Eight Things Joe Biden Could Do To Be A Non-Horrendous President

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2021/01/18/eight-things-joe-biden-could-do-to-be-a-non-horrendous-president/

Former vice president Joe Biden is scheduled to take over as the 46th President of the United States this week.

It’s unfortunate to see a liberal Democrat in power. Biden supports a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants living in the United States — whether that’s 11 million, 14 million, or 22 million people. He supports repealing the Hyde Amendment, which would allow women to use Medicaid to pay for abortions everywhere in the country; the Hyde Amendment saves an estimated 50,000 babies’ lives each year. And his health care policy would surely drive up the cost of coverage for the average family, the way Obamacare doubled premiums.

Will the Biden presidency be good for America? With those policy priorities, probably not.

Yet how much damage Biden will be able to do is unclear. The Democratic Party only has a 50-50 edge in the U.S. Senate with vice president-elect Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaker; it’s possible Biden won’t be able to accomplish as much as he hopes. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) says he opposes eliminating the Senate filibuster, so for the time being, at least, a simple majority won’t be enough to pass most bills. 

It’s clear the 78-year-old Biden probably won’t be a good president, but he could avoid the ranks of James Buchanan and company. To do that, however, he would need to limit his ambitions and work on behalf of all Americans. And he has some non-disastrous policy analysis to draw on.

Here are eight policy decisions Biden could make almost by himself and thereby make America better.


1.  Bring the Troops Home

For starters, Biden isn’t as hawkish as many in the Democratic establishment. He voted against the first Iraq war in 1991. He opposed taking out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya in 2011, one of the worst mistakes of the Obama administration. There are now slave auctions in the streets in that country as a result.

Sure, Biden voted for the second Iraq War in 2002, another disastrous decision. Yet he seems to have learned from his mistake — he even tried to cover it over during the most recent presidential campaign.

If Biden can end U.S. involvement in the Afghanistan War, the Syrian Civil War, and the Yemeni Civil War — and do it quickly — that would be great. Our country hasn’t made much progress in Afghanistan in the past 19 years, and Bashar Al-Assad, unfortunately, might be the least bad option in Syria. And can anyone even tell us what our interest is in Yemen? If Biden can save American lives and prevent people more soldiers from getting PTSD, that’s a win.


2.  Licensing Reform

Something else Biden should pursue is occupational licensing reform.

Biden surprised some when he brought up the need to reduce burdensome licensing requirements in a union hall in Pittsburgh in the spring of 2019. He also received applause from the crowd, according to Real Clear Politics.

Biden seems to understand that a government-issued license shouldn’t be necessary to be a barber or braid hair. Occupational licensing is largely a state issue, but licensing boards that feature active industry professionals “are subject to federal antitrust laws,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. One can argue about the federal government’s proper role here, but if Biden and a bipartisan coalition can lead a movement to lower barriers to entry in some professions and create more jobs in the process, that’s a win.


3.  Made In America

Biden could also keep his promise to put America first when it comes to manufacturing. He has emphasized “buying American,” a popular idea that may have helped propel him to victory. (At one point last year he sounded like he was trying to out-Trump Trump.) If he can keep that promise, it would help the country.

Biden says he doesn’t like that products can say “made in America” on them even if only 51 percent of the material used to make it is from our country. He also says he wants the federal government to buy American-made products, creating manufacturing jobs in our country. He has even talked about a 10 percent tax penalty for U.S. companies that take their businesses offshore and a 10 percent tax credit for those who create jobs domestically. He also says he wants to close offshore tax loopholes that prevent companies from being taxed on all of their foreign profits.

It’s unclear how successful his efforts will be — or if he will even make any efforts — but if he succeeds with these goals he will deserve credit.


4.  Pro-American Trade Deals

Speaking of industrial policy, Biden will have a major role in negotiating a post-Brexit trade deal with the United Kingdom. Biden’s record on trade is poor. He supported NAFTA and wanted China to join the World Trade Organization. Perhaps Biden 6.0 can come up with something that creates jobs for both countries, as President Donald Trump did when replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.


5.  De-Fang Liquor

On social policy, Biden looks like a disaster about to happen. But there is a chance he won’t be as bad as he might be.

It’s possible that unpopularity and discord will save Biden from some of his worst policy positions. He’ll have trouble scrapping the Hyde Amendment (which prevents federal funding for abortion and which he supported his entire time in the U.S. Senate). He also may have trouble enacting the so-called Equality Act, which would elevate so-called gender identity to a protected class. Perhaps his official positions are lip service meant to appease the fringes of his party, which control much of the enthusiasm in the Democratic Party but relatively little of its popularity.

A potential upside? Biden doesn’t drink alcohol. (Like Trump.) Could he be the president to ban booze ads from television? The World Health Organization, for all its flaws, says it’s a good idea to deter use, and reducing alcoholism is one way to fight the opioid epidemic — since one thing sometimes leads to another.

Back in 2000, a study showed that 67 percent of adults favored banning liquor ads while 61 percent felt the same way about beer and wine ads. Regardless of how the public feels now, Biden should do what’s right to limit harm to the American people.


6.  Keep Piling On Against Smoking

It’s hard to see Biden, who took more than $55,000 from Big Tobacco, doing anything serious to curb tobacco use. However, one of former President Barack Obama’s first actions in office was regressively increasing the excise tax on tobacco, and Biden has said that he wants to ban vaping. Here’s a better idea for Biden:  have the Federal Communications Commission ban smoking on television and wield the power of the state against the Motion Picture Association.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that if the Motion Pictures Association gives an R rating to all future movies with smoking it would cut down on teen smoking by 18 percent and prevent up to one million smoking deaths among people who are alive today.

The Motion Pictures Association argues that the government requiring an R rating for tobacco use violates free speech. What an entertaining fight that would be to watch:  liberal Hollywood defending actions that kill people from a Democratic president trying to save lives.


7.  Maintain Borders

On immigration, the Democratic Party’s goals are disastrous, including those professed by Biden. But he has one border security idea that isn’t terrible:  a so-called smart wall.

Biden and the Democrats, unfortunately, oppose physical barriers and support bad immigration policies, but the use of cameras and thermal imaging to prevent some people from crossing the border isn’t a bad idea. It has potential the help Border Patrol on both sides of the U.S. border, specifically the porous Canadian side.

If we can’t have more physical barriers under a Biden administration or a more restrictive immigration and visa policy, we might as well take something that moves the country in the proper direction. Consider this:  in six months from October 2017 to March 2018, U.S. border patrol agents stopped 91 people on terrorism watch lists from crossing over into the United States from Canada.


8.  More Money, More Goodies, Less Government

To please the Left, maybe Biden could raise the federal minimum wage by two or three bucks an hour (it hasn’t gone up from $7.25 an hour since 2009 despite inflation), decriminalize marijuana possession for personal use at the federal level (phasing out incarceration), and create a free online college program for far less than the nearly $70 billion in-person education would cost the state and federal governments each year. These aren’t conservative ideas, to be sure, but they aren’t as destructive as many left-wing goals and may have some beneficial results.


Back To Reality

Odds are, Biden won’t govern from this sort of a pragmatic centrist standpoint. The left wing of the Democratic Party has its hooks in him, and it’s unclear how much power in his own administration Biden will actually have.

But if Biden took these non-radical steps, he could be a palatable president — for as long as his abilities last. He might even cruise to that second term he says he isn’t going to run for.

A better option for the country is that Biden serves one term and leaves. But if he’s going to be president, as Americans we should hope that life gets at least a little better for the American people.