By: Molly Amick
This election season, the American people turned out in astounding numbers to exercise their voice through their vote: a projected 161 million of them, which is the highest turnout in modern history. The results are in, and Joe Biden has been elected as the next President of the United States, with another record-setting 80 million votes. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won this monumental election, flipping Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin. With pressing social issues and massive movements taking place over the past four years for racial equality, environmental justice and women’s rights--just to name a few--this election clearly revealed the need for systemic attention to America’s deeply rooted issues. The people have spoken and the next four years for our country will look different under leadership that has drastically different approaches to serve our country. So, where are we going from here?
To begin with an immediate concern: the coronavirus. Biden has outlined measures he will take to protect the health of all Americans. While the United States has neglected to effectively manage Covid within a reasonable timeframe compared to other countries, it’s difficult to eradicate a pandemic in a country with central values of freedom and civil liberty. Biden plans to make testing free and accessible to all, as well as equipping medical professionals with the supplies necessary to handle potential shortages, considering the country’s cases are climbing once again.
One key focus for Biden is addressing climate change and revolutionizing our energy. With many leading scientists and climate experts warning our country of the danger we’re in, it’s imperative that we make large-scale changes to protect the environment. We can’t deny that Donald Trump’s climate change denial has alarmed many, and Biden’s comparatively more progressive stance on environmental issues was an essential factor to his election. To address our greenhouse gas emission rates, Biden has plans to invest in more sustainable energy and farming, with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Along the lines of environmental justice, Biden recognizes water as a human right and agrees to tackle unsafe drinking water in communities that are affected. Biden has also shown interest in tightening regulations regarding fossil fuel extraction with the ultimate priority of reducing pollution from big industries.
However, contrary to these outlined goals, Biden has appointed Cedric Richmond as an adviser. This has alarmed many environmental activists as Richmond has received ample donations from the fossil fuel industry in his campaign. So, while Biden has placed emphasis on the critical issue that is our climate crisis, this decision of his could be hypocritical, and may require displays of dissatisfaction on behalf of Americans in order to hold Biden to his word.
Another way in which Biden contrasts Trump in leadership is the President-elect’s acknowledgement of social and economic equity issues that are pervasive in our country. Biden has recognized that race plays a role in the economic mobility of Americans, and that environmental issues are highly discriminatory. Black and brown communities are the ones endangered by pollution as well as being prone to worse air quality and toxic substances, which is a public health concern. Biden outlines that he’ll strive for equity through the sequestration of billions to Black and brown owned businesses to promote economic growth to those disadvantaged in this country.
Another predicted policy to bring economic benefit is Biden’s tax plan. First, this consists of raising the federal corporate tax rate from its current 21 percent (according to the Tax Policy Center) to 28 percent. While Biden’s tax plan has been controversial, this corporate tax shouldn’t be alarming; prior to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the federal corporate tax rate was 35 percent. Raising the corporate tax rate is controversial to some, but when we look at the tax cuts that large corporations and the utmost wealthy received under Trump, it seems much healthier to the economy (especially for middle-class Americans) that we return to a more substantial taxing of corporations. Citing the Tax Policy Center, Biden’s website states “Tax experts estimate that over the long run, 83% of Trump’s tax giveaway will flow to the top 1% of earners in this country.” Instead, Biden speaks of giving tax cuts to the middle class to encourage more small businesses to succeed and keep healthy market competition.
Biden has a decisive vision for the United States of America, but under his administration just as much as any other, it is us, the people, who are responsible for holding our leaders accountable. Although Biden shows a progressive front and has arrangements to confront coronavirus, income inequality, environmental problems and social inequity, the path towards a more robust and righteous America will be a treacherous one.