Will the presidency of Joe Biden be good for West Virginia?
That, it seems to me, ought to be the bottom-line question in these parts. From the response nationally to Biden’s first address to the U.S. Congress last Wednesday evening, I would say a shift in attitude from suspicion to at least mild positive interest is on the horizon.
West Virginia’s two senators, Joe Manchin (D) and Shelley Moore Capito (R), were among only 200 or so people invited to sit, with plenty of social distancing, in the U.S. House of Representatives for the 70- minute speech.
House and Senate leaders from both parties were on hand, but the majority of senators and representatives had to watch the rollout of the Biden agenda on television due to COVID-19 precautions. And everyone in attendance was masked, except for Biden himself while he was speaking.
Mountain State families as well as individuals and our state’s small businesses and governmental units — counties and cities — have already benefitted from the relief bill Biden proposed. Paula and I received both the initial relief checks of $600 each and the subsequent federal payments of $1,400 for a total of $4,000 for our household.
Some of our relief money went into savings accounts, but another portion has already been spent. I expect that’s the same for a lot of folks. And whatever you spent has helped relaunch economies, either locally or for online purchases, nationally.
Biden’s highest marks in national polls come for his rollout of vaccines to combat the spread of the coronavirus that has ravaged our nation and indeed virtually the entire world. He had promised 100 million injections in his first 100 days. Shot records for the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in that timeframe showed last week that 220 million doses went into American arms.
Talk about “under-promise and over-deliver,” the mantra of successful sales campaigns.
The RealClearPolitics average of national polls late last week put Biden’s favorabilities at 72% for his rollout of the vaccines and 53% for his performance overall. Gov. Jim Justice has been 100% on board with Biden’s vaccine push, and indeed roughly 45% of our state’s adult population has now been fully vaccinated.
Long known as a moderate in Democratic Party policies, Biden articulated proposals for days ahead that clearly tip toward the liberal side on issues such as gun safety reform, police training and tactics reform and the hope for comprehensive immigration reform. In his speech he especially underscored his aim of securing citizenship for the “Dreamers,” children brought to the U.S. by illegal immigrant parents.
Such children, many now in their 30s and 40s, speak English with natural American accents and in dress and manner seem just like the rest of us. In short, America has long been their home. Many have never even been back to their countries of origin.
Notably absent from the Biden address was any mention of expanding abortion rights, such as by repealing the Hyde Amendment which, for 44 years, has blocked the use of federal funds to offset the costs of an abortion. Many voters opposed Biden in the 2020 election primarily on that issue, which remains a heated and divisive point in U.S. politics. Republicans largely champion the pro-life side. Democrats largely stand behind the right to abortion in all 50 states guaranteed by the 1973 Supreme Court decision known as Roe vs. Wade.