Following a roller-coaster Election Week (it’s no longer accurate to call it Election Day and may not ever be again), it’s official: Come January, President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th commander in chief of the United States of America. Politically speaking, it’s a big swing and, naturally, the business world is waiting to see how the new administration’s policies will impact, well… everything.
Many Americans see this as a fresh start. In that spirit, there are three things the Business Journal’s editorial board would like to see tackled by the new president posthaste.
Biden will be faced with daunting challenges beginning the first day he sets foot in the Oval Office. Many of those challenges (to include the state of the economy) are a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. Biden’s first priority must be to implement a comprehensive plan (it appears his team has already been strategizing) to battle the virus while propping up the economy. The president-elect has said he does not favor shutting down the economy, and there would likely be little compliance even if he did.
Rather, the Biden administration should focus on federal strategies that have been ignored much of this year: creating a robust infrastructure that supports testing, contact tracing and quarantining, while ensuring personnel and federal stockpiles of lifesaving equipment and supplies make it to the states that need them most. The administration must also be prepared to educate the public about a vaccine (once we have one) and ensure it’s accessible to everyone.
As for the economy, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act passed nearly eight months ago. The families and businesses that needed that money (through no fault of their own) have likely spent it. Now, as case counts explode across the country, the existential threat to small businesses is once again very real.
The struggling economy cannot be addressed until the coronavirus is under control, and right now it’s spreading to more than 100,000 people every day. Amid all this uncertainty, there is one thing we know for sure: The vast majority of people will not go out and spend their hard-earned money until they feel safe. And we’re approaching the season when many mom-and-pop retailers enter the black for the year. The next couple months will be very good for Jeff Bezos — not so good for your Downtown.
Therefore, we urge Congress and the Biden administration to prioritize another round of economic stimulus to help those who are most vulnerable. Politicians have been eager to bail out the greatest among us — the banks, airlines and Wall Street — but have largely ignored the pleas of Main Street. Financially supporting the small businesses that drive our economy now will be far more beneficial in the long run than ignoring double-digit unemployment rates, countless foreclosures and bankruptcies. The numbers have spoken: It’s far easier to save an economy from ruin than to rebuild one from scratch.
Finally, the Biden administration can make good on the empty promises of previous administrations and address the infrastructure crisis facing our nation. Our bridges, roads and airports are dated, crumbling and sometimes dangerous. The federal government should consider creating a work program similar to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps and put millions of the unemployed to work rebuilding our country and, most importantly, learning new and critical skills for the workforce of tomorrow.
We are not rounding any corners. We are, in fact, facing crises on multiple fronts. If there ever was a time to set aside differences and realize our country is bigger than those who temporarily take the helm, this is it.
It’s time to get busy.