A Democratic agenda for impossibly hard times

A Democratic agenda for impossibly hard times
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The horror of last week will haunt Americans for quite some time. Those events come as no surprise to some who have been paying attention, and they leave America with much work to do in the hope of healing a broken nation.

House Democrats have drawn up articles of impeachment for the second time. They will be presented as early as Monday on charges of “Incitement of Insurrection,” while Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Myanmar military conducts violent night raids Confidence in coronavirus vaccines has grown with majority now saying they want it MORE and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package It will be Vice (or) President Harris against Gov. DeSantis in 2024 — bet on it Trump sued by Democrat over mob attack on Capitol MORE face challenges that an incoming administration have not seen in recent history. For those who thought Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaWhy is Joe Biden dodging the public and the press? Here's who Biden is now considering for budget chief Pentagon issues report revealing ex-White House doctor 'belittled' subordinates, violated alcohol policies MORE had it bad on Day One when taking over a catastrophic financial crisis, 2021 is saying the proverbial “Hold my beer.”

Tuesday evening’s double Democratic victory in Georgia’s Senate runoffs for the Rev. Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockAdvocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout 'Bloody Sunday' to be commemorated for first time without John Lewis LeBron James's More Than A Vote ad campaign focuses on defending voting rights MORE and Jon OssoffJon OssoffAdvocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout Klain on Harris breaking tie: 'Every time she votes, we win' Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee MORE may make political life for Democrats easier, but in no way does it mean that things will be comfortable. A shattered economy and a country that is losing as many as 4,000 of its citizens each day to a deadly virus is a test for the ages.


It follows that there are several areas that need Democrats’ attention right away. The top five areas of focus should be: vaccine distribution, economic relief, immigration, restorative justice, and addressing President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE’s executive orders. 

Vaccines don’t save lives — vaccinations do, says the old public health adage, and we undoubtedly are losing the vaccination battle in spectacular fashion, especially compared to countries such as Israel, which has vaccinated well over 10 percent of its population, compared to fewer than 6 million Americans. Biden will ask Congress right away for the financial wherewithal to fix this gaping hole in Operation Warp Speed, and he plans to release nearly all available doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. His plan is to see 100 million vaccinations administered in his first 100 days by using the Defense Production Act. 

Under Democrats, no first doses would be wasted waiting for production of the second dose, a serious problem currently. An Annals of Internal Medicine model supports Biden’s distribution plan and, without any unforeseen production issues, we could meet the 100 million vaccinated in 100 days goal. Further, teachers will be prioritized for the vaccine so that kids can return to school as soon as possible.

Looking at the results out of Georgia, no one — including soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package GOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Senate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote MORE (R-Ky.) — can deny the importance of getting cash assistance to the American people. The U.S. economy lost an astounding 140,00 jobs in December, a clear indication that things are getting worse. Only 55 percent of jobs lost in March and April have returned. Nearly 10 million jobs still need to come back. Americans need an immediate cash infusion. Biden promised that $2,000 checks would “go out the door” if Democrats won Georgia. We did win, and now the money can go out, along with billions of dollars in aid to city and state governments, under Biden’s new stimulus plan.

Biden and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump White House associate tied to Proud Boys before riot via cell phone data Greene sounds off on GOP after Hill story 'Bloody Sunday' to be commemorated for first time without John Lewis MORE (D-Calif.) have made it no secret that a comprehensive immigration plan is a priority for them. In a news conference on Friday, Biden said plainly, “I will introduce an immigration bill immediately” and ensure that the Justice Department, led by his nominee, Judge Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandSenate to vote next week on Garland's AG nomination Biden's justice reform should influence prosecutor appointments Politics in the Department of Justice can be a good thing MORE, determines responsibility for Trump’s family separation program that resulted in 2,600 kids having been taken from their caregivers. Other crucial aspects of Democrats’ immigration agenda will be to legislate a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) youths and to overturn Trump’s ban on immigration from Muslim-majority nations. 


Moreover, according to estimates, we could see up to 140,000 immigrants cross the border under a Biden administration, while also investing $4 billion to create jobs in Central America to help tamp down the number of economic refugees. Immigrants make America stronger. Democrats will make that known in their immigration policy.

If there is any issue that has taken on unexpected prominence in 2020, it’s racial justice. After a long summer of protesting in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, racial justice catapulted to a top priority for a plurality of Americans and a top-three issue for more than half of Black Americans. The Democrats are ready to meet the moment. Advancing racial justice is one of the cornerstones of Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan. Proposals to reform policing in America, address the racial gaps in wealth, opportunity and jobs through small business creation and expansion are critical, and are a shared priority of the administration and Congress. Expect big change in this area, potentially with the support of centrist  Republicans who worked on criminal justice reform under Trump. 

Biden has said that he plans to overturn as many Trump executive orders as he can — and as fast as possible. With a Senate majority, Democrats will turn to the Congressional Review Act to start chipping away at Trump’s policies. The truth is that, besides the 2017 tax cuts, Trump actually did very little with congressional support. Expect the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate and the World Health Organization immediately. Biden will address the so-called “global gag rule” that limits federal funding to family planning institutions. Unions will get a boost because he can overturn orders regulating collective bargaining negotiations and limiting union activities. In health care, Biden can extend the enrollment period for ObamaCare and use the waiver process to help states expand Medicaid coverage. Kiss the ban on transgender people serving in the military goodbye, too. 

Decisions regarding the extent to which Congress should pursue investigations into Trump, his officials and associates also will figure prominently into Democrats’ agenda. But nothing serves the public better than getting cash into their bank accounts and life-saving medicine into their arms. Biden and his party know this. Their agenda reflects the most important priorities of the American populace. I, for one, can’t wait to have a president and political leadership that prioritizes the many over the few.

Jessica Tarlov is head of research at Bustle Digital Group and a Fox News contributor. She earned her Ph.D. at the London School of Economics in political science. Follow her on Twitter @JessicaTarlov.