What Can We Expect from the Biden Presidency?

Gwen Aviles
·8-min read
Photo credit: Sean Rayford - Getty Images
Photo credit: Sean Rayford - Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

After an emotional and stressful week of waiting for the U.S. presidential results to be announced, former vice president Joe Biden has been declared the president-elect. But what will Biden actually do when he’s in office?

The 46th president has announced ambitious plans throughout his campaign, ranging from healthcare to criminal justice. Below you’ll find a primer on his plans to address 10 of the country’s most pressing issues. Click each section title for Biden's full proposals.

Healthcare

Amid a global pandemic that has killed more than 230,000 Americans, healthcare has never seemed like a more urgent issue. Biden, who was vice president during the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), says he’ll build upon the landmark legislation to ensure that more Americans have access to healthcare. In expanding the ACA, Biden says he will give Americans the choice to purchase a public service health care plan. He has also pledged to lower premiums and broaden coverage of lower-income Americans by ensuring that states expand Medicare eligibility.

Biden stated that he’ll take prescription drug companies to task by ending their tax breaks for advertisement spending and limiting price increases on prescription drugs to ensure they’re not exploitative. He says he’ll also expand federal funding for mental health services and substance use disorder services and research.

COVID-19

The current administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been heavily criticized, but Biden says his plan will place science and health experts at the forefront. He is expected to announce a coronavirus task force on Monday, according to The Washington Post.

"On Monday, I will name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisers to help take the Biden-Harris COVID plan and convert it into an action blueprint that starts on Jan. 20, 2021," the president-elect said in his victory speech on Saturday. "That plan will be built on a bedrock of science. It will be constructed out of compassion, empathy, and concern."

“I’ll reach out to every governor in every state, red and blue, as well as mayors and local officials, during the transition, to find out what support they need and how much of it they need,” Biden also said during a recent speech at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, per CNBC. “I’ll ask the new Congress to put a bill on my desk by the end of January with all the resources necessary, so that both our public health response and our economic response can be seen through to the end.”

Beyond the task force, Biden’s plan includes making testing widely available and free, releasing a daily public White House report on the country’s current cases, expanding surveillance testing, providing healthcare and frontline workers with adequate personal protective equipment, and accelerating the development of treatment and vaccines.

Gender Equality

For every dollar a man makes, the average woman makes 82 cents—while Black women earn 62 cents, Native women earn 57 cents, and Latinas earn 54 cents, according to the National Women’s Law Center. Biden says he plans on addressing the gender wage gap by supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would eliminate loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, prohibit employers from screening applicants based on their salary history, and require employers to prove that pay disparities exist for legitimate reasons having to do with a worker’s job description.

Biden has also committed to monetarily supporting women-owned businesses as well as restoring the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which guarantees equal legal rights for all Americans regardless of sex and would explicitly address gender equality in the Constitution for the first time. He has co-sponsored the ERA nine times.

Reproductive Rights

Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court recently sparked an onslaught of questions about the future of Roe v. Wade. Biden says that under his administration, he’d work to strengthen the landmark legislation and work to prevent state laws that violate it. He would also restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood and reinstate the ACA’s contraception mandate before the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling, which decided that employers don't have to require insurance coverage for birth control if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement

Biden has said during a presidential debate that he opposes defunding the police. Instead, the president-elect has pledged to place a greater focus on prevention rather than incarceration. As president, he says he will establish a $20 billion competitive grant program for states so that they may be able to address some of the factors that lead to crime. Biden will also collaborate with the U.S. Department of Justice to “address systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices,” expand financial resources for prosecutorial offices so that defendants may be subject to adequate counsel, and eliminate mandatory minimums and the death penalty, per his plan.

While some states have already legalized marijuana, Biden says he would decriminalize the use of cannabis and expunge all prior cannabis use convictions nationally. Similarly, Biden added that he will expand funding for drug courts so that individuals will not be incarcerated for drug use alone and will have greater access to the resources they may need to address their substance use disorder.

LGBTQ+ Rights

In acknowledging that the LGBTQ+ community currently have inadequate civil rights protections, Biden has promised to support the Equality Act, a bill that would ban discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, education, and federal programs.

“I will make enactment of the Equality Act a top legislative priority during my first 100 days—a priority that Donald Trump opposes,” Biden told Philadelphia Gay News, in October. “This is essential to ensuring that no future president can ever again roll back civil rights and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, including when it comes to housing.”

He told the newspaper that he would support passage of the Ruthie and Connor Elder Americans Act, which updates the Older Americans Act to ensure that LGBTQ+ seniors receive adequate support and services.

Biden has also said that he will nominate and appoint federal judges who will work to protect LGBTQ+ civil rights, reverse the transgender military ban, and direct resources to end the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color. According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 34 transgender or gender non-conforming people were killed in 2020, the majority of whom were Black and Latinx transgender women.

Environment

From deadly hurricanes to wildfires, climate change is increasingly posing an existential threat worldwide. In an attempt to tackle these serious environmental issues, Biden plans to work towards a 100 percent clean energy economy in the U.S. by enacting legislation that invests in this area and incentivizing clean energy initiatives across the country. He will also re-enter the Paris Agreement, a global pact to combat global warming. The U.S. withdrew from the agreement in 2017.

Immigration

Biden promises to end prolonged detention of migrants and reform the current case management system. He will also reverse the public charge rule, which allows immigration officials to consider whether a person may be likely to depend on government services when deciding whether they should be granted a green card or visa, according to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and reinstate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which granted undocumented youth who came to the U.S. as children protection from deportation and a renewable work permit.

Biden has also pledged to end the so-called national emergency, which has been used as justification to use Department of Defense funds to build a wall at the Mexico-U.S. border.

Economy

Biden says one of his first courses of action as president to restore the economy, which has taken a hit because of the coronavirus, would be to support small businesses through government aid. He plans to also enforce oversight of larger corporations seeking taxpayer assistance to ensure that the money goes towards their workers.

Biden says he’d also work to pass another relief plan that would provide additional funds to families in need, forgive a minimum of $10,000 in student loans, and increase monthly social security checks by $200 per month as seniors and those with disabilities are especially vulnerable during the pandemic.

Gun Safety

Biden also plans to champion gun safety during his presidency. Among his plans include repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a 2005 bill that shields gun manufacturers from liability if crimes have been committed with their products, and reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, a bill which would close the “boyfriend loophole” and “stalking loophole” which allow those with previously demonstrated histories of abuse to obtain firearms. He has also promised to repeal the “Charleston loophole,” which allows people to purchase firearms if their background check has not been completed within three days. The loophole was named as such because it allowed Dylann Roof to purchase the gun he then used to kill nine people at a predominantly Black church in 2015.

Biden has also pledged to end the online sale of firearms and ammunition, which often do not require background checks, and to provide states with grants to require individuals to undergo a background check before purchasing firearms.

You Might Also Like