By Mel Gurtov
In the next several weeks, President-elect Joe Biden will be preoccupied with creating a 100-day action agenda. It might be called “Operation Renewal.” Here are my top-10 choices, in no particular order.
- Develop a public health strategy for containing and rolling back the coronavirus.
- Support a multi-trillion dollar assistance package for economic recovery, with emphasis on relief for renters, unemployed workers, and small businesses.
- Restore US membership in the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization.
- Issue a strong statement in support of racial justice, including explicit condemnation of hate groups.
- Reaffirm support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, opening it to new applications and removing limits on renewal of status.
- On immigration: Halt building of the wall with Mexico, begin dismantling detention facilities (especially those with children), find the parents of unaccompanied children, stop ICE harassment and roundups of undocumented people, respect sanctuary cities, and resume accepting asylum applications. Lift restrictions on immigration from Muslim countries. Restore refugee admissions to their highest level in the Obama years.
- Restore, by executive action, the roughly 100 environmental regulations from the Obama era that Trump rolled back as part of a comprehensive strategy for climate change.
- Restart diplomacy with Iran on the nuclear deal. (Iran’s leader has expressed readiness to do that.)
- Clean house in the departments of justice, state, agriculture, and homeland security, as well as in the Environmental Protection Agency, National Security Agency, and Consumer Protection. Affirm to all professional staff that the nightmare of disrespect and disregard is over.
- Restore sanity to US foreign relations, starting by reaffirming US alliance ties and letting China’s and Russia’s leaders know that the US is prepared to engage on the basis of mutual respect and benefit. Seek Russia’s agreement to extension of the New START (strategic arms).
Of course the to-do list is much, much longer. Student debt, consumer fraud, department of justice independence, Supreme Court expansion, labor and financial regulations, defense of public lands, protection of whistleblowers, back-to-school plan…almost endless. And all of these come down to appointments of people with integrity, experience, and humane values. Fortunately, such people are plentiful. Oh, yes: If Mitch McConnell tries to sideline the appointments, do what Trump did: appoint “acting” secretaries and directors.