Joe Biden, the 46th President of the United States

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. won the 2020 US Elections, becoming the President-elect, with his inauguration as the 46th President of the United States of America being planned for January 20th, 2021.

After a turbulent election week, delayed by prolonged counting, due to an increased number of mail-in ballots and early votes, as well as allegations of voter fraud. The fog eventually cleared, and Joe Biden has come out victorious, with decisive upsets in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia. Some results have been highly disputed, and the Trump campaign has already called for a recount in Wisconsin, Georgia, and Arizona. Despite all this, everything points towards Biden beating Trump, 306 to 232 Electoral College votes.


Senate and House of Representatives

Joe Biden is experienced for the office, having already served two terms as US’ Vice-President under the Obama administration, as well as six terms as Senator of Delaware.  His presidential campaign was based on being an experienced, traditional American politician, with an old-fashioned appeal and charismatic honesty.

With Biden at the helm, it feels like Washington’s future will be predictable and optimistic, unlike the last four years of Donald Trump’s erratic presidency.

The first two years of Biden’s mandate, however, will highly depend on the outcome of Georgia’s Senate runoff race. If Democrats can secure both seats, the Senate will be split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, with Kamala Harris, the Vice-President, serving as tiebreaker. As the House of Representatives is already held by Democrats, it would be considerably easier for Biden to pass some of his more ambitious policies, that stem from a more progressive wing of the party if both chambers were held by Democrats. Biden managed to gather the support of these progressive members of the Democratic Party, following his nomination for the Presidency. The impact of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s and Bernie Sanders’s policies, if passed, could bring a substantial shift not only to American politics, but also to its socio-economic structure.

On the other hand, if Democrats are unable to secure both Senate seats, Biden must wait until 2022 to try to obtain a Senate majority, when 34 Senate seats will be up for election. Until then, Biden would have to strive for Bipartisan measures, that would be less ambitious than his proposed measures, especially regarding a new tax plan and healthcare bill.


What can we expect of Biden’s Presidency?

Biden has already stated that on his first day in office, he will rejoin both the Paris Climate Deal and the World Health Organization, following Trump’s unexpected withdrawal from both these agreements, in 2017 and April of this year, respectively.

It has been made clear by the elected President, that he will tackle this pandemic with a science-based approach, appointing a task force of scientists led by Dr. Anthony Fauci. The Biden administration will also have to face the current crisis that was brought forth by the Covid-19 pandemic. This will be one of the major hurdles to surpass, as restructuring the economy will be vital to ensure that the American Economy overcomes this crisis. The plan is to primarily help low-income families, as they were the most affected by the current crisis, by encouraging the creation of small businesses and their expansion to economically disadvantaged areas. These areas are predominantly inhabited by minorities, and these measures would allow for greater racial equity throughout all social classes and ethnicities.

In the long-run, Biden plans to take concise action towards fighting Climate Change, seeking to invest $2 trillion to boost clean energy and rebuild deteriorating infrastructure. According to Biden, the US is currently facing “A Child Care Emergency”. To tackle it, he plans to invest $775 billion to lower the cost of and expand the access to healthcare for Americans. To raise funding to apply these measures, the Biden administration plans a tax increase on people earning over $400.000 a year, as well as multi-million dollar companies, who benefited from tax cuts under the Trump Administration. However, as mentioned before, these highly ambitious, but ground-breaking measures, are extremely difficult to be approved in a Republican-controlled Senate.


Biden’s plan on Foreign Affairs

Biden has clearly stated that he intends to revitalize the Iran Nuclear Deal, following Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from it, correcting the subsequent unforgiving economic sanctions that plummeted the Irani economy into a deep recession with soaring inflation and shortages of basic goods.

The election of Biden for President was not the desired outcome for Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as Biden announced he would reassess the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia. He further declared he will demand accountability over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist murdered inside the Saudi consulate, in Istanbul. The military support provided to Saudi Arabia by the US government in the Yemeni Civil War has also been questioned due to the increased death toll of civilians by Saudi Air and Drone strikes. This contrasts Mohammed bin Salman’s relationship with Donald Trump, who in 2019 referred his Saudi counterpart as “a good friend of mine”, after deciding not to confront the Saudi leader following the murder of Khashoggi.

During his tenure as Vice-President, Joe Biden was highly critical of Putin especially following the annexation of Crimea in 2014. He maintained this rhetoric after Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition leader, was poisoned. However, Biden commented encouragingly the extension of START, the latest nuclear arms reduction pact between Russia and the US, that is set to expire in February.

Regarding China, Biden plans to take a more measured and multilateral approach to “pressure, punish and isolate China”, than the Trump administration’s barrage of sanctions on Beijing. 

“This is the time to heal America”

In his victory speech, the President-Elect displayed empathy and tried to reach out to those who did not vote for him. Essentially, Joe Biden attempted to convey a positive message that sought to reunite the American people, following a tumultuous election.

“To make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They are Americans. They are Americans.”

— Joe Biden in his victory speech

For now, one must wait until the Electoral College meets to officially declare Joe Biden the President-elect, as Donald Trump has not yet conceded, and is still trying to fight a legal battle to annul what he deemed to be “illegal votes”. Only time will tell if Biden will be able to unify and heal a country deeply split by polarizing issues, that range from police brutality and institutional racism, to gun control and immigration. Without this unity, it will be even more demanding to ensure the US can come out of the current crisis stronger, as they did many times before, as a country.

Sources: Aljazeera, CNBC, EuroNews, Financial Times, Futurism, Reuters, The New York Times.

Christian Weber - Christian Weber João Oliveira - João Oliveira

João Sande e Castro - João Sande e Castro

The Federalist Papers: Short overview and considerations about the future of fiscal federalism in the EU

“After full experience of the insufficiency of the existing federal government, you are invited to deliberate upon a New Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences, nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire, in many
respects, the most interesting in the world.”

— Alexander Hamilton as Publius, Federalist No. 1

Following the American Revolutionary War, and the drafting and ratification of the Articles of Confederation by the 13 states, it soon became obvious that the young confederate government was severely hindered in its functioning by an overall lack of power. Indeed, without an executive or judicial branch, the new government lacked the power and authority to tax, for example. Since it could only request money from states but didn’t have any ability to enforce these requests, both the government and the U.S. army were majorly underfunded.

It was, therefore, to evaluate and, possibly, amend the Articles of Confederation and improve the current situation that delegates from the 13 states gathered in Philadelphia, in 1787, in what was called the Philadelphia (or Constitutional) Convention. Even though a new constitution was drafted and signed in this convention, it was not with this goal in mind that these delegates joined in assembly. However, since many were convinced of the inadequacy of the current system, the convention soon evolved into an effort to redesign and rebuild the whole political structure of the union from a loose confederacy into a more solidly cemented federal union.

However, the drafting of the new constitution and its signing in the convention was only the first step. Next, and most critically, to enter into force, the new Constitution needed to be ratified by 9 of the 13 states. It was to lobby votes in favor of ratification that Alexander Hamilton, one of the convention delegates from the state of New York and the 1st Secretary of Treasury of the United States of the future government, wrote, along with James Madison, one of the most central figures in the drafting of the new Constitution and the Bill of Rights and future president of the U.S., and with John Jay, future 1st Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the new government, a series of essays whose collection is referred to as The Federalist Papers.

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

The Federalist Papers

The Federalist Papers

James Madison

James Madison

These essays, 85 in total (1), were published as serial installments in newspapers and discussed topics ranging from the benefits of a federal union under the Constitution on matters of war and taxation to the discussion of the principles of separation of powers, how it is upheld by the Constitution and how the system of checks and balances between the three branches of government works under the Constitution, all the while attempting to refute many of the anti-ratification arguments of the time.

Although their effect in promoting the ratification of the Constitution is unverifiable, they certainly are a window into the political and historical framing of the federalists vs anti-federalists debates of the time and can prove useful in understanding some of the debates and arguments employed with regards to federalism in the European Union.

In Federalist No.11, Hamilton talks about the advantages of a common commerce policy, as achievable by federalization with, for example, the ban on inter-state tariffs, echoing many of the free-trade ideas that helped create and develop today’s European Union’s common market.

In Federalist No.30, Hamilton describes the poor situation of the government’s revenues under the Articles of Confederation and argues, namely, that the state of public debt of such a government will be extremely precarious. Indeed, while talking about the future creditors of the government he says:

“to depend upon a government, that must itself depend upon thirteen other governments, for the means of fulfilling its contracts, (…) would require a degree of credulity, not often to be met with in the pecuniary transactions of mankind”

— Alexander Hamilton as Publius, Federalist No. 30

The solution to such a problem, he argued, lied in giving the new Congress the general power to tax and levy tariffs.

However, federal revenues were mainly dependent on tariffs until the beginning of the 20th century, before the creation of the income tax (2). As this new tax was being levied and grew in size, federal fiscal policy also grew in scope, with the creation of the New Deal during the Great Depression, for example.

Both Hamilton’s arguments at the time for a more energetic government, empowered by the power to tax, and the expansion of the scope of federal fiscal policy after the Great Depression timed with the creation of the income tax provide insights into the current discussions on the expansion of centralized fiscal responses by the European Union.

Indeed, for the central institutions of the European Union to be able to provide a more timely and powerful response to a crisis such as the present one, they must also be able to access bigger sources of revenues.

If we want more powerful central institutions in the EU their budgets must also increase.

In 2017, EU budget expenditures were about €137,000 million. These paled in comparison to the U.S federal government’s almost $4,000,000 million in outlays. In Europe, where countries’ governments are already very fiscally active, it is hard to imagine a scenario where an increase of the central EU budget to levels more comparable to those of the U.S. federal government would not come at the cost of shrinking national government’s budgets.

Whether a more centralized response by the EU would, then, be net-beneficial is not something I’m arguing for or against. Indeed, the question that I desire to pose is whether this response, at the expense of member-states’ fiscal power, is politically achievable. Such a question is impossible to definitively answer. On one hand, emergency situations, like the Great Depression in the U.S., seem to be breeding grounds for centralization, on the other, the shifting political landscape in Europe, namely with the rise of Euro-skeptic parties, may foresee a grimmer fate for European federalism.

(1) You can find The Federalist Papers at: or listen to public domain recordings of it by LibriVox at:

(2)-  Even though Clause 1 of Section 8 of Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution gave Congress the ability to levy taxes it was only with the creation of the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that Congress was able to levy country-wide income taxes.