What will Biden do first? ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 

January 20, 2021

Understand more. Argue less.

Good morning. Whether you’re celebrating or lamenting, it’s a big day. At noon EST, Joseph R. Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Let’s break down what happens after that.

Also, let us know what you think of the narratives and final section changes!

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Presidential Preview

Kevin Lenthe

The oldest (almost) President in history is ready to hit the ground running, with four big priorities for the first few weeks of his administration: COVID-19, economic recovery, climate change, and racial inequity.

With the pandemic showing no signs of letting up, Biden unveiled his COVID-19 relief bill last Thursday. Named “American Rescue Plan,” it costs $1.9 trillion, twice as much as the 2009 economic recovery bill. It includes $1,400 checks for most Americans, a plan to administer 100 million vaccines by his 100th day in office, and an increase in minimum wage to $15, among others directives.

However, Biden needs 10 Republicans on board to pass the “Rescue Plan” in its current form. As a result, there will likely be some revisions to the plan itself (we’ll get to that later). According to a memo from his incoming Chief of Staff, Ron Klain, Biden plans to use executive orders to pass some of his other policy priorities in the meantime.

Here’s what else you need to know.

The Facts

  • What are executive orders (EOs)? Directives issued by the President without Congressional approval and carry the rule of law. However, an executive order can be overturned if Congress passes a competing bill or a judicial review finds it unconstitutional. President Trump issued 210 executive orders as of January 14. (Federal Register)

  • COVID EOs. Biden is set to pass issue EOs that extend the pause on student loan payments, prevent foreclosures for those unable to pay rent, and aim to reopen schools and expand testing. (AP)

  • Non-COVID EOs. The most significant will reverse the travel ban on several predominantly Muslim countries, rejoin the Paris Climate Accords, and order agencies to organize reuniting children separated from their families after crossing the border. (AP)

  • Biden’s other objectives. Soon-to-be President Biden is also looking to get rid of a loophole that prevents individuals from suing gun manufacturers, reverse Trump’s 2017 tax cuts for corporations and wealthy Americans, and provide an 8-year pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants. (AP, CBSNews)


How It's Being Spun

Katherine Chuang

Here are the narratives from both sides, along with supporting headlines and article snippets. These are not necessarily factual, but instead illustrate the news coverage that solidifies the narrative from each side. The bias ratings refer to news outlets as a whole, not a specific article.

Narrative from the Left

The day has finally come; the country will no longer be run through Twitter. After four long years of an incompetent and erratic president, the dog-and-pony show has left the White House. However, our country is still deep in crisis and the real work is just beginning. There’s still a long way to go before we can truly pop the champagne.

Supporting Headlines

‘He Was Just Everywhere’: A Tired Country After Four Years of Trump

Trump Was the Ringmaster In The Demise of His Own Circus’

Biden Transition Finds Coronavirus Denial Throughout Trump's Federal Government

Narrative from the Right

Biden is already making a joke of the executive branch. Instead of focusing on qualifications, he’s nominating a Cabinet based on an Affirmative Action checklist. We’re already seeing plans for more attacks on small business, this time in the form of a $15 minimum wage that only Jeff Bezos can pay. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. 

Supporting Headlines

A $15 Minimum Wage Doesn’t Belong In A COVID-Relief Plan

The Democratic Reign Of Terror Has Just Begun

Joe Biden Eyes Executive Orders As 'Common Ground' Remains Ever Elusive

But, It's Not All Bias 

Sometimes, the news gets it right. Here are two cases where traditionally biased news outlets reported with relative objectivity, conceding a point to the other side's narrative.

‘A Fitting Way To Start To Heal’: Biden Volunteers At Philadelphia Food Bank On MLK Day

The Daily Caller deviates from the predominate Right narrative that says Biden is all bad for the country. They don't so far as to say he'll be a good President, but reporting on his good deeds is refreshing. (Daily Caller)

Antony Blinken, Joe Biden's State Department Pick, Says Donald Trump 'Got It Right' on China

Newsweek concedes a point to the Right's narrative that says Trump isn't getting the credit he deserves. It's a far cry from celebrating him, but covering a Biden Cabinet member praising Trump is a step in the right direction. (Newsweek)


What Does It All Mean?

Depending on where you get your news, the implications of Biden’s inauguration may sound something like this...

  • If your news outlets lean left, you're excited that real progress is finally possible. You feel relieved that the damaging policies Trump signed into law could be overturned soon. The racist and archaic laws that prohibited entry into the United States will finally be repealed. The COVID-19 relief that we desperately need will no longer be stymied by incompetence and a disregard for science. Calmer hands have finally taken the wheel.

  • If your news outlets lean right, you think that Biden’s Cabinet picks and policy proposals are prioritizing the Left’s agenda instead of what the country needs. You’re witnessing an attempt to erase the legacy of President Trump who, even as his term ends, has never been afforded the respect he deserves. Proponents of Biden’s plans are unprepared for the consequences of these dramatic changes; higher costs for small business, increasing federal debt, and more unnecessary lockdowns.

As you've probably heard, two wins in Georgia earlier this month gave Democrats control of the Senate with Vice President Harris as the tiebreaking vote. Barring any Democratic defections, that simple majority (50-50) will enable Biden to confirm his Cabinet and judicial picks. It also means he can pass special budget-related legislation: certain elements of his COVID-19 bill, repealing some of Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, or increasing federal healthcare spending. 

However, that slim majority makes passing the entirety of Biden’s COVID-19 bill (which requires a 60-vote majority) a tall order. Hitting that magic vote number will be especially difficult as the bill doesn’t contain Republican priorities like minimum wage stability and liability protections for small businesses. The near-stalemate in the Senate also means that getting the 60 votes needed to pass progressive priorities like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal will be that much harder.

Executive orders and legislation aside, one thing is for certain: Joe Biden will begin his Presidency in a few short hours. Here’s to hoping the day passes without any complications.


What Else We're Following

  • The US passed 400,000 coronavirus deaths yesterday. (AP)

  • Over 25,000 National Guardsmen are stationed in Washington, D.C. for Inauguration Day to quell any potential violence. (ABC News)

  • U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan are now at 2,500, the lowest level since 2001. (The American Conservative)

  • America’s schools need thousands more full-time and substitute teachers to remain open. (New York Times)

Finally, some good news

Patches the cat went missing in January 2018 when a mudslide demolished the home she shared with her owner, Josie Gower. Josie didn't make it, and everyone thought Patches was a goner too. They were wrong. Three years later, the cat came back to Briana (Josie’s daughter) just before the three-year anniversary of her mother’s passing. “I know my mom would be really happy,” Briana said. (Good News Network)

Have a great week. We'll see you next Wednesday!

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