by Katherine Morrissey ’22
Joseph Biden, Jr., ran a successful campaign grounded on a platform that aligned itself with the Democratic Party’s core beliefs, ultimately resulting in his inauguration as the 46th president of the United States.
The significance of an administration’s first 100 days in office dates back to the incredible feats accomplished by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the start of his presidency in 1933. In the wake of the Great Depression, Roosevelt inherited a country in economic tatters with nearly a quarter of the nation unemployed following the stock market crash of late 1929. However, Roosevelt did not let the circumstances delay implementing his progressive agenda to help combat the economic and social effects of the Great Depression through the passage of 15 bills.
After being sworn in on Jan. 20, President Biden inherited a United States in a period of distress, much like President Roosevelt did in 1933. However, many would argue that President Biden has perhaps inherited circumstances that are far more unprecedented.
Within the last year, according to the New York Times, over 400,000 Americans have lost their lives during the nation’s struggle to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the pandemic has had detrimental effects on the country’s economic performance.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the United States experienced two consecutive quarters of decline in gross domestic product, indicative of a recession. Furthermore, it recorded a decrease of 9.1 percent in the second quarter of 2020. This marked the country’s starkest quarterly drop of economic output in recorded history—quarterly GDP has been recorded since 1947 and has never exceeded a drop of more than three percent throughout various recessions.
Given that the nation is faced with such dire circumstances as a result of the ongoing pandemic, a large part of President Biden’s agenda for the beginning of his administration involves taking swift action to combat the ongoing public health and economic crises. While President Biden has made significant promises to combat COVID-19, he also plans to make good on other pledges he made during his campaign regarding other key issues. For example, he has promised to send a bill to Congress which would be for “legislative immigration reform that will modernize our immigration system and give nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants a roadmap to citizenship.”
In regard to the climate and environmental concerns of the country, President Biden promised to sign two executive orders. The first will create a plan to reach a one hundred percent clean energy economy and net-zero emissions by 2050. The next would look “to conserve 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030.”
On the note of civil rights, President Biden promised to repeal the Trump-era military ban on transgender individuals and restore the protections and provisions of the Obama administration concerning transgender rights.
Additionally, President Biden signed executive orders that included rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, launching a “100 day mask challenge,” extending student loan pause, launching a Whole-of-Government Initiative to Advance Racial Equity, halting construction of the southern border wall, restoring protection of DREAMers, reversing the Muslim ban, and ensuring worker protections by mandating that employees follow CDC guidelines.
While many frequently criticize Biden for his centrist or moderate beliefs amongst his Democratic constituents, these actions taken on his first day in office actually demonstrate his commitment to following through on a progressive agenda, regardless of the tumultuous times our country is enduring.
Going forward, Americans can expect the Biden Administration to continue to be aggressive in attempting to implement the policies they promised on the campaign trail, as well as in reversing Trump-era policies.
The administration is currently working with Congress to reach a compromise to provide greater economic relief to citizens through another round of stimulus checks.
Although the circumstances are different, the legacy of President Roosevelt’s first 100 days in the Oval Office seems to be shaping the Biden Administration’s approach to office as Biden optimistically attempts to steer the United States out of a historically challenging period and into one of hope and prosperity.