On January 2o, the clock started on the first 100 days of the Biden administration. While there will be 1,360 more days to follow, the period between January and the end of April is when the direction and forcefulness of the new president’s initial policies will be judged. How will he change regulation? What can he push through Congress? What first steps will his new appointees take?
President Biden has indicated he is open to thinking big. So before the realities of a divided Congress and ever-sclerotic pace of change become apparent once again, we’ve looked at major policy areas to examined how the new administration might approach them—and the big ideas it might consider across issues like environmental protection, public transit, artificial intelligence, and worker pay.
Read all the stories in the series. New stories will publish each day this week:
Certainly, the biggest challenge Biden currently faces is reigning in the COVID-19 pandemic: working to suppress the disease while rolling out 100 million vaccinations, and simultaneously pushing through Congress a stimulus bill big enough to help people whose lives and businesses have been destroyed by the cratered economy. Biden also has to prepare our country for a recovery once enough shots are in people’s arms—but if we’re actually going to “build back better,” the virus cannot be the only thing on the administration’s agenda for that recovery to be truly transformative.
A comprehensive recovery will require help for U.S. workers beyond stimulus dollars. As a $15 minimum wage seems to be stalled in Congress, what can Biden to raise wages to get the economy flowing again? Cities need help, too: What will the administration do to restore our devastated public transit systems, which will need to be running smoothly once people return to work?
The Trump administration rolled back countless environmental regulations, but a new head of the EPA can work to quickly rebuild the agency’s capacity. The potential new secretary is a relative unknown: What moves might he make? And as climate change becomes a deeper focus of the White House than it ever has before, what if the administration tried a new approach, homing in on one of the most under-the-radar climate issues: our clothes? Similarly, harsh immigration policies—from ICE’s family separation to the Muslim Ban to the total cut-off of refugees—defined the last administration. How easy will it be for Biden to put in a more immigrant-friendly system?
Biden will also need to look to problems on the horizon. The pandemic exposed an ossified public health infrastructure, but he can revitalize it by focusing on health innovation. And he can prepare for other looming threats: AI might seem like a minor issue today, but scientists are making advances every day, and we do not even know what problems it may present in the future. Can this administration pioneer a framework to regulate the industry?
As those 100 million vaccines dominate the headlines, there’s huge opportunity to use the recovery from this crisis as a transformative moment across many sectors. Will Biden be willing—and able—to seize it?