North Texas Daily

What Biden has done and what he needs to do

What Biden has done and what he needs to do

What Biden has done and what he needs to do
February 04
10:00 2021

In the wake of the Trump administration, an outside perspective on our federal government is  for lack of a better word  bleak. COVID-19 seems to be only getting worse, there have been multiple protests against police violence and public, outspoken white supremacy is on the rise. 

For many, the election and inauguration of Joe Biden is a sign that things may be about to get better. Upon taking office, President Biden has made a point of publicly flexing the powers of the executive in rolling back Trump-era rules. From reversing the ban on travel from majority muslim countries to rejoining the World Health Organization (WHO), Biden seems to be on the right track. However, are the actions President Biden is taking strong enough to get our country through this dark time?

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. It’s a problem that many college-aged people are familiar with, and “climate dread” seems to leech its way into everyday interactions. Activism and the demand for action on climate change has been growing steadily in the past five years, and faced much resistance from the Trump administration. Biden’s presidency has a huge opportunity to meet his climate-concerned citizens at the drawing table and prepare for structural change to mitigate the climate crisis as effectively as possible.

On this effort, Biden has already made some impressive executive orders. He re-entered the United States into the Paris Climate Accords, and just recently canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline, which had the possibility of gravely damaging the areas of the midwest that it was running through with its high chance of spills

Both of these actions are good and necessary, but President Biden has the ability to do more. For the past two years, a Green New Deal has only grown in popularity among both elected officials and the general public. Biden has the ability as president to call for congress to enact a Green New Deal, and if the Democrats in congress can present a united front, they can pass legislation to sign a Green New Deal into law, thus taking a big first step into protecting our future.

One of the most prevalent political events this year has been the protests against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd. Biden has made some material advancements through executive orders, the most impressive of which has been his ordering of the Department of Justice to no longer renew contracts with private prisons as part of a push for racial equity.

This is a huge step in the right direction, as private prisons often cut corners, and treat their inmates — who are majority Black and brown — even worse than prisons owned and operated by the state.

I believe that the Biden administration can go further. State and local police departments receive funding grants every year from the DOJ. These grants go to finance new militarized equipment and pay for litigation over police killings. If the federal government stopped funding local police departments, then they would have less ability to militarize their forces and meet citizens at the local level.

With regards to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Biden has enacted some symbolic measures, as well as some material ones. The US has rejoined the WHO, and there is soon going to be a full time COVID-19 Response coordinator at the White House. In terms of things that have more than a symbolic effect, President Biden has also requested the eviction moratorium last until at least March 31st, and paused student loan payments, keeping the interest at zero percent so those with student debt don’t have to choose between paying rent and paying their student loans.

While these executive orders are important, it is even more important that the president implements $2,000 monthly checks to everyone in the country. This is not up for debate. People are choosing between their health and their rent, and that should not be happening in the wealthiest country in the world. 

To close out, I want to remind readers that the majority of Biden’s executive orders from his first week in office has been overturning Trump-era rules. The reason President Biden was able to do this was because Trump did not pass many of his executive orders into law. Biden has the ability to make great strides as a president, but only if he uses his majority in both chambers of Congress to sign structural change into the law of the land. If the Democrats lose either the House or the Senate in 2022, or the presidency in 2024, then any action Biden takes right now will have been for nothing, so now is the time.

Featured Illustration by Olivia Varnell 

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Javi Cavazos Weems

Javi Cavazos Weems

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