President Joe Biden: 100 days in

Patrick Kane, World News Editor

On April 30, President Joe Biden reached a milestone that marks success (or lack thereof) for every president: his 100th day in office. All things considered, the American people moderately approve of his tenure, as his average approval rating, at the time of this writing, is sitting at 53.4% while disapproval is just over 40%. 

Though this approval level is notably higher than his predecessor Donald Trump’s after 100 days, Biden’s rating is still low compared to previous presidents. With this in mind, I believe that Biden’s performance in various areas his first few months in office warrants discussion, with some praise and some condemnation.

One area Biden has made progress in over his first 100 days is health care. During the primaries, Biden ran as a staunch opponent of the “Medicare For All” universal healthcare plan championed by progressives. Instead, Biden campaigned on his promise to protect and build upon the Affordable Care Act. Since his inauguration, Biden has more or less stuck to his guns. In his initial COVID-19 stimulus, Democrats included huge subsidies for the ACA, as well as improved plans for state Medicaid expansion. Biden and the Democrats are working to include a passage in a new healthcare bill that would lower the age for Medicare eligibility. Now, while I would argue that Americans actually do, in fact, need a universal healthcare-type plan, I can come away and say that Biden has done fairly well in terms of healthcare.

Another area where Biden should receive ample praise is his COVID-19 response. The COVID-19 vaccine rollout, built upon Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, has been massively successful. At the time of this writing, over 100 million people in the United States have been fully vaccinated, with millions more having at least one shot. 

In addition to vaccines, Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus, which sent $1,400 to every eligible American, has been fairly successful thus far, and Biden is toying with the idea of another round. 

In addition, Biden has performed well regarding unions and organized labor. During the fight for unionization at a Bessemer, Alabama, Amazon facility (which unfortunately failed), Biden released a video supporting the picketers, marking the first time in the modern era when a sitting president actively spoke in favor of a major labor movement. He also has been supportive of the Protect the Right to Organize Act, or PRO Act, a sweeping pro-union bill currently stalled in the Senate. 

In addition, Biden has come out in favor of a $15 minimum wage. The latter may prove difficult, as a previous provision for a higher minimum wage to be included in the stimulus bill was defeated with help from some Democrats, including Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

In terms of the environment, Biden has exceeded initial expectations, in my opinion. In his first day in office, he reversed Trump’s controversial decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement. Additionally, Biden has also reversed many emissions policies put in place by the Trump administration. Biden indicated that he intends to take action regarding climate change, with or without Congress. During his first joint address to Congress, Biden argued that environmental action is an economic issue, which is a great way to frame the issue.

Please don’t mistake this writing as a Joe Biden puff piece. If there is one issue in which he deserves condemnation, it would be immigration. As of early May, Biden has continued the practice of child detention as more and more migrants arrive at the southern border. In addition, Biden toyed with the idea of resuming construction of Trump’s controversial and utterly useless border wall, in a reversal of his campaign promises (though it appears that he’s stepped away from this after initial backlash). And while I don’t necessarily buy Republican politicians’ feigned outrage over his border policies, I wholeheartedly agree that Biden has not handled immigration well.

As for the rest of Biden’s various agenda items, it’s somewhat of a mixed bag. There have certainly been areas where he’s done well. His infrastructure bill, estimated to cost around $2 trillion, promises to bring this country’s crumbling infrastructure into the 21st century, among other things. In addition, Biden also recently announced his support for Washington, D.C. statehood. 

However, Biden’s administration has also been disappointing in some respects. A good example is that of marijuana legalization and decriminalization. Rather than favor legalization (and amnesty for thousands incarcerated for minor drug offenses), Biden has instead decided to ban menthol cigarettes. In addition, Biden’s administration has moved rather slowly in regard to foreign policy. That being said, I applaud his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September.

Ultimately, my own feelings about Joe Biden’s presidency thus far can be summed up with “cautiously optimistic.” Many have dubbed Biden “the most progressive president” in the modern era, and I must concede that that is technically true. However, it’s only because his predecessors have all been either moderates or hardcore conservatives. To use an analogy, this is like eating nothing but lemons, then being surprised by the sweetness of a grapefruit. 

Though I can say I am pleasantly surprised by Biden’s performance thus far, I do believe there is more action he could take in areas he needs improvement in, like healthcare, the environment and especially immigration. With his first 100 days in the history books, we can only wait and see what the rest of Joe Biden’s presidency has in store.