Joe Biden has set a new record by signing 17 decrees on day one of his presidency, with the $1.9 trillion COVID relief strategy, immigration, and criminal justice reforms also being on the list of his priorities. According to Biden's incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, the proposed initiatives are aimed at "revers[ing] the gravest damages of the Trump administration".
Hidden Flaws of Biden's COVID Vaccination Plan
Biden has pledged to inoculate 100 million Americans in the first 100 days of his presidency, denouncing Donald Trump's jab distribution strategy as a "failure". A source with direct knowledge of the new administration's COVID-related work complained to CNN that Biden has inherited a "non-existent" anti-coronavirus drug distribution plan and must start "from scratch".
However, ex-COVID tsar Dr Anthony Fauci shredded the CNN report, signalling that Biden officials will continue to build on the blueprint left by their predecessors. Furthermore, the president's 100-day vaccination goal was nearly met by the Trump administration, which distributed about one million doses a day on average, notes Bloomberg. However, this is not enough, given that the Biden Cabinet needs to inoculate from 70% to 85% of the country by the end of summer to return to normalcy, according to the news outlet. In fact, this would require more than double the rate of Biden's 100-day goal, argues Bloomberg, citing House GOP whip Steve Scalise, who called on to the president "to do 200 million in 100 days''.
Still, even Biden's current $400 billion COVID-19 plan appears to be a tough challenge which requires a huge cost and logistical effort, believes Dr Gal Luft, co-director of the US-based Institute for the Analysis of Global Security.
Biden's plan is "rather ambitious" and the administration "runs the risk of overpromising", agrees Quardricos Driskell, a professor of politics at George Washington University and a healthcare lobbyist.
There are still many unknown questions with regard to the mass vaccination, according to the professor:
"How is the distribution of all of this going to work? Will Congress provide the funding needed to follow through on a lot of these ideas? And will these changes move the needle fast enough?" he asks.
It appears that Joe Biden isn't very optimistic about his own COVID plan either, as he recently told the press that "there’s nothing [the White House] can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months", leaving US observers wondering as to what happened to the president's October 2020 pledge to immediately "shut the virus down".
Biden: “There’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.”— Justin Amash (@justinamash) January 22, 2021
Haven’t we been told for months that restrictions and mandates were necessary to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months? pic.twitter.com/BYXDPJorMD
Domestic Policy: Stimulus Measures
The efficiency of Biden's stimulus measures, embedded in his $1.9 trillion plan, also raises questions, according to Michael R. Englund, principal director and chief economist for Action Economics. The plan to provide direct payments to Americans and inject more money into the US economy is not fresh when compared to Donald Trump's strategy: "Though President Biden will use rhetoric to contrast his policies with Donald Trump, there will probably be little difference", the economist says.
Both politicians appear to be pursuing "a Keynesian deficit spending policy", notes Dr Thorsten Polleit, an investment adviser and chief economist for Degussa, warning that "it will push US public debt to new record highs" and shatter people's confidence in the US dollar, thus threatening the world's financial and economic architecture.
Coupled with Trump's two tranches of direct payments, the total fiscal stimulus would amount to $5.2 trillion since the beginning of the crisis, which has already forced GOP deficit hawks to throw Biden's stimulus measure into question as a colossal money waste.
"Although the Biden White House should be able to pass the COVID relief bill in some form, other priorities may be more difficult to implement, such as the effort to raise the federal minimum raise to $15 per hour", believes Rubrick Biegon, a lecturer in international relations at the University of Kent.
Foreign Policy: Building Upon Trump's Strategy
Meanwhile, Biden's mammoth domestic tasks appear to leave not much bandwidth for Washington's foreign adventures. Nevertheless, the new administration needs to focus on restoration of America's relations with its traditional allies, says Gal Luft, citing reports about the president's upcoming visit to the UK. Before attending the G7 Summit in Cornwall in June, the new Oval Office occupant is expected to hold talks with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
On the other hand, Biden is also likely to follow Barack Obama and Donald Trump's suit in holding Washington's European allies responsible for "free-riding", notes Paul Poast, an associate professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago, adding that it was Obama who pushed for formalising the 2% GDP NATO military spending target, something that Trump actively promoted during his term.
Biden's China policies are currently staying in line with those of his predecessor, notes Michael R. Englund, citing the president's hesitance to unwind tariffs on China and the loosen grip on the People's Republic's telecom companies barred by Trump under security pretexts.
Similarly, the new US administration appears to build on Trump's Iran strategy, despite Biden's earlier vow to resume the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action once he assumes office.
Blinken tells Menendez that Biden admin will seek to address ballistic missiles and Iran's activities in a broader deal once/if Iran returns to compliance, but "I think we're a long way from there."— Jacob Kornbluh (@jacobkornbluh) January 19, 2021
Washington is a “long way” from reaching a new nuclear accord with Tehran, Biden’s secretary of state nominee, Antony Blinken, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing on 19 January, adding that the new agreement will also include restrictions on Iran’s missile programme, something that Tehran vehemently opposes. The renewal of the nuclear accords could also be hindered by the fact that Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei has raised the price for Tehran's adherence to the JCPOA's targets, deems Daniel Pipes, an American historian, writer, and commentator.
"The return of the US leadership" proclaimed by Biden actually means the revival of an Obama-era "play book" envisaging Washington "meddling" in every corner of the world, warns Daniel McAdams, executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.
"The personnel is the policy", he remarks, citing Biden's foreign policy picks. "This will be a hyper-interventionist administration, where both soft and hard power will be deployed across the globe".