warmly welcomed Trump on his visits to the UK, with Trump once claiming that the Prime Minister was nicknamed "Britain Trump." But the outgoing US leader was unpopular among Brits, and Johnson will be keen to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with Biden.
The new President could end up making two trips to the UK in 2021, with Johnson saying he looks forward to welcoming him to the G7 summit and to the hotly anticipated 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. "Only through international cooperation can we truly overcome the shared challenges which we face," Johnson said on Tuesday.
It‚Äôs a pity Trump can‚Äôt take Johnson with him.
You‚Äôve got rid of incompetent bad hair fascist, we‚Äôre still stuck with ours and the utter pig‚Äôs ear he‚Äôs made of Brexit.
I don't know how long the spirit of unity will last, but the leaders of the republican party spent the morning with Biden at the Catholic church instead of attending Trump's send off party.
Biden Prepares to Take Oath of Office in Capital Under Lockdown
I think they appreciate not having to deal with a capricious self centred toddler. Biden will at least act presidential. I think with a few right wing exceptions the honeymoon period should last at least six months.
The Republicans will cooperate with Covid relief and infrastructure funding.
The Republicans will cooperate with an immigration reform bill that they participate in creating
(i.e. not the one that Mr. Biden is already sending their way).
There, the cooperation will end.
Mr. Biden is illegitimate and the American people reject him. That's why he has to hold his inauguration surrounded by thousands of armed troops.
And don't forget the impeachment trial. There isn't going to be any honeymoon period at all. The trial is going to be divisive.
If the Democrats drag it out and make it a long impeachment trial, 2021 will be all about Mr. Trump and no one will give much thought to Mr. Biden.
Once Biden takes that Oath in about 45 minutes, you will become irrelevant.
Wrong again. Mr. Biden and his illegitimate oath have no impact on my relevancy.
He‚Äôs always been irrelevant.
So what do you guys make of Lady Gaga singing? I was surprised. Kamala Harris is being sworn in now, many firsts.
He‚Äôs always been irrelevant.
I am just as relevant as any other American citizen who votes. Probably more so since I'm able to come up with pretty good ideas and communicate them.
Mr. Biden and his illegitimate oath
What is the legal definition of an "illegitimate oath"? How is it different to the "designated presidential oath"?
I got a tad emotional when watching Kamala Harris taking her oath of office. Heaven knows how sane Americans must be feeling!
Walter Hinteler wrote:
How is it different to the "designated presidential oath"?
The primary difference is that Mr. Biden is illegitimate and is rejected by the American people.
My question was about the "illegitimate oath".
And how it is different to the "designated presidential oath".
I know. That's why I answered it.
I shed a tear when Biden was called Mr President. Now the BBC is querying whether he is yet because it‚Äôs not yet twelve.
He is not. Not for seven more minutes.