In first days, Biden flashes action as deep problems loom

WASHINGTON (AP) — Inside the White House, President Joe Biden led a successful start of his presidency by making his first days as Chief Executive Officer a straightforward presentation of action to overcome the historic problems he heritaged.

Yet there are signs everywhere beyond the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that crises are as intense and unbeatable as ever.

The coronavirus pandemic, the economic teeters and Legislative Republicans have pointed to all of Biden's proposals.

Biden aims to launch his first 100 days of symbolism and action to convince a divided, tired audience he is helping.

He understands however that there are limitations on what a president can do on his own but he calls the Congress to behave and he is candid with Americans that have dark days ahead.

"The situation is not changing.

It's getting deeper," Biden said Friday about the pandemic effect.

"Much of America hurts.

The virus is on the rise.

Families are starving.

People are in danger of being expelled again.

Employment losses accumulate. Job losses mount.

We must act." We must act.

"This is the bottom line: We're in a national emergency.

We must behave like we are in a national emergency," he said.

The first moments of Biden as president were intended to steady American democracy itself.

Just before midnight on Wednesday, he made an oath to a Capitol that already bore wounds because of the rebellion that took place two weeks ago and was intended to halt Biden's rise to power.

Violence underlined the precarious essence of the peaceful transition of power and contributed to Donald Trump's landmark second trial.

Biden defied demands to shift the opening to a better indoor area.

He intended to maintain the usual opening traps as a warning that normality could be accomplished even though there were signs that conditions were far from normal: a military presence that looked like a war zone, visitors at dais with masks, a national mall packed with 200,000 American flags for the Americans who were ordered to stay away due to the pandemic.

Biden talked clearly and explicitly about the confluence of problems facing the country.

More than 410,000 Americans have died in a pandemic, millions have gone out of jobs and social justice is only feeling after a summer.

"You can hear this sigh of relief that Trump has gone, but because of the cascading crises, we've had no time to sigh relief," said Eddie Glaude, Director of the African American Studies Department at Princeton University.

"We don't want to say that Biden's election settles everything.

The size of the problems is massive, and we have to answer this question on a scale."

The changes in the White House were rapid.

After Trump resigned, his final workers cleared and started to be profoundly washed.

The White House has been the scene of several COVID-19 outbreaks and plastic shields were put on desks as the physical representation of a new response to the epidemic, and several new employees were asked to operate from the house.

Fresh photographs were hung on the walls of the west wing and the Oval Office was soon overhauled.

The Andrew Jackson and the Coke diet lever of the desk went away; in the pictures there came Robert Kennedy and Cesar Chavez.

But the President himself was the most significant sign, the clearest separation from the previous administration.

Biden was sporting a mask as he sat at the Resolute desk to sign his first series of executive orders on Wednesday.

Trump had avoided wearing one and only rarely converted mask wear into a politically divided topic

For the next 100 days, Biden encouraged all Americans to wear the mask and to model his platform in the same manner, one of several ways in his initial days he sought to shift the mood of the presidency.

Regular news updates resumed, without the allegation of "false news" that characterized only occasional trump-era briefings.

For hundreds of White House employees, Biden had a simulated swearing-in saying that he must handle each other with dignity or dismiss, a drastic shift from the contentious, competition focused Trump West Wing.

Calls were made without drama to the representatives of Canada and Mexico.

Biden's executive decisions over the week were a combination of tangible and symbolic actions that undermined the core of the legacy of Trump.

Biden avoided constructing a boundary wall, joined the World Health Organisation and the Paris Climate Agreement and promoted the means of vaccine development.

However, the strength of the executive orders fades compared to the COVID-19 relief package of 1,9 billion dollars which he demanded from the Congress.

Biden did not hesitate to order Senate Chief Prime Minister Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. to drive it by methods which only require Democratic support.

But the President, who had remained in the Senate for decades, hoped to urge Republicans to support this measure.

"Executive action makes sense at the outset, you can get things moving and move quickly without waiting for Congress," said Robert Gibbs, President Barack Obama's former press secretary.

"But it will take a bit.

Just as it was for us in 2009, there's no improvement overnight."

"All he has inherited will probably be worse before we see improvement," Gibbs said.

"One thing you learn on 20 January is that you own it all of a sudden."

At the end of the week, only two Cabinet nominees were approved to the annoyance of the White House.

But Biden's aides were hopeful that the Senate will confirm more before the Friday night's announcement, that Trump's trial would not resume until the week of Feb. 8.

The trial stands with the Biden team as an unwanted diversion.

Although Trump will shade the white house, Biden helpers have found that now that his Twitter account is gone, the former president pays significantly less interest.

They expressed faith that the Senate could balance the litigation process by confirming both Cabinet and considering the COVID-19 relief bill.

Biden has made it known that leading the country through the pandemic is his key mission, and some Republicans think that Trump's implosion might open the door to a relief deal across the alley.

"There's a very narrow permit structure for Congressional Republicans who want to move beyond the Trump Age and build their own political identity," said Kevin Madden, a Republican consultant who was a top advisor to the 2012 Presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.

Romney's a senator in Utah now.

"There's an old saying: 'Make the most important thing,' and the White house of Biden knows this's the most important thing," Madden said.

"In the next 100 days, if you can strengthen the pandemic response, so you can move on to other goals, you have the resources for political struggles.

Yet they must get it right."

Follow Twitter Lemire at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire

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