Although skeptics predicted Biden might be a hesitant leader who would focus too much on elusive bipartisan deals out of fear of rocking the boat, he has proven himself to be anything but. Biden, it turns out, has hit the ground running and started crafting a robust record.
Biden made his mark with the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion package offering a sweeping combination of relief, stimulus and longer-term assistance. The legislation provided aid to state and local governments, direct checks for American families, an expanded child tax credit, assistance to small businesses and homeowners, expanded unemployment compensation and more. In our era of polarized politics, and with a Republican Party hell-bent on obstruction, Biden used the budget reconciliation process to sidestep the chances of a filibuster, and the bill was passed on party lines. Unlike the New Deal programs, much of the relief is short-term assistance. But the American Rescue Plan is impressive in its breadth and it remains a substantial piece of legislation.
And Biden isn’t stopping with this legislation. He has already started work on the American Jobs Plan, a sweeping infrastructure package that would inject $2 trillion into the foundation of our economy. The legislation would fund traditional infrastructure programs like bridges and roads, while improving broadband service, drinking water and the electric grid. Biden has also promised to fight climate change through electric vehicles and cleaner energy sources, while promoting racial equality. The Senate parliamentarian has ruled that Democrats can use the reconciliation process at least one more time, which could potentially pave the way for the bill’s passage.
It’s also important to remember that the first 100 days doesn’t necessarily determine the course of the rest of a President’s four years. Some, such as Jimmy Carter, were very successful during this period only to face political downfall later on. Others, like John F. Kennedy, start slow but end up strong.
Regardless of what the future holds, Biden’s presidency thus far has energized Democrats, many of whom have been pleasantly surprised by his willingness to push forward and deliver on big promises. His continued popularity will strengthen his standing within the party. Meanwhile, Democrats may be feeling better at the prospect of going into the 2022 midterms strengthened by Biden’s successes — and solidifying a political coalition that could potentially launch a new era in American liberalism.