Thoughts & Essays

Biden’s First Steps

For the past 4-5 years, I woke up every morning and immediately grabbed my phone to see what had blown up overnight thanks to Trump’s incompetency. I didn’t have to do that this morning, and I gotta tell you, that was pretty goddamn amazing. It’s been nice the last couple of weeks, waking up in the morning and not having to dread what that fool crapped out on Twitter overnight.

Let’s keep that up. Trump should be left, sullen and silenced, to rot into irrelevance in Florida. I don’t know if we’ll actually get that privilege. I’m not sure if the media is capable of ignoring Trump. I hope they are.

To kick off his presidency, Biden signed 15 executive orders and two executive actions yesterday. They included:

  • 100 day masking challenge
  • Restructure the government’s COVID-19 response
  • Rejoin the WHO
  • Extend eviction and foreclosure moratoriums
  • Extend student loan payment pause
  • Rejoin the Paris Climate Accord
  • Stop the Keystone XL pipeline
  • Advance racial equity in government
  • Count non-citizens in the census again
  • Strengthen workplace discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Calling on Congress to give permanent status and a path to citizenship to Dreamers
  • End the Muslim travel ban
  • Change ICE’s arrest priorities
  • Stop construction on the wall
  • Keep the deportation protections for a group of Liberians in the US (Not actually sure what this is about – gonna need to do some reading on that one.)
  • Freezing Trump’s last-minute regulatory actions
  • Ethics pledge for the executive branch

Biden’s Day Two plans include a bunch of executive orders regarding the government’s COVID-19 response. Stuff like enacting the Defense Production Act to get PPE, testing, and vaccine supplies up to snuff, getting FEMA to reimburse states for their vaccination plans, requiring masks to travel, studies and trials for COVID-19 treatments, generating more public data on COVID-19 cases and vaccinations, guidance for reopening schools, OSHA guidance for workplaces, and a COVID-19 equity taskforce to enforce fairness for communities who were underserved in the COVID-19 response under Trump.

Not that there was any COVID-19 response from the Trump administration to begin with. Biden’s COVID-19 taskforce went to assess Trump’s vaccination plan and discovered there wasn’t one. Like, at all. This is one of those things where you’re like, “Well, of course there wasn’t, Trump clearly gave no fucks at all and wasn’t doing anything,” but also you’re kind of shocked that Trump didn’t even bother to make a “hungover college student who didn’t do the assignment and so faked together some bad BS at the very last second” type of plan.

So, a lot of this is a decent start. I don’t love that everything here is done by executive action. Presidents in recent years have gotten into the habit of rule-by-executive-action, and I’m not a fan, but since Congress has been so utterly dysfunctional for the last few decades, I also don’t see an easy way around it.

Changing ICE’s arrest priorities is one thing, but I want those bastards disbanded. There’s no salvaging that operation. The Department of Homeland Security should also be disbanded, and policing in America needs to be completely re-imagined from the ground up. The concentration camps on our southern border need to be shut down, and families need to be reunited. We’ve got to get all those kids we stole found and returned to their families, and while Biden’s working on the concentration camps, I haven’t heard much about reunification. Or any kind of reparations for what we did to those people. The Trump administration caused generational trauma and damage there, and it’s our responsibility to redress that.

I mean, I guess it’s Day Two and I should probably give Biden a minute to get shit together, but it’s been a bad four years and I’m not feeling particularly patient.

Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell is McConnelling in the Senate, by which I mean he’s doing his usual and stonewalling everything. He wants a promise from Schumer to not get rid of the legislative filibuster, in return for finalizing the power-sharing agreements that are necessary to run a 50-50 Senate. Which, 🙄, sure. Apparently the Democrats are fixing to tell McConnell to go pound sand, which is good and right, but it’s still gonna slow things down in the Senate.

Same shit, different day, when it comes to McConnell.

To wrap things up with some good news, researchers who are tracking COVID-19 cases are saying that the holiday surge has peaked, and new cases are beginning to decline again. We might see more surges, especially since those more contagious strains of COVID-19 are circulating in the US, but for now, cases are on the decline.

Featured image: Joe Biden, by Gage Skidmore, (CC BY-SA 2.0).