What to expect from Biden and Harris

At long last, it seems that the Donald Trump Show is finally over. With only 7 Republican Senators joining the 48 Democrats and two Independents to impeach former President Trump, the final vote was guilty 57, not guilty 43. Since the U.S. Constitution requires a two-thirds majority to convict in the case of impeachment, Trump is acquitted and the process is over.

Mith McConnel (Rep) and Chuck Schumer (Dem) in 2017

It seems that the record fast impeachment trial was the result of a compromise between the Senate’s Democratic and Republicans.  According to press reports, Republicans had threatened to delay the $ 1.9 Trillion stimulus package, and Joe Biden’s cabinet confirmations if things were not wrapped up quickly. Since the majority of the Republican Senators had already decided to acquit Trump the Democrats felt it was better to get the whole thing over with and move on.

The first most likely result is a relatively swift passage of the stimulus package which will include $ 1,400 checks to most American families, money for vaccine distribution, unemployment benefits, school reopenings, foreclosure protection, etc. Economist Paul Klugman has written that he feels the package is “aggressive enough” and compared it to the New Deal legislation of the 1930s. If he and the president’s advisors are right, the combination of the package, vaccination, and the onset of summer should bring the U.S. economy and Covid situation into much better shape by the Summer.

The second is the swift confirmation of the rest of Biden’s cabinet. So far he has 7 out of the 23 members of the cabinet in place including Tony Blinken (State), Janet Yellen (Treasury), Lloyd Austin (Defense), Pete Buttigieg (Transportation), Alejandro Maorkas (Homeland Security), and Dennis Mcdonough (Veterans Affairs), and Avril Haines (Intelligence).

Biden’s Cabinet Nominees

One way to see what to expect over the next few years is to look at the people that Biden has chosen for these and the other key roles in the cabinet, understand where they come from, and look at what they have said so far. In the months leading up to the inauguration, Biden made a series of presentations featuring these men and women from his base in Deleware in which they spoke in general terms of what they intended to do with their different agencies and departments.

Overall, these people bring a wealth of government experience from the Obama and Clinton administrations as well as State and city governments. Three have been State Governors. Three others were Mayors and others have been members of Congress and held other public jobs with public records.

In terms of foreign policy, I have written about Tony Blinken and the likely geopolitical viewpoint of this administration which will stress multilateral solutions but always put the interest of U.S. workers first.

As I have also written, one of the key aspects of the next four years will be a much stronger commitment to the environment in general and de-carbonization in particular. Jennifer Graham, for example, is pending confirmation to be the new Energy Secretary and as a former Governor of Michigan, she sees the shift to electric vehicles as the best way to ensure the future of the U.S. auto industry.

The administration will, at the same time, have a strong focus on job creation and labor. The Commerce Secretary, for example, will likely be Gina Raimundo, former Governor of Rhode Island who also has experience as a venture capitalist and the nominee for Labor is Marty Walsh, the former Mayor of Boston and a lifelong union member.

Rep. Deb Haaland

What is also clear is that Alejandro Mayorkas, who came to the United States with his immigrant parents will change the tone of the country’s immigration policies and Deb Haaland, a Native American member of Congress, will take the department of the interior towards more conservation and respect for native rights.

While the Obama administration was far from perfect, it did manage to get the U.S. out of the mess of the 2009 economic crisis and bring economic indicators and employment to reasonable levels. One view is given by the New Yorker’s John Cassidy just before Trump took office.

My guess is that collectively, Biden’s cabinet will draw on that experience to pull the United States out of the current mess left by Covid-19, the resulting economic collapse, and the administrative chaos produced by Trump’s appointees.

My hope is that the results of all of this, including an economic rebound and the rebuilding of the country’s aging infrastructure, will be clearly visible by the mid-term elections of 2022 such that the Democrats maintain control of the House and Senate and therefore are able to keep up the momentum.