OPINION: Biden tackles college-aged voters’ issues in productive first 100 days
President Joe Biden reached his first 100 days in office Thursday, meeting the milestone that is often used to gauge the current chief of state’s progress and effectiveness.
Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 view COVID-19 relief as the most important topic during Biden’s first few months in office, followed by the economy and racial issues, according to a 2021 poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.
College-aged voters’ concerns have been addressed throughout Biden’s short time as president, like temporarily freezing student loan payments, pausing student loan interest and distributing vaccines in a certain time frame, but racial issues have been pushed to the side, making his first 100 days just above average and leaving plenty of room for improvement.
Biden’s overall approval rating is at 52% by the American public, according to an April 25 poll by ABC News and The Washington Post. This is lower than the average approval rating of 66% of presidents in their first 100 days since Harry Truman. Although low, Biden’s rating is better than former President Donald Trump’s first 100 days rating, which was 42%, according to 2016 polls from ABC News and Gallup.
College-aged Americans appear more satisfied with Biden’s actions than the general public, however, with a 59% approval of the current president, according to the Harvard poll. This rating is well deserved considering Biden’s success in meeting most of the young voters’ expectations.
The Biden administration’s biggest achievement was fulfilling all of its COVID-19 goals for its first 100 days in office, like establishing a pandemic task force and releasing and distributing 200 million vaccines, satisfying college-aged voters’ main concern this year. Americans over the age of 18 have had access to the vaccine nationwide since April 19, providing college-aged citizens with access to vaccinations within his first 100 days.
The president also succeeded in his promise to pause federal student loan interest until Sept. 30 for those struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, alleviating a lot of stress for the 44.7 million Americans with student loan debt during a time of economic struggle, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve. This has saved Americans with student loan debt $4.8 million a month, according to a March estimate by the U.S. Department of Education.
Despite the positive impacts Biden has made on the lives of college-aged Americans these past 100 days, his administration has not fared well in racial equality, failing to fulfill its promise of expanding the Voting Rights Act, and his promise to double the Pell Grant.
During his campaign, Biden promised by April 29 that the federal government will oversee states’ voting tactics in hopes of eliminating racial discrimination at the polls. The revisions to the act would increase minorities’ access to voting services as well as extend the bill to cover discrimination against those with disabilities.
The National Police Oversight Commission (NPOC) has not been established either, nor will it ever be. Last year, Biden’s campaign promised to develop a federal commission that could help enact serious police reform during a time of intense racial discourse in America after the death of George Floyd last May.
“Looking ahead, in the first 100 days of my presidency, I have committed to creating a national police oversight commission,” Biden said during a speech in Pennsylvania on June 2.
The Biden administration announced April 11 it will no longer be pursuing this commission, effectively shutting down this endeavor. The commission will instead be replaced with the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would not dismantle nor recreate the current policing system, but instead ban law enforcement from using chokeholds and limit their immunity in court. This is only the bare minimum of reforms needed for police departments across the country.
“The bill bans federal use of chokeholds, ignoring the reality that police have killed Black people in this manner regardless of whether these bans are in place,” the Black Lives Matter movement said in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee in March.
Even though the Biden administration has not fulfilled its racial justice goals that was meant to be established before April 29, the promises it did fulfill were significant for college-aged voters’ economic and COVID-19 concerns.
Biden deserves his below-average rating by the American public compared to past presidents due to his neglect to create policies that will establish long-term change after the COVID-19 pandemic, like the freezing of student loans which lasts only until September and the pandemic task force.
College-aged voters, however, can rightfully appreciate the last 100 days in America as their two main concerns in the economy and the pandemic have been addressed thoroughly. Despite this, more goals should have been met within Biden’s first 100 days to address concerns about racial justice.
If Biden desires the further support from college students and young Americans, he should begin to focus more on attaining racial equity through the NPOC and an extension of the Voting Rights Act.
Due to his ability to fulfill most of his promises to young Americans, Biden’s first 100 days in office have been slightly above average in spite of him failing to create spaces within which racial progress could have been furthered.