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Advice for Biden’s first 100 days: bring in new perspectives and focus on the possible

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Joe Biden signs his first executive order in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. 

President Joe Biden will be under pressure from a restless electorate to make good on his campaign promises. And Biden got to work quickly on his first full day in office, signing a flurry of executive actions and signaling his top Congressional priorities, from the economy to immigration.

We asked Northeastern faculty experts to predict what Biden will attempt in his first 100 days—and what’s in the realm of the possible— on the economy, health care, and social justice causes. Comments were edited for brevity and clarity.

“We’re going to need another fiscal relief package early on.”

Bob Triest, chair of the Department of Economics

The number one thing that Biden can do to improve economic performance is to address the pandemic surge. The reason the economy is so slow is that it’s not safe right now for people to be going to bars and movie theaters and concerts. The economy really can’t improve until the pandemic is back under control.

Biden should band together with Congressional Republican leaders as well as Democrats—and show bipartisan support for things like mask-wearing, social distancing, and, if necessary, further restrictions on social gatherings and business operations. If he can get the infections down, and we have most of the population vaccinated by the end of June, then we won’t be back to normal, but we’ll be back to a state where people feel a lot more comfortable going to businesses and spending their money.

We’re also going to need another fiscal relief package early on. There needs to be a safety net for the unemployed who cannot, for whatever reason, get back to work. I’m really hopeful Biden will be able to negotiate something to get that through. There are actually a number of areas of bipartisan cooperation in the $900 billion package that just passed, so there is some grounds for hope there.

Picking Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary is another area of compromise. Republicans know her. The message that Biden is sending with her appointment is that he values competence, experience, and sound judgment over ideology or party connections.

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