All presidents come into office vowing to rapidly put into effect an ambitious agenda. But for Joseph R. Biden Jr., the raging coronavirus pandemic and the economic pain it is causing mean many things must get done quickly if he wants to get the economy going. In a speech Thursday on his $1.9 trillion spending proposal, Mr. Biden repeatedly stressed the need to act “now.”
But piecing together a majority in Congress could take time: Compromises and concessions will be needed to get the votes he will need to advance legislation.
The new president is expected to reverse many of Donald J. Trump’s policies that undid those of the Obama administration, in which Mr. Biden was vice president. But in some areas crucial to business — like trade relations with China and the European Union — he probably will not return the United States to the pre-Trump order. Nor is he likely to back off from the Trump administration’s efforts to curb the power of large technology firms.
Here are some policy areas that will demand Mr. Biden’s attention, and determine the success of his presidency.
— Peter Eavis
Fixing the Economy
Twelve years ago, President Barack Obama inherited an economy in free fall. Mr. Biden has better luck: The economy has rebounded significantly from the collapse last spring, in large part because of trillions of dollars in federal aid. Progress has slowed in recent months, however, and in December, it went into reverse as employers cut jobs in the face of the resurgent pandemic.
Mr. Biden’s first job will be to right the ship, something he proposes to do via a $1.9 trillion spending plan he announced last week. Once the immediate crisis passes, Mr. Biden will face a perhaps even more difficult set of challenges: healing the scars that the pandemic has left on families and communities, and addressing the deep-seated issues of inequality that have existed for decades but that the pandemic laid bare.
— Ben Casselman
Tackling Big Tech
The recent decisions by Facebook, Twitter and other technology companies to cut off President Trump and right-wing groups sharply escalated the debate over online speech and the influence of Silicon Valley.
At the center of the debate is a law known as Section 230, which absolved websites of legal responsibility for the content they host. Republicans and some Democrats are calling to revise or revoke the law, while the powerful tech companies will probably resist major changes. The Biden administration also inherits the federal government’s antitrust lawsuits against Google and Facebook, and a Congress that continues to scrutinize the industry’s might.
— Cecilia Kang
Mr. Biden has repeatedly declared that the federal tax code favors the rich and large corporations, and has proposed several measures to make them pay more, to finance spending on clean energy, infrastructure, education and other parts of his domestic agenda. He wants to roll back some of Mr. Trump’s 2017 tax…
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