Joe Biden has been in office since January 20th and has accomplished more in two months as president than his recent predecessors during the same time frame.
In his first three days in office, President Joe Biden signed no less than 30 executive orders, actions and memorandums to rapidly address coronavirus pandemic matters as well as to dismantle many of former President Donald Trump’s policies. These measures include: making masks mandatory, requiring social distancing on federal property, increasing vaccination supplies, requiring travelers to provide a negative COVID-19 test before entering American soil, halting funding for the construction of Trump’s border wall with Mexico, and reversing Trump’s travel ban targeting Muslim countries.
Nevertheless, his highest achievement for now may be the controversial $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package that the House passed on March 10th. It is the largest economic relief measure in US history and has left Republicans skeptical and economists optimistic about the impact it will have on the economy. Biden signed the bill on March 11th, making it officially effective. The bill includes a single payment of $1,400 to eligible Americans, increased unemployment benefits, an extension of child tax credit, funding for vaccine distribution as well as billions to help schools and universities reopen.
Republicans highly opposed the $1.9 trillion stimulus. They depicted it as too costly, considering the $6.6 trillion already spent during the 2020 fiscal year. As the economy reopens and is starting to recover, the stimulus bill is seen as too big to do good as fear of inflation and debt piling up arise. Democrats pushed the bill through the Senate by presenting it as a budget reconciliation, which protected the bill from the filibuster as it only needed a simple majority to pass.
If Biden promised to create consensus in Washington between Republicans and Democrats during his campaign, he is failing. No Republicans voted for his bill. Nevertheless, he still managed to have the support of the American people. According to a Pew Research Center poll released on March 9th, 70% of US adults are in favor of Biden’s bill, including 41% of Republicans. A different poll from the Associated Press also found that 70% of Americans approve of the President’s handling of the pandemic so far.
Early analysis of the legislation found it to mainly benefit middle and low-income households and suggests it could considerably reduce poverty in the country. The non-partisan Urban Institute projected that the bill would reduce the annual poverty rate to 8.7% percent, as opposed to 13.7% without the legislation.
President Joe Biden also set a goal for his 100 days to vaccinate 100 million Americans and succeeded in doing so in only 58 days.
Nonetheless, while he is off to a good start, he still has a range of complex challenges ahead.
On the foreign policy front, he still has to reverse the empty chair policy approach adopted by Donald Trump during his presidency and regain the US’ place on the international stage. His ambition to rejoin the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal is paved with impediments. His decision to launch air strikes in Syria without consulting the Congress has been largely criticized by both Republicans and Democrats.
Moreover, a surge in migrants at the American order is complicating Biden’s pledge to have a more humane approach regarding immigation matters than Trump. He already received backlash for his decision to reunite children who came to the US without their parents with them.
However, in spite of the complex issues ahead, recent polling shows that for now, a majority of Americans (around 53% according to FivethirtyEight) approve of Biden.