Robert Reich: ‘The biggest potential disaster? Voting rights’
Six months in, it looks like Joe Biden has a good chance of getting America back to where it was before the pandemic. Covid-19 is in retreat. So far, almost half of the adult population has been fully vaccinated. The economy is roaring back – still 7m jobs short of where it was in January 2020 but on track to return to the starting gate by the end of the year. Biden’s “American Rescue Plan” is a major success.
But it’s not clear Biden will get America back to where it was before Trump. His initial slew of executive orders erased most of Trump’s executive orders, but he hasn’t yet demolished all of Trump’s cruel immigration policies. Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric is gone but Biden hasn’t repaired relations with China. Many of Trump’s tariffs are still in place. And even with a bare Democratic majority in the US Senate, there’s little chance Congress will repeal all of Trump’s tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.
What about Biden’s big plans to remake America? Depending on your point of view, they’re either on hold or stalled. He’ll likely get bipartisan support for over half a trillion dollars of new spending for “hard” infrastructure. That’s not nothing. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess what Senate Democrats will agree to on legislation covering childcare, the environment, and healthcare and education that can circumvent a Republican filibuster
Bhaskar Sunkara: ‘Biden is thinking big – but hasn’t delivered yet’
The good news is that six months into the Joe Biden administration, he’s delivered on one of his main campaign pitches and restored a sense of “normalcy” to the country. After four years of mercurial rule by Donald Trump, the White House has become a more predictable place.
That’s the bad news too. Since the old “normal” wasn’t delivering for millions of working-class Americans.
Biden has shown a willingness to think big, but he hasn’t delivered on structural reforms like a $15 minimum wage and a Pro Act meant to help restore trade union density. He’s institutionally constrained by hostile forces within his own party and has been forced to make do with a slim congressional majority, but unless he finds a way to use his political power to overcome some of those barriers, he’ll find himself in an even more difficult position after the 2022 midterm elections.
Kate Aronoff: ‘Biden needs to act on climate now’
Joe Biden is not in an enviable position. Besides a Republican party hell bent on stopping any good things from happening, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – both of them right-leaning Democrats – can decide on whatever makes it through a 50-50 senate. Biden’s American Jobs Plan is drastically out of step with what the climate crisis demands, but even that faces major headwinds within our antebellum political system all but built to keep public opinion – that supports a Green New Deal and stricter regulations – from being translated into law.
Whatever happens in Congress, though, Biden has a range of as-of-yet unexplored tools at his disposal to start reducing emissions tomorrow. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Federal Reserve – which jointly regulate the banking sector – could raise capital requirements for institutions that invest in fossil fuels, helping stem the flow of Wall Street cash into coal, oil and gas. By declaring a climate emergency, Biden could reinstate the ban on crude oil exports, which have ballooned by 750% since rules restricting them were quietly peeled back in 2015. Ending drilling on federal lands – well within the purview of the Interior Department – could eliminate a quarter of US emission.
‘We’re going to get this done’: Biden on Capitol Hill to push infrastructure package – live