The most important thing President Joe Biden has done during his first 100 days in office is restore dignity and civility to the White House. The significance of this cannot be underestimated.
Gone are the verbal attacks, incoherent rambling, dismissing medical experts, catering to racists and public meanness from the leader of the free world. Gone are the mornings when you wake up to find a federal policy change made by tweet.
Americans now have factual press briefings and compassion in response to tragedies. Biden understands how government works and wants it to work for the people.
Even though Iowa did not grant him our electoral votes, Iowans will benefit from his priorities, policies and plans. We already are benefiting.
When Biden took office, he knew there was nothing more important than getting an infectious disease pandemic under control. Three months later, hospitalizations and deaths are down. All eligible Iowans have access to COVID-19 vaccinations. They can return to work and visited loved ones without being haunted by the fear of death.
Iowans can thank Biden and Democrats in Congress for $1,400 stimulus payments and other assistance from a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief program. The majority party, fortunately, did not waste precious time trying to court Republicans, including the five representatives and senators from Iowa.
In many other areas, Biden has set difficult work in motion, even if it will take months or years for his administration to demonstrate their ability to follow through for results.
Assessments have begun of how best to rise to the challenge of slowing our contributions to climate change. Iowa stands to be transformed one way or another, by climate change’s effects or by serious action to mitigate it.
Biden is using his executive power to embrace people instead of marginalize them. He established a task force to reunite families separated at the southern border and rescinded a ban on transgender troops in the military. Students and academics from countries including China and Iran will be exempt from remaining travel bans imposed during the pandemic. Those individuals bring needed revenue, expertise and diversity to Iowa colleges.
Because the current president understands the importance of global cooperation and the existential threat of climate change, the United States has rejoined the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accord.
Biden announced all U.S. combat troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by Sept. 11. This is welcome and long overdue.
This president wants Americans to have access to health care, which is especially important when COVID-19 can result in hospitalization and lingering illness. He supports the Affordable Care Act – the same law that expanded Medicaid to insure more than 170,000 additional Iowans and pay the providers who care for them.
His administration established a special enrollment period that began in February for people who want to secure health insurance in exchanges created by the ACA. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have signed up so far.
“Health care should be a right, not a privilege in America,” Biden said during his address to Congress last week.
Amen to that.
Biden has called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. In the meantime, he did what he could on his own by signing an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay that wage. Those who benefit include maintenance, cleaning and food-service workers.
Reforms to address gun violence also fall to Congress, but Biden directed his administration to tighten restrictions on so-called ghost guns. These lack serial numbers, are largely untraceable, and do not require the typical background check for purchase because they come nearly, but not completely, assembled. Such a “kit gun” was used by the teen who fatally shot two students and injured three others in Santa Clarita, California in 2019.
Because the federal government largely funds and controls safety net programs like Medicaid, Biden can protect Iowans from some misguided ideas being floated by our Republican state lawmakers. For example, his administration has already begun rolling back approvals previously given to states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. It certainly won’t allow Iowa to impose them on our most vulnerable people. Biden can and should put an end to privatized Medicaid, too.
New federal rules are in the works to undo a Trump-era rule that banned health providers participating in a federal family planning program from referring patients for abortions. Goodbye to interfering with doctor-patient relationships and pandering to anti-abortion activists.
Biden’s actions so far reflect his desire to take care of working families and build a better future for this country. So do the goals he outlined during his Wednesday speech.
Expand access to education. Help families pay for child care. Guarantee family leave to workers. Invest in infrastructure. Reform immigration, which will help this country secure desperately needed workers. Crack down on billionaire tax cheats. Lower prescription drug prices. Strive for equality.
Those ideas should garner support from all Iowans.
This editorial was first published in the Des Moines Register.