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By Tom McDonald
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Opinion: Biden is laying out his priorities

 

Last updated 2/16/2021 at 2:08pm



Maybe you heard him saying it on his virtual campaign trail, or maybe you heard the media chatter during his flurry of first-week executive orders: President Biden is focusing his efforts on “four converging crises” — the pandemic, the economy, climate change and racial injustice.

Let’s take a quick look at each and where they’re heading.

If we weren’t such a divided nation perhaps we could have tackled the pandemic more effectively to this point, but of course we are and we didn’t. After a sluggish rollout of the vaccines, both in manufacturing and distribution, it’s finally picking up steam in getting shots into arms.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that masks aren’t as political as they were last year. The anti-maskers still exist, but they don’t have a leader anymore — leaving them “exposed” in more ways than one.

If Biden can make good on his goal of 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office, he’ll score a lot of points with the American people — and give him more political muscle to address the economic crisis this pandemic brought on.

From the beginning of his takeover as president, Biden has made it clear he’s willing to pile more deficit spending on top of the multi-trillion dollar Republicans’ deficit. That may help in the short-term but it’ll leave the dollar weakened. With all the money being pumped into the national economy, inflation will soon devalue the dollar, and it will take a sizable redistribution of wealth to offset such circumstances.

Expect tax increases on big business and the super-wealthy — but, more importantly, we need a carbon tax. That’s a tax on the burning of fossil fuels (mainly oil, gas and coal) to offset the real costs of greenhouse gas emissions while also providing a financial incentive to switch to cleaner alternatives.

Previously derided for the shock it would impose on the larger economy, it’s now gaining in popularity. It has been recognized by the Federal Reserve as a viable approach to combat climate change, while the United Nations has been pushing for a while to create an international carbon tax.

If we’re going to get serious about mitigating this existential crisis, we can’t just revive the 2019 economy, we’ve got to create a new, cleaner economy — and the Biden administration recognizes this. That’s at the core of his “build back better” slogan.

As for the racial injustices of our time, that might just be the toughest crisis to overcome.

For a while, right after George Floyd was brutally murdered on a Minneapolis street, it seemed as if white people were waking up to the brutalities against African Americans and other minorities. But then came Trump’s insurrection and we saw white supremacy raise its ugly head once again.

Now we have two disenfranchised groups — poor people and minorities, who have been victimized through no fault of their own, and whites who feel threatened by their loss of power and respect.

One of these groups has a legitimate complaint; systemic racism still plagues our nation and will continue to haunt us until real, systemic reforms are imposed.

The other group, which I’d say were only recently “disenfranchised,” showed themselves in the nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6. They need to be held accountable for their own actions — not just for the coup they attempted but for the social and racial injustices they’ve embraced so enthusiastically.

Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange. Contact him at:

[email protected]

 
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