Although President Donald Trump has yet to concede, Joe Biden is poised to take office on Jan. 20. Trump portrayed Biden as a puppet controlled by the “radical left,” but I don’t think his term will take that trajectory. In his first debate with Trump, Biden declared, “I am the Democratic Party,” not unlike a certain emperor a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Therefore, we should try to determine what policies “the Democratic Party” will pursue during his tenure as president.
According to Gallup Polls, voters’ top priority was the economy heading into the 2020 general election. Biden’s first act will likely be repealing the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017. Some may try to decry the president-elect for raising taxes on the middle class, but rescinding this bill helps working-class Americans.
For one, experts estimate the 2017 tax cuts significantly increase wealth inequality. They project the lowest fifth of income groups to see a growth of 0.4 percent in income, whereas the top fifth will experience a 2.3 percent increase in growth. To put those numbers in perspective, the poorest Americans will pay, on average, $70 less in taxes compared to the almost $7,500 gain for wealthy Americans.
COVID-19 has also revealed staggering wealth inequality in our country. During the first eight months of 2020, Elon Musk increased his wealth by 242 percent. Simultaneously, almost a quarter of American households experienced food shortages this year, up from 10 percent in 2019. So, while Musk was dreaming up the next cyber-truck, working-class Americans stood in food lines.
Repealing the cuts would significantly improve middle and lower-income families’ ability to find financial security. Additionally, Biden plans on increasing taxes on corporations and households earning more than $400,000 per year. Doing so places less of a tax burden on middle and lower-class families, redistributing wealth to working Americans. As such, social mobility becomes increasingly more accessible.
Moreover, the pandemic has exposed our broken healthcare system. Between February and August, 12 million Americans lost their health insurance, the exact opposite of what should happen with a deadly virus ripping through the nation. To ensure everyone has access to affordable healthcare, Biden plans on expanding the Affordable Care Act with a public option.
Biden’s plan will hopefully reduce health care costs by incentivizing the private market to lower its costs and be more competitive with the public option. However, the president-elect may struggle to pass healthcare reforms in the first two years since Republicans currently hold 50 Senate seats. As such, healthcare reforms may not be at the top of Biden’s priorities.
Fortunately, even if Biden can’t expand the ACA through Congress, there are other steps he will take to improve public health. To directly combat COVID-19, Biden will first rejoin the World Health Organization and expand the CDC’s global presence. Additionally, medical professionals are still experiencing PPE shortages. To combat this issue, Biden plans to significantly use the Defense Production Act more than the Trump Administration.
Most significantly, Biden will ensure governors enact statewide mask mandates. If 95 percent of Americans wore masks, some projections suggest we could save 100,000 American lives. They may be uncomfortable, but 220,000 have already died. Ensuring mask mandates are enforced can prevent that number from climbing to 300,000.
Biden’s presidency will likely focus on ameliorating structural health and economic issues. Most of his policies will center around mitigating COVID-19’s effects and helping working-class Americans recover from the recession. Above all, Biden will do his best to be a president for all Americans, whether you’re a blue-collar worker in Michigan, a rancher in Texas or a businessman in New York.
Caleb Powell is a biomedical engineering sophomore and columnist for The Battalion. His column is typically published online every other Wednesday when not in the Thursday newspaper.