After a gruelling election, President Joe Biden was finally inaugurated on Wednesday 20th January 2021. Hitting the ground running, Biden was a force of nature in his first day within the White House, with at least 17 executive orders and a range of new domestic and international policies.
With an executive order for America to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and the placement of a moratorium on oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, his immediate work on reversing the damaging effects of his predecessor’s climate beliefs has been wildly praised. Many are viewing the President’s prompt action as a sign of a brighter future ahead for the country, but has Biden’s presidency thus been as successful as it may seem?
Inevitably, COVID was the main focus of the President’s initial work. In a letter to UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, the President revoked the United States’ July 2020 intended withdrawal from the World Health Organization, as well as going on to create a new presidential appointee role, the COVID-19 Response Coordinator.
it still seems incredibly inefficient when viewed in the context of other countries’ fight against the virus
This role will hopefully see a much more targeted response to the pandemic moving forward, with a focus on national vaccine distribution.
Furthermore, he also announced a new executive order for school and business reopening plans, the expansion of testing and even an executive order mandating mask-wearing on federal grounds. Though refreshing after Trump’s quite scary lack of action towards the pandemic, it still seems incredibly inefficient when viewed in the context of other countries’ fight against the virus.
Whilst the debate on student debt and rent payments rages on in the UK, American’s too are facing a similar issue. In a recent statement, Biden made claims that not only backtracked massively on his original standpoint regarding student loans but also reeked of underlying classism.
his most recent statements seem to totally ignore the plight of working-class students
Arguing that money would be better spent on early childhood students instead of debt cancellation, he also claimed that he wouldn’t want to cancel student debt for those attending elite, ivy league colleges.
Hiding behind the support of $10,000 loan forgiveness and a commitment to free tuition at community colleges, his most recent statements seem to totally ignore the plight of working-class students already struggling to pay their way through the elite colleges they fought to attend.
Immediately causing uproar amongst younger Democrats, with #cancelstudentdebt trending on Twitter within hours, fellow Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made her arguments clear. She took to Twitter claiming Biden’s “case against student loan forgiveness is looking shakier by the day”, going on to argue that not only should it not matter what school someone goes to, but that funding for early childhood education should not be pitted against student loan forgiveness as “We can have both”.
A major factor affecting Biden’s presidency will be his party’s current position within the senate. After the victories of Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Georgia, the Democrats managed to narrowly reclaim some form of control within the chamber. The current 50/50 divide is rare, only happening three times in American history, and the Democratic control exists only through the Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris.
In such exceptional circumstances, every senate vote has the potential to be a tiebreaker, and the effect this will have on the future work of the Biden-Harris presidency has yet to be seen.
Overall, whilst his work within his Presidency so far has been inspiring, it has left many American’s massively disappointed. Fighting an election on what many are now considering empty promises, Biden will have to step up his work in order to retain the support of Democrats nationwide, as well as to earn the respect of those who ‘settled for Biden’.
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