On the third day of the Biden presidency I wrote an op-ed for DemCast USA titled “Day 3 and Doesn’t Normal Feel Good?” Ninety seven days later, President Joe Biden has just given his first address to a joint session of Congress and I am happy to report that 100 days into this presidency the state of the union is getting better each day.
Let’s take a look at what has been accomplished over the last 100 days and celebrate the return of competence and caring to our government. Even though he’s faced enormous partisan resistance from the Republicans in Congress, the president has already taken actions that will make life easier for most Americans.
Biden promised that he would appoint a cabinet that “looks like America” and he has done just that by placing women, such as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and people of color, like Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in important positions. He appointed the first transgender federal official, Rachel Levine, to win Senate confirmation. The historic appointments of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttegieg marked the first time a Native American and a member of the LGBTQ+ community have served on a president’s cabinet. This is the most diverse cabinet in history. These people of various races, genders, orientations and gender identities are the president’s partners in the accomplishments we’ve observed.
As we review the last 100 days it is clear that the biggest challenge the president faced was the coronavirus pandemic and the reluctance of people to take it seriously. Biden has consistently worn a mask in public and modeled appropriate behavior. Under this president, the CDC and FDA have been honest and transparent about COVID-19 numbers. Coming into office, the president set a goal that seemed almost impossible: putting 100 million vaccine shots into the arms of Americans by the end of his first 100 days in office. Instead, we are celebrating the inoculations of almost 142 million people in this country before the end of the first 100 days. In addition, Biden reopened the Affordable Care Act exchanges so that people who lost their health insurance during the pandemic had the opportunity to get affordable coverage. This coverage includes care for COVID-19. The Department of Justice also withdrew its support of a legal case filed against the ACA.
On his very first day in office Biden announced The American Rescue Plan, an aggressive $1.9 trillion bill to address the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. The bill includes these provisions:
- Checks for economic impact payments of $1,400 to each eligible American.
- $160 billion for vaccines and vaccinators.
- State and local fiscal recovery fund to assist local governments in paying for COVID-19-related expenses.
- Capital projects fund.
- Homeowner assistance fund and emergency rental assistance, as well as a pause on eviction and foreclosures to help people stay in their homes.
- State small business credit initiative.
- Employee retention credit and paid leave credit programs to help employers pay their workers.
- Waived taxation of some unemployment benefits. This means that taxpayers who earned less than $150,000 in modified adjusted gross income may exclude unemployment compensation up to $20,400 if married filing jointly, and $10,200 for all other eligible taxpayers.
- Expanded child tax credit which will lift more than 4 million children out of poverty.
- Funds to help schools do the retrofitting they need in order to safely open. This includes improving ventilation, buying PPE and COVID-19 testing.
Biden signed it into law on March 11 without any Republican support. More vaccines in American arms coupled with economic relief have led to lower numbers of COVID-19 infections and higher employment numbers. Biden halted our exit from the World Health Organization and has committed to sharing our excess vaccine doses with other countries, acknowledging that viruses don’t stop at borders.
Another welcome change we’ve seen over the last 100 days is prioritizing the health of our planet and acknowledging the problem of climate change with a return to the Paris Climate Accord. Biden also revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.
During this time of increasing awareness of racial inequality President Biden has strengthened anti-discrimination housing policies. He also has ended contracts with for-profit prisons and the Department of Justice has opened investigations into police department practices in Kentucky and Minnesota.
Biden’s first 100 days have seen a new policy of protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ people. He repealed the ban on transgender people serving in the military and directed federal agencies to protect the human rights of LGBTQ+ people abroad. The president also formed the White House Gender Policy Council which is tasked with advancing the country towards gender equality.
President Biden has taken steps to make our immigration policy more humane. He paused construction of the border wall. In addition, this administration has made reuniting separated families a major priority, There is now a task force focused on making sure separated families are reunited. Biden also ended the policy of separating families. He signed an order directing the attorney general and the secretary of Homeland Security to preserve and strengthen Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and has proposed an overhaul of immigration laws that will create an earned path to citizenship for Dreamers and essential workers.
The first 100 days of the Biden presidency have been filled with accomplishments and the president has big plans for the future. He is now promoting the American Jobs Plan; a White House fact sheet says, “This is the moment to reimagine and rebuild a new economy. The American Jobs Plan (AJP) is an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China.” This proposed legislation will invest $2.25 trillion to rebuild infrastructure and promote clean energy. The AJP will provide $650 billion in physical infrastructure for road, water system and rural broadband.
In his address to a joint session of Congress on April 28 the president talked about The American Families Plan which will make education available to everyone. He wants to provide free Pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-olds, and to that end, his proposal includes funding for two years of Pre-K. According to CNN, another plan will fully fund community colleges. Biden will also call for more funding for historically Black colleges and universities and other specialty educational institutions.
Biden mentioned HR1/S1, the For The People Act. “To truly restore the soul of America, we need to protect the sacred right to vote.” He urged lawmakers to pass this historic election overhaul which will ensure free and fair elections. Making Election Day a holiday, mandating the availability of voting by mail, and reforming voter registration procedures are just a few of the provisions in this bill.
If the Biden administration can accomplish these ambitious goals with the same level of success as during the first 100 days, this will be a transformative era in American history. I am looking forward to seeing how these positive actions will improve our country.
Photo courtesy of NASA
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