Research & Studies

The first 100 days of Joe Biden’s administration – Interview with Jody Jensen and James M. Skelly

There were high expectations for the new Biden administration. Is it possible to enter a new era under Pres. Biden in contrast to Trump?

Jody Jensen (Head of Polányi Centre at iASK): Newspapers are running with titles like “Biden Boom” (New York Times), “Can Biden achieve an FDR-style presidency?” (Washington Post), “Biden Chooses Prosperity Over Vengeance” (The Atlantic) that reflect a general expectation of a new era dawning with the election of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. as the 46th President of the United States of America. Initial feelings of relief from the contentious Trump administration were tempered with the reality of impending challenges, especially domestically with the Covid 19 pandemic rampant and the demands of economic recovery for economically struggling Americans. Biden brought a human face to the common and immediate needs of Americans and in the first 100 days understated his pandemic relief plans so that today he can claim over 21.3% of the population (as of April 11, 2021, over 70 million people) are fully vaccinated, thus already exceeding his promise of 100 million shots by 183 million doses administered in his first 100 days.

As the domestic crises will certainly take precedence in this initial period, and as the Biden administration’s approach so far has been one of unity in adversity, this is in stark contrast to the polarizing and confrontational former administration. The president held an interesting meeting with historians like Doris Kearns Goodwin, Walter Isaacson, and others in early March at the White House. In these discussions it was reported that Biden asked questions about how much change and at what pace Americans could accept historic systemic changes. Biden is already being compared to paradigm changing presidents like FDR, and whereas at the end of the last administration, when Trump warned of apocalyptic consequences if defeated, there is a sense of hope today moving forward.

James M. Skelly (ISES Foundation): I have no doubt that we are entering a more positive new era under President Biden in contrast to that informed by Donald Trump. During Biden’s first term in the US Senate, I worked in a junior position as a Special Assistant to another Democratic Senator, John Tunney, of California.  The chat among our senior staff, who often worked with Biden’s staff, was that Biden was personable, reliable, and steady. He sought consensus on policy questions, and was civil even while in disagreement with other Senators. As former US Labor Secretary, Robert Reich, recently wrote that, Biden is “Mr Fix-it”, and quotes the President as saying simply, “I got elected to solve problems”.

Thus, I also think we can be assured that President Biden will not publicly call a former major supporter  “a dumb son of a _ _ _ _ _”, as Trump said of Senator Mitch McConnell at a rally in Florida earlier this April!

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