11 Things that Joe Biden Can Do to Restore Integrity, Fairness, & Competency to Government
Activists from across the ideological spectrum and with a variety of agendas are now encouraging President-elect Joe Biden to act quickly on issues closest to their heart. Biden should be careful not to employ a scattershot approach during his first weeks in office and focus on a handful of topics that Americans can easily relate to. A president's initial acts are often the ones that citizens remember and he can use his first months in office to craft a moderate progressive agenda with broad public support.
1. Pandemic: Signal a dramatic change in the federal government's pandemic response by actually having a coherent and consistent strategy. As Biden has stated, he should focus on three goals in his first 100 days as he addresses the crisis — “masking, vaccinations, opening schools.” He should also keep health professionals front and center and maintain a consistent message across all government agencies.
2. Economic Stimulus: Push Mitch McConnell to pass a broad economic aid and stimulus package to reignite the economy. This one will take Senate approval so it will require every ounce of Joe Biden's and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's skills. Yellen had broad public support as Chairperson for the Federal Reserve, so she should be the point person for this initiative.
3. Immigration: End the Muslin travel ban, prioritize the reunification of children still separated from their parents at the border, and fully reinstate the DACA program that protects children brought to America as minors. And, while there will be construction contracts to untangle, announce an end to Trump's border wall.
4. Ethics: Issue an "ethics pledge" that imposes tough new standards on government officials to ensure that they do not profit from their positions. And, sign an executive order stating that no member of the administration will influence Justice Department investigations.
5. Foreign Policy & America's Alliances: Biden should stay focused on domestic issues during his first months in office, but he should send both John Kerry, his new Climate Envoy, and Secretary of State, Antony Blinken to meet with allies in Europe and Asia to discuss ways that we can cooperate to address the climate, China and Iran, among other pressing global challenges. Biden should also signal that the United States is again ready to lead and that Trump's chaotic and self-defeating "America Alone" strategy has been jettisoned to the trash bin of history...where it belongs.
6. Racial Justice: In the end, the states will largely determine what should be done to reform America's policing and criminal justice systems, but Biden can signal quickly that the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is back in business to investigate misconduct among the nation's police departments, both by individual officers and patterns of misconduct. So, Biden's pick for Attorney General to replace William Barr may be his most important cabinet selection.
7. Environment: Rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement & Signal that the Environmental Protection Agency will begin the process of reinstituting regulations resulting from President Obama's Clean Power Plan including fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks, limits on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and power plant carbon emission limits.
8. Student Loans: The plan advocated by some progressives to forgive up to $50,000 in student loan debt won't do much to stimulate the economy and mainly helps those with bright economic futures. Instead, suspend repayment on federal student loans and the accrual of interest for an additional year, and allow the former students to refinance their college debt at today’s much lower interest rates. And then, after that initial year, suspend repayment and interest accrual for individuals making $35,000 or less per year.
9. Transgender Rights: End Trump's transgender military ban & restore transgender students’ rights. Trump's edicts were nothing more than sops to his Evangelical base and his transgender military ban harmed military readiness.
10. WHO: Immediately reverse Trump’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization and provide promised annual funding. His withdrawal was simply a publicity stunt to conceal his many failures in dealing with the Covid crisis and the WHO will play an integral role in ending the pandemic in the developing world.
11. Family Planning: revoke the global gag rule, which prohibits federal funding for foreign family planning and maternal health organizations that provide or even mention abortion. Recent studies have demonstrated that it actually increases the number of abortions in the developing world by reducing access to contraception.
Yes, there is much more to be done, but unless Democrats can win both Senate seats in Georgia, Biden will have to govern by executive order, and that's tricky, especially considering the current make up of the Supreme Court.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content