Biden’s First Month in Office Filled with Promises
Olivia Allery, staff writer
Inheriting a divided country from the previous Trump administration, President Joe Biden has a challenging task ahead of him, facing unprecedented health, economic and climate crises. Now that he has been in office for a month, many members of the public have looked on to see how he has measured up in combating these crises – and how he has carried out the lofty promises he made at the beginning of his term.
The starting weeks of Biden’s presidency rolled back many controversial actions from the Trump administration. This included rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, stopping the Keystone XL pipeline and reversing the Muslim travel ban. Biden also aimed to reverse Trump’s legacy when it came to vaccine distribution. According to CNN, he received no vaccine distribution plan from the previous administration, but he since launched a national vaccination program focused on providing vaccines to underrepresented communities, with the ultimate goal of distributing 100 million shots in 100 days.
“It is still too early to judge very well.” said Andrew Aoki, a professor of political science at Augsburg, in regards to how the Biden Administration is going. “It would be too early in any case, but for Biden, he unavoidably got a slower start than most other presidents. The impeachment trial distracted Senate attention for a few days and slowed action on confirming key appointees.”
While many of Biden’s early orders were popular among the public, his actions have been marred with more controversy as the month has progressed. Last week marked Biden’s first major military action since taking office. He ordered airstrikes on buildings in Syria in response to an attack on US civilian contractors at a military base in Iraq. The strike is estimated to have killed 22 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“I would say it is upsetting that within his first month in office he has continued imperialist war policies from the Trump administration, like last week’s bombing of Syria for example, as well as breaking his promise of giving us $2,000 checks,” said John Reuss, a second-year student at Augsburg and organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation in Minneapolis.
One of Biden’s big promises was to give each American $2,000 in stimulus as part of the COVID-19 relief package as well as to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. These benefits are both absent from the current bill due to concerns from Biden that their inclusion would prevent Republicans from supporting the bill, although Biden has promised to push the minimum wage increase on its own in the future, according to CNBC.
Another contested policy is student debt forgiveness. Many Democrats – most prominently Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Elizabeth Warren – believe that Biden should forgive up to $50,000 of student debt. Biden, meanwhile, has only committed to forgiving up to $10,000 worth of debt, citing concerns that any more than that would disproportionately benefit students from elite schools.
“Biden’s first actions have followed his promises, which is typically the case for new presidents. The first executive orders (e.g., rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change, reversing many of Trump’s immigration orders) were notable examples, although also some of the easier promises to fulfill,” says Aoki.