President Joe Biden enters his 100th day in office Thursday having checked off a number of commitments to try to rein in the coronavirus and institute his ‘build back better’ economic plan – even while struggling to set forth his immigration agenda amid a surge at the border.
Biden organized his campaign around a pledge to focus on the coronavirus with a campaign to heal the ‘soul of the nation’ with a focus on racial justice and economic inequality.
And while he was occasionally thrown off course by foreign policy and immigration in particular, Biden returned to the virus whenever possible – as he planned to do Tuesday with yet another speech on the nation’s response.
Biden exceeded his goal of getting 100 million shots into Americans’ arms – but has fallen short of some of his immigration pledges
Introduces immigration plan with path to citizenship but faces record migrant surge the border
It is on immigration where Biden has visibly struggled to implement his policies while facing political problems seeking to contend with the crisis at the southern border. The setbacks have had outsized influence in part because they have provided fuel to critics and occasionally thrown Biden off his preferred message of focusing on his efforts to stem the virus.
Biden followed through on a pledge to introduce legislation with a pathway to citizenship for millions of estimated illegal immigrants – but getting it enacted is another matter.
His push to provide permanent protections for so-called DACA recipients faces a court challenge.
He promised to stop child separation at the border, but the administration has still faced a surge of unaccompanied minors. The administration has admitted it is not always able to keep up with a law mandating transfer of immigrants out of Customs and Border Protection Custody to Health and Human Services Department custody
The crush has been such that the administration has asked for volunteers for other agencies, put migrants in hotels, and reopened a tent-type facility used during the Trump administration.
His administration faced blowback when it left intact a Trump administration 15,000 cap for refugees, then moved off it. Biden had planned on 62,500.
He has gotten rid of a Trump administration policy of having asylum-seekers wait in Mexico. But he has kept in place a Trump policy that uses the pandemic as a justification for expelling people. He and Vice President Kamala Harris have pledged to focus on ‘root causes’ driving the surge in migration Central American countries.
But in a sign of how charged the issue is, neither has yet to visit the border for a look since taking office.
Biden has stopped new border wall funding, to the consternation of former President Trump, although work is continuing for sections where contracts were already out.
Sometimes, courts have gotten the way of his plans, as with Biden’s freeze on deportations for 100 days.
In this March 30, 2021, file photo, young unaccompanied migrants, from ages 3 to 9, watch television inside a playpen at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley, in Donna, Texas. For the third time in seven years, U.S. officials are scrambling to handle a dramatic spike in children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border alone
Biden has stopped new border wall funding, to the consternation of former President Trump, although work is continuing for sections where contracts were already out
Effort to control coronavirus with vaccine shots and masks
Biden has delivered on his pledge to get 100 million shots vaccine shots into Americans’ arms – doubling up the amount to 200 before hitting the date.
His team has deployed the Defense Production Act, pushed out vaccines through a nationwide pharmacy program, and worked with manufacturers to procure sufficient vaccine.
Critics have posited that Biden deliberately tamped down his goal to make it achievable, but the country has overcome setbacks nonetheless to hit a consistent mark of 3 million shots per day during peak distribution. The country now has enough vaccine on-hand that it was able to overcome a setback with Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, and an contemplate shipping out Astra Zeneca doses that have not yet been approved for use in other countries.
Biden issued a federal mask mandate as he said he would, and sought to set an example with his own mask usage – even donning one during a zoom meeting with world leaders who were thousands of miles away during a climate summit.
It remains to be seen how successful the administration can be overcoming vaccine ‘hesitancy,’ having committed billions to a PR campaign. The administration has boosted access to testing, and is using funds from a $1.9 trillion coronavirus package Biden pushed through to increase DNA analysis to track virus variants.
Biden has said masks should not be a political statement, but mandates have drawn vocal opposition in viral town hall meetings and a prime time rant Monday where Tucker Carlson compared child mask wearing to ‘abuse.’
Biden set a goal of having half of K-8 schools open in his hundred days, and the administration says it is on track to meet the goal. Biden’s team touted new three-foot social distancing guidance as a tool for reopening despite resistance from teachers’ unions on reopening amid virus variants.
More than 200 million Americans have received coronavirus vaccine shots
Gets his $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan through Congress as economy sees job and stock gains
It won’t be known for some time whether Biden can fulfill many of his top economic promises. He has taken early executive actions to set the tone – pushing through major programs in his $1.9 trillion coronavirus package and pitching others to Congress and the nation.
The market has been on a tear throughout his term, brushing off ongoing Wall Street worries about the impact of his proposed tax hikes as the overall economy rebounded.
The S&P 500 is up about 24 per cent since Biden took office, exceeding the 11 per cent boom of Trump’s first hundred days (Trump repeatedly insisted he deserved credit for stock gains from the day after the election).
The economy added a robust 900,000 jobs in a March, even with millions still facing unemployment amid pandemic fallout.
Biden has made efforts to roll back Trump’s tax cuts. He is proposing a corporate tax hike to fund his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, although his pitch for a 28 per cent bracket has already encountered resistance. The administration is leaning in to a proposed hike in the capital gains rate for those earning more than $1 million a year – but its fate also is uncertain.
Getting those tax hikes through the 50-50 Senate will be a challenge, and though Biden has met his promise of seeking to lower the temperature and make outreach to Republicans, there are no signs yet that a group of relative GOP moderates would go along with his tax and spending plans.
Biden got the $2,000 direct payments to Americans he was seeking. But part of it came in $600 payments to taxpayers before he took office. His coronavirus bill included $1,400 payments, but that happened under ‘reconciliation’ legislation without GOP support.
His coronavirus law also extended unemployment, with millions of Americans still off work rolls, and Biden has also taken executive actions like one to pause student debt payments.
Guns and racial justice
Mass shootings have returned as a national phenomenon. Biden has spoken about the toll of these events, but has been unable to get Congress to act on his call for expanded background checks and an assault weapons ban.
He hasn’t yet directed the FBI to issue a report on delays in background checks on gun purchases.
Biden spoke to the nation after a jury convicted Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd. Lawmakers from the two parties have yet to reach agreement on a legislative response that could clear the Senate.
The White House has abandoned the idea of a police oversight board, saying there are other mechanisms for it. Biden hasn’t yet gotten Congress to extend the Voting Rights Act.
Minorities and women have suffered an outsized share of job losses during the pandemic.
On another rights issue, Biden has ended Trump’s ban on military service for transgender people.
People hold placards as they protest outside of the Courthouse during the trial of former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 19, 2021. Biden spoke to the nation after the jury reached its guilty verdict