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Joe Biden has completed 100 days in office, a mark historically known to be thoroughly scrutinized by the American society and a key point to illustrate what the Administration has done so far, and what are their main goals and challenges ahead.

The 100 days mark is known to be a predictor of how well the Administration will perform during the 4-year span, and the first moment of analysis of approval ratings of the President compared to some of his predecessors.

A fast mover

Joe Biden has moved fast and steadily, with the Biden Administration issuing more executive orders than his predecessor Donald Trump. Executive orders include not only executive actions, but also reversals of predecessors’ actions.

Biden has issued 52 executive orders against 39 of Donald Trump and 34 of Barack Obama, in the same time period. Of those 52 executive actions, close to half, 24, have been reversals of orders executed by the Trump’s administration, mainly in the health and immigration sector.

The focus has been on tackling the biggest health crisis the United States has faced: The Coronavirus.

Figure 1: Joe Biden’s Executive Orders (First 100 days), Source: The White House; Graphic: Christopher Hickey, CNN

Immigration policies and equity have been two of the other key components where Joe Biden has invested his time, which can be explained by Donald Trump’s strongly opposing views on the matters.

Vaccination and SARS-CoV-2

Regarding vaccination, the President has set bigger goals as his tenure went forward. The initially set goal of 100 million vaccine shots was substituted by 220 million shots by the end of March, which was seen by many as an unrealistic goal. The truth is, according to official data from US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the goal has even been surpassed: 235 million vaccine shots have been administered during this period.

The increase has mainly been done through the information campaign that has been led by this Administration, which ensures the safety of the vaccines and its long and short-term benefits for the country. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) also included a strong funding component for vaccination, which cannot be understated in helping the country achieve its targeted goals.

The Administration has also pledged close to $4 billion to COVAX, the main program designed to achieve global vaccination.

Schools have been reopened slowly and the healthcare investment, fueled by the ARP, has reached all-time highs to fight the spread of the virus.

As a result, there has been a strong decrease in cases and deaths all around the country, which reduced the pressure on the American health institutions, as well as on the governors of each state, that were coping with challenges hard to overcome regarding Covid-19 measures.

Figure 2: Covid-19 cases from March 2020 to the 25th of May 2021, Source: CNN/CDC

Immigration: the great challenge ahead

Immigration was a strong topic of discussion during Biden’s campaign, as there was a general uncertainty to how the Democratic president was going to manage the strong stances the previous administration had towards border control and immigration in the country.

The strategy regarding immigration has mainly been to reverse what was done by Donald Trump, as there have been 10 reversals regarding the topic, more than in any other area of action of the Biden’s administration.

One of the key reversals was to the law passed by the previous administration that empowered the U.S authorities to rapidly expel migrant children caught at the border without their parents. The measure, which has been seen to have been crucial to improve the efficiency of the reunification process, has led to a raise in the number of children looking for their families at the borders of the country.

Despite the positive early results, the sheltering of children has been under fire by fellow democrats, as well as the increased strain on healthcare services, who reduced the number of beds destined to migrants by 40% due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The health situation of these children has been one of the main topics of American politics for the past few months and will certainly be an interesting topic to follow as it unfolds.

Economic Relief and Job Creation

The economic recovery in the United States due to the effects of SARS CoV-2 has generated the biggest stimulus plans the country has ever witnessed. 

The massive relief proposal, the American Rescue Plan, was approved last March and includes strong economic stimulus, such as $1,400 stimulus’ checks and a $15 increase in the federal minimum wage.

Some of the other measures include a federal income tax break and more than $350 billion to states and local governments, the latter being seen as a key turning point in the states’ fight against difficult challenges, such as the renters and child tax credit struggles.

A record number of jobs have been created by the Biden Administration in the first 100 days. More than 1.3 million jobs have been added, a record number that will likely keep rising due to the strong stimulus strategy that has been employed by the Administration.

The American Jobs Plan intends to increase that number. The 22.5 trillion dollars plan is not going to be only focused in traditional infrastructure (roads, railroads, bridges, among others) but also in electric vehicles, R&D, green economy and supply chains, just to name a few. It is important to highlight that bipartisan commitment in this matter is hard and tends to lower the original proposed value of the plan.

Figure 3: Job growth evolution, Source: BBC: Bureau of Labor Statistics

It is also important to state that future economic measures may not have Congress’ easy approval, as the expenditure is already achieving high numbers which may trigger a negative response by the conservative members of the Congress and the House.

Foreign Policy

Although many thought the US-China relationship was going to be the main discussion point of the Biden Administration regarding foreign policy, the President has overcome the topic by putting in place a measure that trumps it: the complete withdrawing of troops from Afghanistan until September 11, which marks the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks, in New York.

The withdrawal of troops from the country was initiated by Barack Obama, and slightly reversed by Donald Trump but is now being fulfilled by Biden, as he looks to only keep in the country the crucial troops for American diplomats’ protection.

The strategy has, however, been thoroughly criticized by the conservative wing of American politics, as it is believed that it will undermine the strength of the United States position in the Middle East.

The Administration has also placed efforts on salvaging the US-Iran nuclear deal, with ongoing talks at a very early stage.

The position on Russia, a long-declared enemy, has also been strong and decisive, with the President expelling Russian diplomats in response to the SolarWinds attack and to the interference in the 2020 US elections. The president went even further accusing Vladimir Putin of being an “assassin” in a BBC’s official interview.

The efforts to restore policies regarding the environment have been headlined by the return to the 2015 Paris climate agreement, even though no plan has yet been underlined to meet the goals of reducing carbon emissions.

In sum, President Biden has been active regarding foreign policy, which was seen as crucial to reverse Donald Trump’s stances on the matter.

Approval Ratings

Joe Biden has shown strong approval ratings, higher than Donald Trump’s 40% but still not matching his democratic counterpart, Barack Obama.

Of the 53% of adults that approve Biden’s first 100 days, 90% are democrats, 61% independents and just 9% republicans.

Coronavirus and the economic recovery seem to be the main booster of Biden’s public perception, as they represent the two main reasons for the approval rating of the 46th President of the United States.

What is further restraining the approval rating are two challenges that strongly lie ahead, as mentioned along the article: border patrol and immigration.

Figure 4: Presidential approval rating, Source: NBC News

In sum, Biden’s first 100 days have been eventful and challenging, due to the lack of unity in the Nation after the incidents at the nation’s Capitol. Many challenges lie ahead, such as bipartisan commitment in key issues, such as the America Jobs Plan, and diplomatic crisis such as Israel, Iran, or the EU. It will be interesting to see how the administration will fare in these matters.

Miguel Ferreira

Miguel holds a Bachelors in Communication Sciences and is a NovaSBE Alumni. He previously worked as an external consultant for Câmara Municipal de Cascais and currently has a role of political consultant at Companhia de Consultadoria e Comunicação do Porto.

In September 2021, he will be integrating EY-Parthenon as a Consultant in the area of Public Policy.

He considers himself an avid reader with interests over public policies and political strategies.

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