Reyna: Establishing priorities for the Biden-Harris administration


Courtesy of The Sunday Guardian

The Biden-Harris administration seeks to lead the U.S. both out of a pandemic and toward greater unity.

Christian Reyna, Staff Columnist

Courtesy of The Sunday GuardianJust last month, we inaugurated President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris—making history and breaking glass ceilings. The inauguration brought forth a new vision for America as we try to heal from the consequences and legacy of the previous administration. It was a day that brought forth in me a new sense of relief that I will have a president and vice-president that will tackle our nation’s problems with ideals that are somewhat similar to mine.

Although this new administration is an improvement from the last by seeking to unite the country after a tumultuous (not to mention, deadly) four years, we can’t let ourselves become too comfortable with everything they do. We must hold the new president accountable for his actions and inactions. Just because he isn’t former President Trump doesn’t mean he gets a free pass. If President Biden really wants to make a difference, then he must listen to his fellow Americans and usher in dramatic change. 

Herein, I will consider the most pressing issues facing the Biden-Harris administration, and how they might effectively address them.  

One year ago, I never would have guessed the drastic impact of COVID-19 on my daily life. Many months have passed since then, and we do have some rays of light. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been administered to frontline workers, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions around the country. Vaccine distribution, however, has been abysmal. Biden’s plan to administer 100 million doses in 100 days is a good start, but we must aim for higher numbers. 

Vaccines are critical to slow the spread of COVID-19, and if we want to return to normal life as soon as possible, then the Biden administration must push for more vaccines to be distributed. Biden must also push the agenda of social distancing and mask-use around the country to prevent further, unnecessary spread of the virus. Lastly, Biden needs to push for a comprehensive COVID-relief package immediately. He has been vocal about such a policy, but this needs to translate into legislative action. COVID-19 control has to be a priority, if not the single most important priority, right now.

Moreover, as university students, we should be concerned about Biden’s plans and actions on education-related issues. There has been a recent push to relieve some student debt, a statement that has been reiterated by the White House Press Secretary. This is a good start. 

Over 40 million people have accrued $1.6 trillion in student debt, making it a critical social—as well as economic—issue for the Biden-Harris administration to address. The faster the student debt is eliminated, the faster we can contribute to the economy, as we are no longer focusing on repaying that debt. 

Biden should also look into making community colleges more affordable, or even tuition-free. Community colleges provide a means for all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, to access higher education. 

We can be hopeful that educational issues will be addressed in due time, considering First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s role as an educator herself. She can provide input to better our education system and spark a real change in higher education. A lot can be accomplished in four years.

Another elephant to address: Our country is clearly divided. The insurrection on Jan. 6 showed a terrible view of our country to the entire world. The images from that day still haunt me. I can’t believe that it is my country, in which I was born and raised, and the country which gave my parents hope for their children when they immigrated from Mexico. I can’t imagine what the lawmakers and staffers inside the Capitol must’ve been feeling during that terrifying time. 

We need to find common ground, and fast. Otherwise, our democracy will crumble and we won’t be able to rebuild it back to its former glory. President Biden desperately needs to find a way to unite everyone again while denouncing those who encouraged the divide.

Working across the aisle can seem like a daunting task, especially now, but we need to work together. However, we can’t work together with lawmakers who encouraged such an insurrection and want to forget about it. We must hold these politicians accountable, and give them a lesson that extremist views will never unite us.

Lastly, I believe that Biden should bring back a sense of normalcy to the Oval Office. He must establish traditions that were forgotten under the Trump administration and provide an image to the world that the United States is stable and a shining example of democracy. The president should work to reestablish international relations while still asserting American ideals. If we want to be the pinnacle of democracy and freedom we used to be, then it has to start from the highest office.

There are multiple issues that President Biden should focus on, but the ones I have outlined should have priority in the first 100 days. His administration has a lot of work to do and many problems to address, but I am confident that they’ll be able to do it. However, if Biden fails to follow-through on his promises, then we must hold him accountable. Let’s remember that we settled for Biden, now we must ensure he provides substantial change.