EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
President Biden’s first 10 days in office featured a blizzard of executive orders. As expected, most reversed various Trump catastrophes: rejoining both the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organization, terminating the building of the border wall, scrapping the Muslim entry ban, and more. Given the new president’s past preference for compromise over boldness, one might have expected him to be content with a mere restoration of the status quo at the end of the Obama presidency. Surprisingly, however, in his first 10 days, Biden has demonstrated that he intends to be a transformative, not a transitional president—launching initiatives that go beyond those of the Obama era. At long last, a Democratic president is declaring that the era of small government is over.
First out of the box is the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal. In its scope and scale, Biden’s plan reflects the threat that the coronavirus poses to lives and livelihoods and the need for the federal government to act on a grand scale, unconstrained by anxieties about deficits or inflation.
Its first priority is public health: putting resources into vaccinations and the deployment of 100,000 public health workers, reaching into low-income communities, nursing homes, jails, and prisons. The second priority is stanching the economic hemorrhaging. This includes essential support for state and local governments facing budget shortfalls that otherwise will cause them to lay off police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other civil servants. And Biden’s plan puts money into Americans’ pockets—$1,400 per person for most adults, grants to small businesses and aid for renters, plus a multiyear increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Third, the rescue package includes aid in areas vital to getting people back to work: resources for schools to reopen safely, money to keep public transit going, and child care tax credits so parents can return to their offices.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.