In the first 100 days, new presidents try to convert election promises into quick legislative victories, defuse ongoing crises, differentiate themselves from their predecessors and set a leadership tone for the next four years – all while avoiding mistakes that could destroy their momentum.
How is President Joe Biden doing as he approaches this mark?
Not bad, experts say, given the scale of the crisis he is facing and the political opposition he is facing in Congress.
“I think there are three achievements that stand out so far: the increased distribution of coronavirus vaccines, the passing of the American rescue plan and the return to the Paris climate agreement,” said John Frendreis, political scientist at Loyola University in Chicago.
When Biden took office, the seven-day moving average for vaccinations was 777,000 per day, but that number rose to about 3 million per day under Biden. By the time its 100th day approached, approximately half of the US population 16 and older had received at least one dose of vaccine. In addition, more than 80% of seniors had received at least one shot, and 25% of American adults were fully vaccinated.
The US bailout was a $ 1.9 trillion bill designed to provide both additional funding to fight the pandemic and to help the economy face the resulting recession. The measure included state and local government grants, increased unemployment insurance, support for vaccination efforts, educational grants, refundable child tax credits and housing benefits.
“Few presidents passed anything as rigorous as the rescue package in the first 100 days,” said John J. Pitney Jr., a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College.
Additionally, our partners at PolitiFact provide a detailed account of other actions Biden took during his early tenure.
Other steps were more intangible, but no less significant, experts said. “One word sums it up: normality,” said Pitney. “We can now skip the news for a day or two without worrying about missing a scandal or a crazy tweet from the president. Biden made mistakes, like having to backtrack on refugee policy, but those are the mistakes presidents usually make at the start of their term in office. “
Here’s a closer look at what the Biden administration did and how its overall performance compared to its predecessors. (Biden’s 100th day in office is Thursday if you count half his day in office on January 20th.)
The coronavirus pandemic and healthcare
Experts said it was possible the vaccine adoption would have spiked regardless of who was president, but they added that Biden deserves certain steps. He urged manufacturers to ramp up vaccine production, backed the federal government for mass vaccination sites, and made sure a vaccine was available to nearly every American within 5 miles.
“He did a really good job,” said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association for Immunization Managers. “The first thing he did when he came into office was to set a tone and goals, and that was important in order to have a benchmark.”
Biden has also achieved two goals he set for his first 100 days in office – first 100 million doses of Covid vaccine, then after reaching that goal on the 58th day of his presidency, 200 million doses. On April 22nd, eight days before his 100th day, this goal was also achieved.
“Ultimately, the evidence is in the results,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “More than half of the population who had at least one shot means they have been extraordinarily successful.”
Biden also scored a victory in health insurance. Part of the $ 1.9 trillion aid package included a requirement that no one should spend more than 8.5% of their earnings on insurance premiums, which experts say is one of the most significant changes in the affordability of private insurance since the ACA.
And he kept other promises he made in the campaign, such as re-joining the World Health Organization and restoring the White House directorate of global health security. (PolitiFact tracks 100 of its campaign promises on the Biden Promise Tracker.)
In addition, “Restoring the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] This is evidence that science is clearly a priority for the federal government and the White House, ”said Dr. Amesh Adalja, Senior Scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security.
Other health promises were more difficult to keep, such as mandating masks across the country. While Biden has introduced a mask mandate in areas where the federal government has authority, such as federal buildings, airplanes, and other means of transportation, Republican governors in states like Texas and Alabama have withdrawn their mask mandates in recent months. We rated this promise as a compromise.
The government faces the challenge of getting the rest of the US vaccinated. There is evidence that the number of daily vaccinations is slowing, and some people tell respondents that they are not ready to get vaccinated at all.
“One of the challenges ahead is to further adjust vaccination efforts to vaccinate the next 20% of people,” said Hannan. “And at some point we also have to have children vaccinated. We just have to adapt our efforts for different populations. “
Biden’s progress in containing the pandemic has also paid off for the economy, fueling consumer activity held back during the pandemic.
Key elements of the US bailout included unemployment benefits, a temporary increase in child tax credits, an increase in food stamp aid, and support from state and local agencies for public health, housing and education. These points “deal directly and directly with the economic disasters that have plagued the working class and poorer Americans as a result of the public health crisis,” said Gary Burtless, economist at the Brookings Institution.
Critics raised concerns about the size and timing of the plan, saying it was passed late in the pandemic when an upswing was in sight. “There is a risk of the economy overheating,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the center-right American Action Forum.
Compare Biden with its predecessors
According to experts, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 100-day successes remain superior to all his successors. Roosevelt signed 15 major bills to overtake the economy and tackle the Great Depression. Harry Truman helped rebuild alliances, economies and stability after World War II. Bill Clinton signed the Family and Sick Leave Act. Barack Obama approved a nearly $ 800 billion stimulus package to combat a devastating recession.
“Biden is pretty cheap compared to any other president after Franklin Roosevelt,” said Max Skidmore, a political scientist at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Biden has faced arguably more partisan polarization than any of those predecessors – no Republican in Congress voted for the US bailout, and most GOP lawmakers have expressed reservations about other aspects of his political agenda. In addition, Biden’s party has close majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Experts believe the tight margins in Congress will push Biden to continue using executive orders and other administrative measures to advance his agenda. Biden has previously used executive orders for coronavirus, immigration, and guns policies. In some cases, Biden has been able to repeal Executive Orders signed by Trump, who, like Biden, turned to Executive Orders when he was unable to achieve some of his priorities through both houses of Congress.
“All recent presidents seek a change in the law if they can get it, but most have spent most of their terms in divided government,” Frendreis said. “Even if they have a unified government, they rarely enjoy a filibuster-safe Senate majority. President Biden is no different in this regard. “
Emmarie Huetteman and Victoria Knight from KHN and Amy Sherman and Miriam Valverde from PolitiFact contributed to this report.
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