President-Elect Biden's First Obstacle: Messaging

As the Biden administration moves into their first 100 days, clear messaging is going to be a vital key to success.

President-Elect Biden's First Obstacle: Messaging
Photo Credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday night in a prime time address, President-elect Joe Biden unveiled what would be his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, and it’s a good one. Let’s take a look at the provisions:

  • $400 federal unemployment benefits through September (gig workers, freelancers, and people who have exhausted their state benefits will get an extension until September)

  • $350 billion for emergency funding for state and local governments/ $400 billion to help underserved communities

  • Expanding the child tax credit

  • A raise of the national minimum wage to $15 an hour

  • $160 billion for an actual national vaccine program (includes an expansion in testing and a public jobs program)/ $20 billion for vaccines to try to ensure these are free/$40 billion going towards more protective equipment.

  • Sick leave for 14 weeks/ $1,400 leave benefit

  • Temporary expansion of tax credits and making them refundable

  • $170 billion for schools and colleges to help them with reopening

  • $30 billion in rental assistance and an extension of eviction and foreclosure bans until September

    One point of contention is the status of the $2,000 stimulus checks. In the $900 billion package passed in December, checks of $600 were approved to go to those who are making $75,000 or less. Families who were eligible would get an additional $600 per dependent. In the highly continuous Georgia senate runoff race, then candidates John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock ran on approving $2,000 payments during their campaign.

    President-elect Biden also said that electing those two candidates would inhibit “$2,000 checks going out the door. “ Thus, many people were upset when they saw that there would be only an additional $1,400 joining the $600 from the previous package to equal $2,000 payments. In May, Vice President-Elect and then-Senator Kamala Harris together with Senators Bernie Sanders and Ed Markley introduced a bill to provide Americans with $2,000 payments monthly during the pandemic and three months after it.

    Therefore, the pillars of communication and messaging are going to be essential to the success of the Biden campaign. Many Americas were left in the dark for months after the CARES Act provisions expired, while Democrats tried to pass consecutive aid bills that met Republican opposition. With the newer stimulus package in December, it either came too late for some or states have still yet to receive guidance to implement these systems.

    Unemployment applications rose to more than a million last week and the virus is still out of control with a new variant becoming more dominant in the states. In an election where President-Elect Biden received over 81 million votes and record turnout gave his administration a slight majority in the Senate, people don’t want to feel like they’ve been used. This virus has ravaged the dreams, health, and the bank accounts of many - it’s time to provide hurting Americans as much as possible.

    It’s important to remember that this is a plan that can be amended as it moves up the chain in Congress. While this package is definitely going to meet opposition from Republicans who suddenly point to the deficit but didn’t during tax cuts time. With the Democrats having a very slim majority in the Senate, they could either get 10 Senate Republicans to join the package or choose to push it through with reconciliation. That has its own complications and will complicate things time-wise to get necessary aid to people. As we turn the page on a very turbulent time period in the American psyche, the importance of message cutting through a permanence of misinformation is going to be crucial.

    The Biden administration will have to work hard to get the word out about the great things in this recovery plan. But also ensure that the impoverished communities and younger people that came out for them in November are also a big part of the “Build Back Better” mantra. $2,000 may seem like a logistical error, and it may be, but things like that add up in minds and resentment kicks in. If you show that you fight for the best things in your electorate, they will continue to fight for you.