Chris lives in San Francisco and hails from Southern California. In his free time, he enjoys reading, running and living vicariously through the women on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. After graduating, he looks forward to catching up on some much-needed sleep.
April 29, 2021
First 100: American Families Plan
On the eve of his 100th day in office, Biden unveiled the American Families Plan in a speech addressed to a joint-session of Congress.
The plan, a $1.8 trillion proposal from the president, comes off the heels of Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan and passed $1.9 billion Covid-relief bill. It focuses largely on education, family support and tax cuts.
Aspects of the proposal regarding tax cuts build largely on components of the American Rescue Plan, making tax credits and lowered health insurance premiums permanent. Biden anticipates paying for this through investing in the Internal Revenue Service to hone in on tax evasion committed by wealthy Americans and raising taxes on them — raising the top marginal income tax rate from 37% to 39.6%, only for those in the top 1%.
Biden also plans on ending special tax breaks for hedge fund partners and real estate investors, as well as taxing unrealized capital gains at death.
The American Families Plan is an investment in our children and our families … together, these plans reinvest in the future of the American economy and American workers, and will help us out-compete China and other countries around the world,” according to the White House Briefing Room.
CLICK: As vice president, Biden described himself as an “ice cream guy.” Hover over each scoop of ice cream to learn about the sweet — pun intended — breakdown of each main component of spending in the American Families Plan.
First 100: Biden hits 200 million shots
The Biden administration hit a new milestone on April 21 — 200 million COVID-19 shots administered to the American public since President Biden’s inauguration.
The achievement is the second goal the administration set within the president’s first 100 days of office. The nation met the first goal of 100 million shots on March 18. These numbers only reflect shots administered starting on Jan. 20, and do not include any shots the public received under former President Trump.
At the time of publication, the Centers for Disease Control states that 43% of the nation has received at least one Covid shot, and 23% are fully vaccinated. Of those vaccinated, 82% of those over the age of 65 have received one shot; 54.5% of those over the age of 18 have received at least one shot.
In San Francisco, 61% of the population has gotten one Covid vaccine. According to Mayor London Breed, the city is on track to have roughly 80% of its population provided at least one shot. In order for the nation to reach a herd immunity of sorts, an estimated 70-85% of the population must be vaccinated.
WATCH: Biden’s goal of administering 200 million shots of Covid vaccines was met roughly a week before his 100th day in office. Watch to see how state and local county vaccination efforts compare and contrast, and how much they contribute to the 200 million milestone.
First 100: Proposed Federal Budget
Biden released a proposed $1.52 trillion outline for the 2022 fiscal year, outlining an overall increase in department spending.
In a letter addressed to Sen. Patrick Leahy and the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 9, Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Shalanda D. Young noted $769 billion in non-defense spending, a 16% increase from FY21. This is comparable to Biden’s proposed $753 billion for national defense programs.
The letter from the OMB states that this seeks to restore non-defense funding to 3.3% of the nation’s gross domestic product — an effort to reverse “a decade of underinvestment in the nation’s most pressing issues.”
Among the various expenses is the largest budget increase for the Centers for Disease Control in roughly two decades — $8.7 billion. This is done in an effort to raise funding to prevent future public health crises, along with expanding services for mental health, HIV/AIDS research and opioid treatment.
Items such as tax proposals and economic projects are not included, but will be in the formal budget plan that the White House is expected to be released in the spring. This budget comes on top of Biden’s already introduced infrastructure plan and covid relief bill, and does not reflect any future efforts.
CLICK: Hover over the “American Pie” to see the breakdown of Biden’s proposed federal budget for FY22. All Cabinet departments are listed, along with main agencies — information has been condensed for clarity.
First 100: Biden announces executive actions on gun control
The orders and legislative proposals include restrictions on “ghost guns” and the appointment of a new director to the ATF
President Biden announced on Thursday his first steps on gun control, which included tighter restrictions on “ghost guns” and pistol braces meant to make the weapon more accurate.
The actions come in response to a month that has experienced two mass shootings — one in Boulder, Colorado, and Atlanta, along with another shooting this past week in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
President Biden’s actions would direct the Department of Justice to come up with a rule in the next 30 days to place tighter restrictions on ghost guns — handmade firearms that do not contain serial numbers. The assembly of these firearms can be made through the use of kits and parts purchased online. Backgrounds checks are also not required when purchasing these kits. The use of ghost guns in crimes has increased with 40% of firearms seized in Los Angeles being the handmade guns.
The DOJ is expected in the next two months to introduce new rules to restrict the sale of pistol stabilizing braces. The ruling would classify the braces as a short-barreled rifle that comes with more tighter background checks under the National Firearms Act. A “red flag law” is also being introduced by the Justice Department to allow states to enact their own gun legislation and allow courts or law enforcement to remove weapons from people deemed a risk to their community.
Additionally, the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives received a new nominee to lead the federal agency, after Biden picked gun control advocate. David Chipman, a 25-year veteran of ATF, has been a strong advocate for gun control in the past few years, currently working as senior policy advisor for gun control organization Giffords. The confirmation of Chipman would make him the first permanent director for ATF since 2015 after previous director’s Byron Todd Jones retirement.
In a press release, Giffords praised the actions of President Biden with founder, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords sharing in a statement.
“Days like today are why we fought so hard to bring a gun safety champion to the White House,” she wrote. “These executive actions help address a crisis that devastates communities across the country on a daily basis. Today we have hope that a brighter future is in store. Thank you, President Biden.”
Other key figures are praising the actions of President Biden as well such as Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who praised the nomination of Chipman as “well qualified.”
The actions of President Biden are not without detractors with gun rights organizations and advocates, expected to mount legal opposition on any measure meant to infringe on their Second Amendment rights. The NRA tweeted criticism of the nomination of Chipman, citing conflict of interest with Chipman’s role in Giffords and junior Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly’s marriage to founder Gabrielle.
The president urged Congress after unveiling his actions to continue with introducing legislation for stricter background checks along with other gun control measures. In a statement, the president offered the following: “They can do it right now. They’ve offered plenty of thoughts and prayers, members of Congress, but they have passed not a single new federal law to reduce gun violence.”
First 100: American Jobs Plan
President Biden unveiled a first-of-its-kind infrastructure plan on March 31, offering both traditional and progressive takes on rebuilding the nation.
The proposal, titled the American Rescue Plan, seeks to spend over $2 trillion “to reimagine and rebuild a new economy,” and promises to create millions of jobs to compete with China, according to the White House Briefing Room.
The plan can largely be broken down into five spending components. These include:
- $621 billion in transportation infrastructure
- $590 billion in domestic manufacturing, research and development, job training initiatives
- $400 billion in expanded home care services and support for care workers
- $328 billion in modernizing federal buildings, schools, childcare facilities
- $311 billion in broadband, clean drinking water, electrical grid
Within this spending, the plan seeks to transition the nation toward an electric vehicle market. Biden hopes to establish 500,000 electric vehicle chargers by 2030 across the country — an effort of the plan to reduce the impacts of climate change. This comes hand-in-hand with Biden’s pledge to cutting the country’s greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
Other notable spending components of the proposal include funding Historically Black College and Universities and minority-serving institutions, in part in an effort to eliminate racial and gender inequities in STEM fields; and developing programs to address inequities brought about through historic transportation investments, such as the building of highways.
The bill has been met with fierce opposition from congressional Republicans, with most Senate Democrats in support of the bill. Moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin referred to Republicans’ counter-offer — $568 billion, a quarter the size of Biden’s and smaller than former President Trump’s $1.5 trillion plan in 2018 — as “a good start.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that the bill is “disappointing” in size, she acknowledged the influence and partial adoption of components of the Green New Deal.
CLICK: See how Biden’s plan, if passed in its entirety, would affect various parts of the nation. Mobile users must download the Google Earth app to view
First 100: Biden signs stimulus package
The House re-approved the American Rescue Plan after key changes made by the Senate
President Joe Biden’s stimulus package was signed into law on Thursday, after the Senate amended and the House re-approved the initial bill. The package will provide support to Americans struggling financially due to the pandemic along with ramping up vaccination measures.
On Wednesday, the House voted 220-211 to pass the American Rescue Plan, leaving the final formalizing step – Biden’s signature. The week prior, the Senate voted 50-49, passing the legislation but making changes to what was originally presented to the House on Feb. 26.
Among the bill’s provisions, the most direct form of stimulus to the American public will be $1,400 checks, sent out to those within the bill’s parameters.
All three votes on the stimulus package were entirely along party lines, and no Republican members of Congress voted in favor of the bill. With the changes made in the Senate, the bill now totals $1.856 trillion, just shy of its original $1.9 trillion price tag.
Key changes were made to appease more conservative Democrats, fearing that the loss of just one vote would kill the package in the 50-50 Senate. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, as well as other moderates, had objections to proposed $400 federal unemployment benefits; conversations among Democrats stemming from this uncertainty resulted in the continuation of the already established $300 weekly benefits. The benefits, however, were extended to Sept. 6, past the original Aug. 29 expiration.
Senate Democrats made an effort to re-include the proposal of a $15 minimum wage, but it was struck down again with a vote of 58-42. According to Dr. John Logan, chair of the labor and employment studies department at SF State, raising the minimum wage would have had a large impact on women and minority communities.
“It would disproportionately benefit women and communities of color because those are the people who are disproportionately represented in lower paying jobs at the bottom of the labor market,” Logan said. “To them it would make a huge, huge difference. It would be an enormous anti-poverty measure that we could take.”
According to Logan, the alternative argument is that raising the minimum wage could be a “job killer” and potentially could more rapidly increase automation in the workforce.
“All of the economic analysis that we have suggest that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would have a very, very small, if any, impact on job growth,” Logan said.
The Senate also included an income tax exemption on student loan forgiveness that will extend through 2025. Currently, if someone is granted student loan forgiveness, they still have to pay income taxes on that forgiven money. Under the changes the Senate made, if any amount of federal student loans are forgiven between 2021 and 2025, they would not be taxed.
According to Dr. Max Lee of SF State’s economics department, this can leave people with student loan debt shocked and facing large unexpected tax hikes. The exemption lasting until 2025 is not a long enough period to make a change in most people’s lives she says.
“It’s not going to have an impact on most people unless the federal government comes in and says we’re going to cancel, say, this much of student debt,” Lee said.
According to Lee, if this exemption is extended beyond 2025, it could make a larger difference, particularly for people who never make enough to fully pay off their student loans over a 25 year period.
Without the exemption, in place Lee said, “At the end of 25 years they get that loan forgiven and all of the sudden you have a bunch of tax you have to pay. You probably wouldn’t have money to pay that back. It could cause a problem for certain groups of people.”
Other changes the Senate made included striking down funding for BART’s Silicon Valley rail extension and Seaway International Bridge that crosses from New York into Canada.
READ: Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the most expensive relief bill in U.S. history, is broken down into various components. The data below, while it reflects some of the largest and most important pieces of spending in the bill, is not entirely comprehensive.
First 100: Sanctions against Myanmar military leaders
Protests emerge in Myanmar demanding the freedom of political leaders
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden declared that he would be imposing new sanctions against Myanmar’s military regime in response to a coup that occurred on Feb 1.
The coup, which resulted in the detainment of Myanmar’s head of state, Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as other political leaders, resulted in thousands of people protesting across the country.
The sanctions will target the business interests of military leaders who directed the coup and their family members. Biden also said that the first round of “targets” will be announced this week.
According to Biden, the sanctions will be careful not to obstruct the support of “healthcare, civil society groups, and other areas that benefit the people of Burma directly.”
In addition, an executive order has been issued by Biden that will prevent Myanmar’s generals from accessing $1 billion in assets from the U.S.
The coup was initiated after the Myanmar government failed to address the military’s claims of voter fraud during the November general election.
It’s being viewed as a violation, a clear violation of human rights.
— Mahmood Monshipouri
“American policymakers, when they talk about imposing sanctions on Myanmar in the name of promoting democracy or punishing human rights violators — this is one thing to consider,” said Mahmood Monshipouri, chair of SF State’s International Relations department. “Are they punishing the people and economic development of the country, or are they punishing the military leaders?”
On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department denounced violence against the demonstrators and repeated calls for the military to restore the democratically elected government.
“It’s being viewed as a violation, a clear violation of human rights,” Monshipouri said.
Myanmar was previously the target of sanctions after attacks against the country’s Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority. As of 2019, over 900,000 Rohingya Muslims had been pushed out of Myanmar and into Bangladesh, where they experienced discrimination and extrajudicial killings.
Monshipouri stated that there is still a debate on the effectiveness of sanctions and how they have been used indiscriminately.
“I often think about sanctions, that if they are not carefully designed to hit the target, you’re collectively punishing the whole nation,” Monshipouri said.
Biden states that his administration will be ready to impose additional measures and continue working with U.S. international partners.
First 100: Biden’s Cabinet
As President Biden continues to adjust to the presidency, he must await the confirmation of his Cabinet – a body consisting of advisers to the president, all of who head their respective departments at the nomination of the president. Biden’s Cabinet, if his initial nominations are to all be confirmed, would be the most diverse Cabinet of any administration – a Cabinet of many firsts.
Click the illustrations to learn more about Biden’s Cabinet nominations. Larger bubbles represent core Cabinet positions; smaller bubbles represent Cabinet-level positions. Those in grey bubbles have yet to be confirmed; those in green bubbles have already been confirmed or selected (not every Cabinet member has to be confirmed); and those in red have been rejected by the Senate.
Illustrations by Samantha Laurey / Golden Gate Xpress
Writing and reporting by Chris Ramirez
First 100: Executive Action Blitz
In the first 10 days of the presidency, President Joe Biden has taken unprecedented use of the executive action. Here’s a recap of some of the most important actions he’s made in these first days of his presidency, and what these decisions mean.
Listen: SF State Professor Charles Postel compares Biden’s initial days of the presidency to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s, whom Biden admitted to studying prior to taking office.
Paris Climate Agreement
- Re-enters the U.S. into the Paris Climate Agreement
Listen: SF State environmental science professor Glenn Fieldman explains the setback Biden and the U.S. face as a result of President Trump’s withdraw from the agreement.
Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government
- Requires the federal government to “pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all.”
- Establishes the White House Domestic Policy Council “to coordinate formulation and implementation of [Biden’s] administration’s domestic policy objectives … to embed equity principles, policies and approaches across the federal government.”
Proclamation on Ending Discriminatory Bans on Entry on Entry to the United States
- Effectively revokes President Donald Trump’s “Muslim travel ban” on seven Muslim-majority nations, also including North Korea and baring certain Venezuelan officials.
- Orders embassies and consulates to “resume visa processing in a manner consistent with the revocation of the executive order and proclamations,” reconsidering all applications submitted while the travel ban was in effect without prejudice.
Listen: SF State international relations professor Sanjoy Banerjee weighs in on the implications of the travel ban.
Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing
- Requires federal employees to comply with CDC guidelines in wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, among other various public health measures.
- Health and Human Services to “engage [with the public] … with the goal of maintaining public compliance with, and addressing any obstacles to, mask-wearing and other public health best practices identified by the CDC.”
- Establishes the Safer Federal Workforce Taskforce and requires a testing plan submitted by HHS.
Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis
- Places a temporary moratorium on federal government activities relating to the Costal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
- Revokes the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.
Watch: Students across Bay Area campuses rallied together in San Francisco in March 2014 to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Letter to António Guterres
- Rescinds withdrawal from World Health Organization.
Executive Order on Ensuring a Lawful and Accurate Enumeration and Apportionment Pursuant to the Decennial Census
- Requires, under the 14th Amendment, that the census is “to include all persons whose usual place of residence was in that state as of the designated census date, regardless of their immigration status.”
Listen: SF State political science professor Ron Hayduk explains the importance of the census, and the consequences of what a failure to reverse President Trump’s actions could have meant for undocumented residents in the Bay Area.
Pausing Federal Student Loan Payment
- Extends moratorium at an interest rate of zero.
Proclamation on the Termination of Emergency with Respect to the Southern Border of the United States and Redirection of Funds Diverted to Border Wall Construction
- Seeks to divest border wall funds to other interests.
Watch: The Kumeyaay Tribe protests border wall construction in July 2020 (uploaded Sept. 2020).
Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel
- Requires mask-wearing on public transportation.
- Requires travelers to the U.S. to provide a negative COVID-19 test prior to entry, in addition to complying with CDC guidelines.
Preserving and Fortifying Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Read: Second federal judge orders the restoration of DACA
Executive Order on Strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act
- Opens a special enrollment period “for uninsured and under-insured Americans to seek coverage through the Federally Facilitated Marketplace.”
Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI)
- HHS to “consider issuing guidance describing best practices for advancing cultural competency, language access and sensitivity” toward AAPI communities.
- All federal departments and agencies to ensure official language does not exhibit racism, xenophobia or intolerance.
- The attorney general to expand opportunities to support AAPI communities and to expand data collection regarding hate incidents.
Listen: SF State Asian American Studies chair, and leader for the Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander Hate initiative, Russell Jeung comments on President Trump’s anti-Asian rhetoric, and what Biden’s memorandum could mean for the initiative.
Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships
- Reaffirms policy of “including Tribal voices in policy deliberation that affects Tribal communities.”
Executive Order on Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve their Country in Uniform
- Revokes the Presidential Memorandum of March 23, 2018, affirming that “permitting transgender individuals to serve openly in the military was consistent with military readiness and with strength through diversity.”
Listen: SF State political science professor and Palm Center Director Aaron Belkin comments on the “mixed messaging” Biden’s executive order means for LGBTQ+ individuals.
Executive Order on Reforming Our Incarceration System to Eliminate the Use of Privately Operated Detention Facilities
- States that the attorney general is to not renew the Department of Justice’s contracts with private criminal detention facilities.
Memorandum on Protecting Women’s Health at Home and Abroad
- Revokes the Presidential Memorandum of January 23, 2017 — also referred to as the “Mexico City Policy” — which prohibits the nongovernmental organizations from using federal funding “to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning, or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.”
First 100: Immigration Reform
Editor’s Note: On Feb. 18, the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 was formally introduced to Congress. Read more about Biden’s remarks on its introduction here.
Now-President Joe Biden introduced a legislative proposal to Congress prior to taking his oath of office on Inauguration Day, which would provide an eight-year path to citizenship for over 10 million undocumented immigrants in the country if passed through both houses.
The bill, entitled the “U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021,” is part of a campaign pledge to “forcefully pursue policies that safeguard our security, provide a fair and just system that helps to grow and enhance our economy, and secure our cherished values,” according to his presidential campaign website.
If signed into law, the citizenship act would first put undocumented migrants, who came to the U.S. prior to Jan. 1, in a temporary status; after five years, this would be followed by then distributing green cards to those who meet certain requirements; and after three years, recipients would be eligible to apply for citizenship. For “dreamers” of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, green card eligibility would be immediate.
Listen: SF State political science professor Ron Hayduk explains what Biden has learned from his time under the Obama administration, and what this bill means moving forward
The president also seeks to expand on the use of technology along the border for security purposes, to create reunification and refugee programs, and work with Central America countries to create policies that tackle root issues of migration in those nations.
As vice president, Biden worked closely with the Northern Triangle — Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador — forming the North Triangle Joint statement, which formalized the U.S.’ interest in addressing the region’s economic and security stability.
“Biden has an opportunity to really be a great president, and the Biden administration has a real opportunity to make a tremendous impact,” SF State political science professor Ron Hayduk said. “And it would really necessitate something like a Marshall Plan for Central America, for Mexico, for some of the developing world, essentially, to stem the tide.”
According to Roberto Suro, a USC public policy professor interviewed by the LA Times, it is not likely that the bill will be seen in Congress until the fall, at the earliest.
Chris lives in San Francisco and hails from Southern California. In his free time, he enjoys reading, running and living vicariously through the women on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. After graduating, he looks forward to catching up on some much-needed sleep.