Biden’s legislative agenda recalibrates the nation’s priorities


President Joe Biden swearing in ceremony/ U.S. Commission on Civil Rights/ Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain

President Biden’s sweeping reforms reach out directly to those who need it the most; the nearly $2 trillion package aims to pull the economy back up as life begins to return back to normal.

Joseph R. Biden was a moderate Democrat in the primary. Biden continued to run a campaign promising unity and sanity. But, the times have changed. Neoliberalism and pro-corporation policies led us to the hole we are now in. As the true gravity of the -pandemic and government failure set in, Biden made a promise to Build Back Better. Behind that promise stands a strong progressive policy platform that has the potential to change to course of history. 

This platform was in part created by the Biden-Sanders unity task forces. After the Democratic primary, this commission was created to reconcile policy differences between the moderate and progressive wings of the democratic party. There were committees created for each distinctive policy area with co-chairs from the party’s Sanders and Biden camps. For example, the climate committee was cochaired by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Former Secretary of State, now-United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. Together, these committees created policies that inspired the progressive base and led to Biden’s victory in the general election.

But, President’s legacy isn’t measured by what they promised; it is instead what they delivered. And oh, did Biden deliver in this time of extraordinary crisis. 

The American Rescue Plan Act: this is likely not the first time you heard this name, and it won’t be the last. The price tag for this bill is $1.9 trillion. While being a large sum, that is not what makes this bill special—former President Trump’s original stimulus bill $2 trillion

So why is this one of the most consequential bills of the 21st century?

The Act disregards the traditional path taken by presidents of the past, both Democratic and Republican; instead, it looks back to the New Deal tradition of supplying those most vulnerable.

Trump’s $2 trillion bill included slush funds and corporate bail-outs, as did Obama’s recovery act. This American Rescue Plan is unique in delivering direct relief to the working people. This is the first abandonment on a mass level of trickle-down Reaganomics

The Rescue Plan is estimated to cut child poverty in half through an expanded and now refundable child tax credit.

However, despite the sweeping reforms, the administration was not able to reach all of its goals. A key anti-poverty provision was not implemented. The Senate version of the Rescue Plan failed to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. This provision was stripped out of the budget reconciliation bill by the Senate parliamentarian, a staffer who governs the Senate’s rules. Budget reconciliation skips the 60 vote threshold traditionally required to overcome a filibuster, but that means that all Democrats must be on board to meet the simple majority threshold with 51 votes.

Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer is looking to make a second attempt at budget reconciliation to raise the minimum wage as part of Biden’s infrastructure package, since a change in minimum wage will ultimately effect the budget for the infrastructure. 

As the Rescue Act works its magic in uplifting the economy and the vaccine roll-out eliminates the shelter-in-place protocols, the Biden administration has the opportunity to deliver on its promises and continue this boldly progressive streak to truly build back better.