Biden needs to live up to his campaign promises

President Joe Biden

Photo: State House News Service

President Joe Biden

By Editorial Board

Joe Biden took office just over a month ago, and we’re already disappointed. At a time when millions of Americans are facing illness and job insecurity, a drastic change from Trump’s presidency was a beacon of hope for struggling Americans.

Sure, it hasn’t been all bad. Biden has already issued 34 executive orders, many of which are reversals of orders Trump made in the White House. In just his first few weeks, he extended a pause on student loan payments until Sept 30, reversed Trump’s order allowing separation of immigrant families at the border, and instated a task force to address the coronavirus pandemic. Most recently, Biden has pushed for a nearly $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that is currently headed to the Senate. 

He’s also reversed some of Trump’s more infamous policies, including a rescindment of the Muslim ban, rejoining the World Health Organization, and reentering the Paris Climate Agreement. Biden’s approval rating is also unusually high52.9 percent compared to Trump’s 44.3 percent rating at the start of his presidential term.

Still, there’s been a lot of questionable decisions from the Biden administration as well, mostly regarding campaign promises that he seems to have little intention of keeping. The airstrike he ordered on Syria Feb. 25 resulted in 22 casualties, further alienating allies in the Middle East. The Biden administration has said it’s unlikely a federal $15 minimum wage will end up in the upcoming COVID relief bill. Biden has also fallen short on immigration—thousands of unaccompanied migrant children are still currently being held in government detention centers

Much to the disappointment following this administration’s inauguration was due to a bar from the federal judge that stopped Biden from enforcing a 100-day pause on deportations. U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton said the Biden administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.” 

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Knowing this, the living conditions for immigrants in the U.S borders are also not improving. In January, more than 5,700 unaccompanied minors crossed the border, arriving at the Carrizo Springs facility on Monday, Feb 22. The White House reopened this facility used during the Trump administration, which has the capacity to house only 700 individuals between the ages of 13 and 17. 

As mentioned previously, the Biden administration seems to be struggling to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, in part due to push back from Congress. Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa argued that this would hurt small businesses. Biden said on Feb. 5 that he doesn’t “think [the federal $15 minimum wage] is going to survive,” in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Congress has struggled to pass since his inauguration. Now that there’s a Democratic majority, the Biden administration needs to heed this advantage and not constantly bow to Republican demands. It seems he is already picking and choosing his battles, and the COVID-19 relief bill changes took precedence.

However, one of Biden’s more popular campaign promises was student debt forgiveness. Over 40 million students owe $1.6 trillion in federal student loans, and while many call for President Biden to forgive up to $50,000 dollars of student debt, he would only commit to $10,000 in a recent CNN town hall.  He also commended programs like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), where over 95 percent of PSLF applicants have been denied. 

This is disappointing, not only because Biden campaigned on cancelation of all undergraduate student loans, but because Biden absolutely has the authority to use executive power to cancel all federal student debt— an authority granted decades ago by the Higher Education Act.  

It’s discouraging that Biden has already let us down on several of his campaign promises; but this is exactly why we need to remind his administration of who elected him in the first place. It is our civic duty as voters to call out presidents for their inaction, even if we do (for the most part) agree with their stances and ideology. A healthy degree of criticism is necessary if we ever want to live in a country that acknowledges and supports all of its citizens’ needs.

The Berkeley Beacon Editorial Board is the voice of the student newspaper that looks to serve the Emerson College community with thoughtful insight into ongoings and occurrences affecting their everyday lives. The board’s positions are determined by its members. The board consists of the editor-in-chief, managing editors, and opinion editors. The opinions expressed by the Editorial Board do not impact the paper’s coverage. You can respond to a position brought forward by The Beacon Editorial Board in the form of a Letter to The Editor by email: Letters@BerkeleyBeacon.com.