Joe Biden has officially won the 2020 election. Between the ongoing pandemic, systemic racism, the climate change crisis and the economic state of the country, U.S. citizens are asking a lot of our next president.
This November, HCAU’s Editorial Team compiled a list of what we believe is most expected of Biden over his next four years in office.
- COVID Relief
President Elect Joe Biden has made it clear that confronting the coronavirus pandemic is the first order of business when he takes office.
Much of this plan revolves around financials. Biden wants to put more money towards businesses and the health care system, vaccine distribution and schools reopening.
When I met with the Republican and Democratic governors and mayors, they said, we need help on how to [distribute it],” Biden said in the NBC News interview. “One was certain they would be able to do it in their state: ‘Just get me the vaccine. I can do it.’ But it’s an incredibly expensive proposition, incredibly expensive proposition.”
Biden has also been quoted acknowledging how hospitals are underfunded and under equipped to handle the virus and believes supporting them will help reduce the outbreak. The same can be said for schools as the future president has acknowledged the need for proper sanitation equipment, ventilation and enough teachers so students can be taught in smaller groups.
Communication to the public is something Biden also wants to make sure is handled correctly. And this starts with convincing citizens to receive the vaccine and continue to encourage wearing proper masks.
“I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask, just 100 days to mask, not forever, 100 days.”
The 13-member task force Biden has assembled is one that is science-based and made up entirely of health experts and doctors. The three co-chairs include Vivek H. Murthy who was surgeon general during the Obama administration, Marcella Nunez-Smith who is Yale School of Medicine’s associate dean for health equity research and finally David Kessler, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner during the George H.W. Bush administration as well as the Bill Clinton administration.
In addition, the task force also includes leading doctors Ezekiel Emanuel, Atul Gawande, Michael T. Osterholm, Eric Goosby, Celine R. Gounder, Julie Morita, Loyce Pace and Robert Rodriguez. The final two members are Rebecca Katz and Beth Cameron.
The goal of this task force has many goals that will hopefully help the country gain control over the pandemic. Work will be done with both state and local officials to establish economic and public health policies that will address, not only the virus, but racial and ethnic discrepancies within communities. It will also work towards reopening business and schools with the help of the transition team.
Biden hopes that, through his work with Democratic and Republican governors as well as the sub-groups within the virus task forces, the country will become more unified and life can return to some sort or normalcy. –Peyton Bigora
- Removing Trump’s Muslim/Africa Ban
President-elect Joe Biden has promised to revoke the Trump-era travel ban on his first day in office. Before President Donald Trump issued his first executive order attempting to establish a ban on immigrants from Middle Eastern countires, he demanded a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” and falsely stated that “Islam hates us.” This malicious xenophobia that Trump spews was followed by a series executive orders to keep many Muslims from entering the U.S.
These travel restrictions are a painful reminder of the xenophobia that is running rampant in the U.S. during this administration. Between October of 2015 and September of 2019 there was a decrease of 79% in visas issued to Iranians, 74% for Somalis and 66% for Yemenis, according to The Bridge Initiative.“Each time the Muslim ban was reintroduced, it carried the same discriminatory intent, but changed its language and process in hopes that the courts would allow it to stand,” says Max Wolson, a staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center.
Fortunately, the bans can easily be undone as they were issued by executive order and presidential proclamation, but lawsuits from conservative lawmakers could delay this process. In October, Biden also promised to enact laws to fight the ever-rising number of hate crimes in the U.S. “As president, I’ll work with you to rip the poison of hate from our society to honour your contributions and seek your ideas. My administration will look like America with Muslim Americans serving at every level,” he said.
This promise is not only a test to holding President-elect Biden to his campaign promises, but a proclamation that hate and xenophobia are not tolerated in Biden’s America. –Hannah Andress
- Climate Change
Climate change is one of, if not, the most important issue our world is having to come to terms with. Gen Z voters especially felt driven to the polls this past Election Day because of the climate crisis not only our country faces, but the future of the world faces. According to Pew Research Center, 54% of Gen Z say that the Earth is getting warmer due to human activity and 70% of Gen Z believe the government should do more to solve problems. So, this begs the question: will a Biden administration act on the climate crisis?
President-elect Joe Biden has called climate change an existential threat, and promised his voters that he will encourage the rest of the world to act more quickly on curbing emissions by rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. This agreement may be familiar to some because when President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord back in 2017 and also denied committing the U.S. to cut greenhouse gases up to 28% by 2025, he received a lot of backlash from the outspoken and politically active Gen Z.
Even though older generations of the GOP do not consider climate change a prominent issue or think our government should do more for us, interestingly enough, Gen Z Republicans are more likely to attribute the Earth’s warming temperatures to human behavior and have a desire for increased government. This could indicate that climate change could one day be a bipartisan issue and my personal hopes are that Biden leads politicians to that.
But, in the 2020 presidential debates, Biden was unclear on his stance with the Green New Deal and if he will stop fracking in Pennsylvania in order to make the Earth a cleaner and better place. In the first presidential debate, Biden said point-blank that he doesn’t support the Green New Deal, but instead, supports his own “Biden Plan” as an alternative to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey’s proposed bill. Although both plans to address climate change are similar, it is important to note that the Green New Deal calls for universal jobs and healthcare whereas Biden’s plan does not.
Declaring that climate change is the number one issue facing humanity is one thing, but acting on climate change and ensuring the future of Americans is another. Hopefully within the next four years, Americans see Biden take climate change as seriously as he claimed it to be during his 2020 campaign. If the United States does not handle climate change, then none of the other policies or issues matter because there will be no world to live in if we do not preserve it. –Christina McAlister
- Student Loans
Student loan debt has become a growing economic concern over the past several decades. As of this year, student debt in the United States is at an all time high of $1.6 trillion, accumulated by around 45 million borrowers.
Aptly named the Student Debt Crisis, student loans have plunged many Americans into financial struggles as they attempt to pay off their loans and the high amounts of interest. And experts cite student debt as a key factor in the national racial wealth gap, as Black students tend to take out more and bigger student loans than white students.
Policymakers have been considering eliminating student loan debt partially or entirely for years now, but the Covid-19 pandemic seems to have brought conversations around loan relief to center stage. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Chuck Schumer have been arguing for $50,000 per person in student loan forgiveness to stimulate the economy and act as a form of pandemic relief.
While it is unlikely that President-elect Joe Biden will use his executive power to cancel student debt when he takes office this January, he has demonstrated his support for some loan forgiveness up to $10,000 per person. He could attempt to use an executive order to employ debt relief, or he could have the Democratic Party pass a bill through Congress, which may work if Democrats win the Georgia runoff races in January.
There is some debate as to whether partially cancelling student debt would have a true positive impact on the economy. Most people who have student debt are college graduates with jobs that have been enough to support them throughout the pandemic, and approximately half of those who have taken out student loans are people with graduate degrees, including doctors and lawyers.
Still, even though it’s a relatively weak option for economic stimulus overall, it can certainly help to relieve some of the financial stressors that millions of Americans face every day. This is particularly true for low and middle class families who have been struggling to pay off their student loans.
Whether Biden sticks with his promise to partially forgive student debt while he’s president remains to be seen. But as Democrats and his constituents continue to put pressure on him, he just might decide to follow through. –Nicole Scallan
America is in a state of emergency… regarding more than one issue. There is a lot riding on the next four years, and we are hopeful that our new President and Vice President will be able to see this country through this difficult time.