Twelve questions for Joe Biden

Mr. President, Dear Joe,

The challenges of our country are way beyond anything we have seen before. I am interested to know how you intend to tackle the issues that are vital to our future. No, “our best days are not ahead” for the next four years of your Presidency. Don’t take electors for ignorant as Trump did. The next four years will be challenging; an economy in the worst recession since 1929 will continue to divide the country. It is time, to tell the truth. More than anything else, we need you to be honest with us and recognize that you were part of the mistakes and successes of the Obama Administration.

Source: Congressional Budget Office, Statista, also used by Forbes

1. You were Vice President when the highest surge of US public debt occurred ($ 7.5 trillion). Between the recession, the coronavirus, and the mismanagement of public finance by Donald Trump, the country has exhausted its ability to leverage itself and its companies. The budget deficit this year will be four times that of last year. How will you deleverage the US? I presume you intend to spend quite a lot of money: how do you measure the impact on the debt?

Source: PGPF

2. The defense budget has reached unsustainable levels. When asked about the defense budget you said: “We have to move away from investments in legacy systems that won’t be relevant for tomorrow’s wars and we have to rethink the contributions we and our allies make to our collective security. And we have to invest in our other elements of national power”. The US outnumbers the largest other countries’ defense budget by a factor of 10. The colossal amount of money allocated to the defense industry needs wars to justify itself. Will you have the wisdom and the courage to initiate a disarmament conference? Will you stop the run for more weapons around the world? Will you be the Peace President and end support to wars as President Obama did?

Source: New York Magazine

3. Healthcare is a crucial part of the inequality that plagues the US population. As Vice President, you were part of the capitulation in front of the health insurance lobbies. You said you would add a “public program that all Americans could choose, that medical insurance can be made universally accessible without scrapping the nation’s current model of delivering healthcare”. Will you reduce patients’ dependency on employment in order to acquire healthcare? The coronavirus has shown how poorly equipped our health care and hospital system is: will you take a federal initiative to establish minimum standards nationwide? Why do we all have to spend more when the healthcare infrastructure fails on us? Will you provide a public sector health insurance initiative?

Source: PGPF

4. Corporate tax contributes a small part (7% in 2019) to the US budget, compared to individual taxes. Through loopholes, subsidies, and exemptions given of the past decades, the American people legitimately feel that they are the most important contributors to the US budget. Will you spearhead a campaign (domestically and internationally) to ensure that corporates and the wealthy contribute their fair share to the budget? Will you eliminate subsidies for large companies that do not need it? Will you make taxation more equitable?

In 2018, thirty-six years after Congress approved the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), Illinois became the 37th state to ratify it. (Photo: Barbara Freeman/Getty Images) Source: Common Dreams

5. Equal pay for equal work. It is common sense. It is also overdue. Let’s close the gap and let’s do it now, you tweeted. The US constitution does not provide equal treatment and salaries between men and women, perpetuating the subordination of women. The Supreme Court has long interpreted the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to also prohibit sex discrimination in many cases. Unfortunately, we cannot rely on the Supreme Court any longer after Trump was able to select a judge with a flawed ethical compass. Will you push the constitutional Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Senate, even if the Democrats do not have the majority, through intense lobbying that will assure its approval?

Source: FiveThirtyEight

6. The US immigration policy is discriminatory. The process splits families, as ICE’s methods have been unbearable. What progress do you intend to make to provide a path to nationality for families who have been living, studying, paying taxes, and working in the United States for ten years and over? Will you propose a law that will make it impossible to replicate that cruel and unequal treatment and replace ICE with a non-military immigration institution?

Source: image by The Guardian

7. The rule of law has been seriously threatened by broad Presidential powers that corrupt the integrity of the Department of Justice and the judiciary. The US has more people jailed, mostly non-Caucasian, than any other country. The Department of Justice is trying to turn the United States into a presidential dictatorship. This is a constitutional and legal question: are you prepared to propose reforms to more formally bind the Presidential powers to the rule of law?

Different sources depicting a similar message.

8. Climate change reforms have been one of the Obama Administration successes: Trump has weakened if not dismantled those efforts. The disaster is still happening here at home. The current state of the Environment Protection Agency exposes a broad problem when the agency is headed by a climate skeptic. Will you rebuild the domestic and multilateral institutions that work to defend the human survival on planet Earth in a meaningful way? Will you restore its place to scientific evidence?

Source: Statista

9. You are a man of values and respect for diversity. Hate and race crimes have been increasing over the past few years, sometimes induced by implicit and explicit support to white supremacists by the White House. Even the police have committed those crimes, without being punished in commensuration to their actions. The recent George Floyd cruel assassination is just one of many examples. Can you include the voice of black communities in your efforts to build a better society? Are you willing to increase the punishment of federal hate crimes? Will you build an equitable platform for all races?

Source: Statista

10. The number of gun violence victims has exploded in the United States and particularly in schools, killing children and teachers. The country is plagued by White Supremacist militias armed with series of combative weapons. Are you willing to prohibit war weapons such as the AK-47, and force the owners to deposit their arms with the Army? Will you restrict police forces to non-military gears?

Source: Brookings Institute

11. Filibustering has been a cause of blockage of the US Senate for decades. These procedures are putting the appointment of judges and/or impeachment proceedings quasi entirely in the hands of the Senate majority. Should the Democrats gain control of the Senate, would you be willing to put the elimination of the filibuster system to a vote in the Senate and replace it with checks and balances? Will you promote cooperation between the House and the Senate?

Source: CNN

12. Multilateral agreements and institutions have been renegaded by the Trump administration for ideological reasons, and often against US interests. He blocked the World Trade Organization, pulled out of the Paris Environmental Agreement, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty — to name a few. Will you take action to rejoin the multilateral agreements and find a way to ensure that the United States will rebuild multilateral relationships? What will you do to ensure that those Treaties cannot be negated by the President in the stroke of a pen, while they have been approved by Congress? How will you restore US diplomacy?

This might not be a pretty picture. It is, however, realistic and we need you to tell the truth.

Why would anyone want to inherit this legacy? In all likelihood, it will be yours. Don’t waste your time attacking Trump. Yes, we need leadership, as you often say. But you never defined your leadership. Should we as voters guess it? We need more than that, and, so far, you won by default. I would like to vote for you in November with a more courageous picture of the transformation you will operate to get the United States back to the values of its Founding Fathers.

CEO at Galileo Global Advisors and Adjunct professor Columbia Law School.