Biden as 46th US President
Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took oath as President and Vice President on January 20 thus bringing to a close the uncertainly that plagued the US after the election results were announced in November last year. When Biden formally announced his candidature to the 2020 presidential race, he declared that he stood for two things – workers who “built this country”, and values that can bridge its divisions. As the US faces continued challenges from coronavirus to racial inequity, Biden aims to create new economic opportunities for workers, restore environmental protection and healthcare rights, with a sharp focus on international alliances.
To tackle coronavirus, the new government aims to provide free testing for all and hire 100,000 people to set up a national contact-tracing programme. Biden says he will establish at least 10 testing centres in every state and enlist the federal agencies to deploy resources and give firmer national guidance through federal experts. He says all governors should mandate wearing masks. To address the immediate impact of the coronavirus crisis, Biden has vowed to spend “whatever it takes” to extend loans to small businesses and increase direct money payments to families. Among the proposals are an additional $200 in Social Security payments per month, repeal the Trump-era tax cuts and $10,000 of student loan forgiveness for federal loans.
There is also a $400bn pledge to use federal dollars to buy American goods with a former commitment to enforce “Buy American” laws for new transport projects. Earlier, Biden was criticized for backing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which critics say shipped jobs overseas. His 2020 plan calls for the federal government to invest $300bn in US-made materials, services, research and technology.
On racism in the US, Biden admitted that it exists and must be addressed through broad economic and social programmes to support minorities. An important pillar of his “build back” programme is to create business support for minorities through a $30bn investment fund.
On Climate Change, Biden says it is an existential threat for which he would build solidarity across the world to curb carbon emissions by rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. The agreement, which Donald Trump withdrew from, committed the US to cutting greenhouse gases up to 28% by 2025, based on 2005 levels.
As is expected by large sections of voters, Biden says that his first 100 days in office would be dedicated to reversing Trump’s policies including those that separated parents from their children at the US-Mexican border and to rescind limits on the number of applications for asylum and also end the bans on travel from several majority-Muslim countries.
Biden however did not really spell out his foreign policy initiatives but that’s only to be expected since the new President has much to do in setting things right in his own country.