President Joe Biden enters office with the United States of America facing many crises, both domestic and foreign. The most pressing issues require the president’s attention from his first day in the White House. Four main crises are top priorities for the Biden administration during his first hundred days in the White House: containing the spread of COVID-19, addressing the economic impacts of the pandemic, climate change, and racial justice. These issues can be summed up as follows:
1- Addressing the growing COVID-19 pandemic: Handling the spread of COVID-19 is one of the most important domestic challenges facing President Biden. In this regard, he intends to impose a mask mandate during his first hundred days in power, administer 100 million doses of the vaccine, increase funding for mobile clinics and testing laboratories, launch campaigns to educate citizens about the dangers of the virus and ways to prevent it, and address individual doubts about the safety of the vaccine. Biden also announced that he would use the Defense Production Act to produce more vaccines in cooperation with private companies.
2- Rescuing the American economy: Before taking the oath of office on January 20, Biden announced a USD 1.9 trillion rescue plan to address the economic impacts of COVID-19. He noted that the investments expected to restart the American economy have two benefits: the first is to strengthen the United States’ position as a global power in the long term, and the second is the president’s commitment to preserving and caring for the American people.
3- Urgent relief package for those affected by COVID-19: Biden stressed his goal of passing a third relief package of USD 2000—an increase of USD 1400 over the last package of USD 600—to address the consequences of COVID-19. The bailout also includes raising the minimum wage to USD 15 an hour, which is more than double the current federal rate of USD 7.25 an hour. Moving forward with this plan will require congressional approval.
4- Creating new job opportunities: Biden takes over the presidency with unemployment at an all-time high, and he could take advantage of the need to modernize infrastructure in order to create new jobs. Biden has said he wants to create an expected million new health-related jobs whose main function is to test people for COVID-19, thus providing the ability to track and limit its spread. This measure also requires congressional approval.
5- Reducing federal student loan debt: Biden has said he will issue an executive order granting each student borrower USD 10,000. By doing so, Biden aims to support students’ ability to obtain college loans without further burdens.
6- Increasing unemployment benefits: Biden hopes to increase unemployment benefits from USD 300 to USD 400 per week. The increases will start once the current benefits expire in March, and the new increase will continue until September 2021.
7- Helping low-income people: Biden will allocate USD 5 billion to the states to provide emergency housing for individuals and USD 30 billion to help low-income people who are unable to pay rent and utilities. He will also extend the eviction ban.
8- Child Tax Credit amendments: Biden has suggested making the Child Tax Credit refundable so that low- or middle-income families can get their money back during 2021.
9- Reforming the tax system: Biden has laid out a plan to increase the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and raise taxes on Americans who earn more than $400,000 a year. He also plans to increase the amount of some tax credits, such as the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child and Dependent Care Credit. This step requires congressional approval.
10- Strengthening Obamacare: Biden aims to insure nearly 15-20 million uninsured people and decrease the price of medicine, along with other health care measures. Biden also intends to protect Obamacare from Republicans’ attempts to repeal it in the future, as they did during the Trump administration.
11- Reforming the criminal justice system: In response to the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement, Biden is expected to seek passage of the SAFE Justice Act to reform the criminal justice and prison system and take measures to prevent recidivism.
12- Repealing Trump’s immigration policies: On his first day in office, Biden sent a bill to Congress to settle the legal status of illegal immigrants through a plan outlining their path to US citizenship. Biden is expected to work to reform the US asylum system and order a halt to funding for construction of the remainder of the border wall with Mexico.
13- Lifting the travel ban on certain Muslim countries: On the first day of his presidency, Biden agreed to cancel Trump’s travel ban and the US entry restrictions imposed on some Muslim-majority countries, with the goal of ending the debate over the relationship between the United States and some Muslim countries and restoring America’s place in the world order.
14- Strengthening relations with NATO members: Biden indicated his desire to shore up relations with NATO members during his first hundred days in office, as well as to promote dialogue with allies to restore confidence in the US and revitalize the alliance.
15- Restoring membership in international organizations and agreements: On his first day in office, Biden reactivated US membership in international organizations. He rescinded Trump’s decisions to withdraw from the World Health Organization and the Paris Agreement on climate change, thus re-engaging the US in the international order.
Overall, during his first hundred days, Biden is expected to focus on fighting the spread of COVID-19 and addressing its economic impacts by presenting a rescue plan, increasing available job opportunities, passing a third relief package for individuals, and moving forward on achieving racial justice, reforming the tax and criminal justice systems, and working to reverse some of Trump’s immigration policies.