Pierce Pioneer

Joe Biden Instills 12 New Executive Orders

Newly elected President Joe Biden signed a record amount of executive actions just within his first week of office. Twelve of which directly reversed former president Trump administration policies in a progressive push towards immigration, climate and COVID-19 relief initiatives. 

With over 30 executive actions in his first week of office, President Biden continues to separate himself from the previous administration. Here are all the reversed policies in week one:

Health

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden rejoined the World Health Organization after the previous administration cut all funding to the organization in May 2020. In this decision, the President appointed Dr. Anthony Fauci to represent the United States on WHO’s delegation committee. 

Former president Donald Trump rescinded from WHO last spring after claiming that the organization helped cover up the mishandling of COVID-19 by China. The Chinese government faced criticism throughout 2020 by not accurately reporting the full danger of COVID-19. After long negotiation, WHO sent a team to investigate the origins of the virus in late January of 2021, over a year after the first known case was detected in 2019.

Five days later, COVID-19 travel restrictions were reinstated for non-citizens travelling from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, most of Europe, and South Africa. The Biden administration pointed to new discoveries of a second strand of COVID-19 that was detected in England and South Africa. 

Immigration

Of President Biden’s 19 executive actions on day one of his presidency, three of those reversed previous immigration policies. The first was to halt the construction of Trump’s border wall that broke ground in 2017. Over 450 miles of border wall have been installed since 2017, where 47 miles of that were in previously non-existing locations. Biden’s executive order gave him the power to divert $10 billion dollars of allocated funds to other resources that haven’t been determined at this time. 

Additionally, President Biden reversed the controversial travel ban on Muslim majority countries. The travel ban faced several court obstructions until 2018 when the Supreme Court upheld the executive order on Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and restricted North Korea and Venezuela. President Trump defended his ban in regards to improving the vetting process of refugees and safety concerns for U.S. citizens.

In an effort to revise and evaluate the United State’s immigration, President Biden reversed the Trump administration’s expanded immigration enforcement. Trump’s reversed executive order prioritized the deportation of illegal aliens who have committed a crime and sanctuary cities that housed illegal immigrants. Cities who didn’t cooperate with federal law enforcement would be at risk of losing federal grants, but this policy has been deemed unconstitutional. 

Equity

LGBTQ rights were included in President Biden’s plethora of executive actions by reversing Trump’s ban of transgender individuals from serving in the military. This previously would not allow the military to turn away or discharge people for their gender identity. Trump pointed to financial costs and distractions to military operations in a tweet in 2017. 

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” Trump stated.

As a counter to the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project, former president Trump founded the 1776 Commission that was to promote “patriotic education.” The commission is composed of 18 members appointed by Trump in December of 2020. Present Biden rescinded this commission through executive order, claiming that the report attempts to “erase America’s history of racial injustice.” 

Environment

Included in his Jan. 20 executive actions, President Biden rejoined the Paris Climate accord after former president Trump left the agreement in 2017. Trump left after calling the agreement harmful to the U.S. economy and claimed it to be a flawed plan. The agreement attempts to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and binds over 190 countries into cutting their carbon emissions each year. 

Although, the agreement allows China to increase their carbon emissions until 2030, where they have then vowed to decrease emissions after reaching their energy peak. China produces the most amount of carbon emissions in the world at 10.43 gigatonnes which equals 29% of all emissions. The U.S. is second, behind China and makes up 14% percent of all world emissions. 

Furthermore, in an effort to continue his climate activism, President Biden stopped the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that connected oil reserves from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. This decision came at a cost as 1,000 jobs were immediately lost and an extra 10,000 employees won’t be hired after the pipeline contract was canceled. The Biden administration has made it a priority to step away from oil usage and expand the country’s reliance on clean energy.

Census

In President Biden’s early actions to address U.S. immigration, he revoked the previous administration’s action to not count illegal immigrants in the 2020 Census. In his executive order, Biden addressed the 14th Amendment and its call to count whole numbers of persons in each state. The Census is the deciding tactic for assigning each state’s amount of electoral votes that deviate the 435 members in the house based on each state’s count. 

Economy

On the campaign trail, Biden presented his plan on raising the federal minimum wage to $15 and took the first steps to achieving this through an executive order. In his action Biden provided federal employees with emergency paid leave, and restored collective bargaining rights and protections. This would give federal employees more mandatory work compensation that was rescinded by the previous administration.

Since this executive order, Biden continues to advocate for a federal minimum wage of $15, but the policy was not included in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed by the house of representatives. The Biden administration’s hope for an increase for low wage earners would have to come from a separate congressional bill. 

Regulation

With an increase in regulations on the agenda for the new administration, President Biden aimed to change how the White House reviews regulations. These changes attempt to emphasize the benefits of regulation and turn away review of weighing the cost of regulation. This executive action paves the way for an increase in federal regulations as the Biden administration continues to go around Congress in their first week in office.

Reflecting on the historic 2020 election

How Pierce College Sees Our Presidential Candidates

Pierce College students and professors weigh in on the many ups and downs of this year’s presidential debates

From shouting interruptions and a lost message in the first Presidential debate to snarls and civilized conversations in the Vice Presidential debate, the American people were reminded of the divisiveness that continues to polarize the nation. 

In the first debate, we saw moderator Chris Wallace struggle to maintain order between the two candidates as President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden clashed in the first presidential debate on Sep. 29. The following Vice Presidential debate featured Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, who provided more policy substance in a calm and civilized manner.

Yet the vastly different debates did not change the opinions of these Pierce College students and faculty, as America gets closer to what Donald Trump and Barack Obama deem the most important election in our lifetime.

In the first Presidential debate, Trump tallied a total of 145 interruptions while Biden totaled 67 interruptions according to a Fox News analysis. Political Science professor Chris Roberts, a current council member for the City of Shoreline, was surprised by how the president conducted himself. “The fact that he was interrupting, it didn’t resemble traditional debates in that sense,” he said. 

Moreover, the constant interruptions from both candidates disallowed the American people to hear the candidates stances going into this election. Running start student Courtney Oller believed that the two candidates acted childish by talking over each other. “The President is supposed to set an example for the country,” she said. “I’m not saying it’s just that one debate that made up my mind, but I don’t feel like either of them were showing an actual maturity to be the President for the country.” 

Likewise, Eli Haugen, who plans to work in administry and is a first time voter, compared the debate to his life at home. “I felt like that was the glimpse of my childhood,” he said. “That was like my mom trying to separate me and my siblings from arguing. After a little while, I didn’t really feel like the debate was going in a good direction and it felt very out of control fast.”

Throughout the unconventional debate, each candidate had their strong moments with Trump pressuring his stance on packing the supreme court, while Biden countered with Trump’s COVID-19 response. Professor Roberts touched on Trump’s ability to stay on message and fluster his opponents. “He really stays consistent in terms of what he always comes back to his talking points,” he said. “He always comes back to his core messages and he really doesn’t let anything distract him from that.”

For Biden’s strength during the debate, Roberts pointed to his ability to stay composed. “I think the Vice President did fairly well at presenting what he wanted to present,” he said. “Sort of a calm stable feature if he was going to become president. I think that people comparing the two really got a sense of the difference in personality between the two candidates.” 

Besides character differences between the two candidates, each has different ways of handling the economy. On one hand, Joe Biden plans to raise taxes and has thought about another economic shutdown if scientists advise him to; while on the other hand, Donald Trump plans to keep his tax cuts and keep the economy open.

Running Start student Michael Seebold, looked into both candidates’ plans for the economy and doesn’t believe in Biden’s economic policy to shut down. “I don’t agree with that, I don’t want the economy to shut down. I like what Trump is doing with the economy, like getting the manufacturing jobs and making the U.S. population dependent upon itself so we’re not outsourcing everything, and not relying on other countries for goods.”

With the policies and personalities of both candidates considered, Haugen and Seebold believed that there was no clear winner for the Presidential debate. Meanwhile Oller, who was also torn between both candidates, said that Biden won the first presidential debate due to his policies. “I kind of put it into sections for what they’re talking about,” Oller said. “For the first section definitely Biden, but I think Trump did have him in the next one. But overall, in the entire debate, I do think Biden had more respect; more overall better opinions.”

Moving forward a week later, the Vice Presidential debate served a more calm and organized structure which differed from the Presidential debate. The debate also carried a viral sensation with a fly landing on Mike Pence’s head, giving everyone watching something to unite with. 

According to Roberts, the Vice Presidential debate carried less stakes in the November election. He believed each candidate had a different purpose they were aiming for during the debate. “I think Senator Harris had the job of introducing herself to the nation; and I think that Vice President Pence had more of a goal of working to articulate and defend the President’s record.”

Oller, who believed that Kamala won the debate, noticed a difference in character between the two debates. “Even just sitting in the living room, you can feel the different attitude,” she said. “The way Kamala Harris would talk about something then Mike Pence would talk about something; even though he kept interrupting her, they were very much more mature than the president.”

Furthermore, Harris’ performance reminded Oller of a potentially bright future under her administration. “Kamala Harris has a lot of good ideas,” Oller said. “Honestly, as a woman myself, seeing another woman talk about all of these great expectations has really influenced me. That is what we need to see from a Vice President.”

Seebold believed that Mike Pence won the Vice Presidential debate, believing Pence put the American people first and focused on independent freedoms, while Kamala Harris planned to shut down the economy. “Kamala Harris was saying all of these restrictions that she is going to place because of Covid,” Seebold said. “I don’t have a problem with wearing a mask, it’s fine, it’s constricting my breathing; but actually quarantining and shutting down the economy, having to stay at home even though you don’t have it, I don’t agree with it.”

Going into this 2020 election, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and others have deemed this election the most important in our lifetime. This year’s election is projected to curtail the highest voter turnout in a century with over 80 million ballots already casted. Young voters are expected to sway the 2020 election by shattering their previous turnout records.

Yet, Roberts argues that this election is not the most important in our history and points to the potential political realignment in 2020. “I believe that we are at the tail end of the Reagan political era,” he said. “This election is going to really determine if we are resetting a new political cycle or if the 2016 election was the beginning of the new political cycle. I think that’s why the importance in the stakes of this election seems to be higher than most previous elections.”

According to Haugen, this election will change our country’s direction and history. “There is so much that hangs on this election,” he said. “I think that there’s a lot more that’s going on behind the scenes than what some people know. Depending on the results of this election, things that are going on behind the scenes are going to come to light whether that be even more conspiracy theories or fraud voting or whatever. I think that this election is going to change the course of our American history.”

‘Trump’s Wall’ Still Up in the Air

Budgetary concerns arise for the funding of ‘the Wall’

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The renewed United States-Mexico border is still in its planning process, and its construction has yet to begin. One of the major concerns is how much the Wall will cost, and where and who the money will come from.

President Trump originally estimated it would cost $10 billion, but now, according to Reuters.com, the Border Wall is estimated to cost $21.6 billion. This estimate from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stems from the costs of acquiring privately owned land, specifically sections in Texas.

John Pennington, one of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) members for Pierce College, believes the budget may very on the way the cost is spread out. “There is a very structured process for federal funding in the United States,” Pennington said, “And it is critical for readers to remember that proposed budgets from the Executive Branch are just that: proposed.”

One possibility for funds was to adjust and institute new tariffs in the National American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These tariffs would be targeted toward Mexican exports. On February 14th, in a Toronto Conference on the future of North American trade, Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said, "Nothing in the new NAFTA should be a step backward. We will definitely not include any type of trade management measures, like quotas, or open the Pandora's box of tariffs.”

Trump has made little mention of his intentions for NAFTA in regards to the Wall, and pulling from any of the U.S.’s DHS funds have not been directly address at the time.

Pennington said the cost may pull from other departments that relate to such environmental and territorial matters. The DHS houses many “legacy agencies,” including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), whose budget the DHS would pull from. “DHS is the overarching budget,” Pennington clarifies, “And sub-agencies fit within that overarching budget.”

The Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) is the primary funding source, and has been funded consistently for several years, even through the financial crisis that began in 2007.

Pennington believes that chances are slim for the Wall’s construction effecting the funding and budgets for Washington, and any other States’ FEMA and DHS. “FEMA and its state, tribal and local partners have fought to maintain the funding,” Pennington said, “I do not see that changing in the next several years under this or any Administration.”

Construction on the Wall does not have a clear date, nor is the source of funding for it clear. It is safe to say that branches of Emergency Management and Homeland Securities will remain largely unaffected by the implementation of the 2000 mile Wall.

Resist Hate.

One voice, turning into millions participate in march.

Resist+Hate.

On Jan. 21, 2017, an estimated 2.6 million people marched, some in outrage, some in protest. Some marched to express what they saw as an unfair result to the presidential election. Others joined out of concern for how Donald Trump’s policies were going to affect women’s rights, immigration, and Muslim communities.

In the days that followed, Trump picked his advisers and began to lay out policies that came from his campaign promises. People began to see a growing animosity towards certain groups. The Muslim ban and emphasis on illegal immigration only seemed to add fuel to the hostility.

Here on campus, students have expressed uncertainty and fear. Ishmael Rodriguez, a student pursuing general studies, echoed their concerns. “What I see, I don’t agree with the policies. They create distrust and fear. I can see where their fear about being deported is coming from; I’m Puerto Rican and share the same fear.”

When looking at the news feed on any social media outlets, it doesn’t take long to see the growing divide among people. Accusations on Facebook display a definite polarization. If someone voted for Trump, then automatically that person is labeled racist and supports bigotry. On the other hand, in sharing news reports one can be accused of promoting “alternative facts.”

Dennis Escobar, a student pursuing an AA/DTA, sees mainstream media as a contributing factor towards the antagonistic attitudes. “Media seems to be focusing on what’s wrong, what’s dividing us. I see them manipulating the truth to serve their own interests,” he said.

In his opinion, self-interest groups can also add to the division. By focusing only on their agenda they limit the conversation that could be had to find common ground for a solution. “I see a lot of hate and it is not just one way, but they tend to reciprocate,” Escobar said. “A simple conversation won’t be possible until their leaders stop focusing on themselves and start focusing also on others. People need be willing to sit at the table to ask, “Are you okay? What can I do to help?”

Getting involved in the community is a great way to combat the sense of helplessness many feel. Still, it can be difficult to know how to take a stand and resist hate.

One of the newest members to the college, Oneida Blagg, has some ideas to consider. She is the Executive Officer of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Basically what she does is bridge the resources between students and their achievement goals.

She had this advice: “Being informed and being respectful of opposing points of view are the best things. College is learning about academic ideas and how to present them civilly. Talking about controversial things is important. Do you want a good idea to be rejected because of how it was delivered? Talking in angry tones can prevent a conversation towards a solution. Learn how to respond rather than react.”

The global march in January grew from a statement one person made on Facebook, “I think we should march.” News reports and pictures show what could happen if one became thousands, then millions. What can one person do? Apparently quite a lot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Analysis of Trump’s controversial executive orders

One week into presidency, Trump signs four executive orders

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With only one week in office, President Donald J. Trump has officially signed four executive orders and eight presidential memorandas, nearly tripling Obama’s number.

During this week, Trump has given the greenlight to constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline, issued a plan for the wall to be built, plan to “roll back” Obamacare, and pressure “sanctuary cities” to turn over immigrants.

Educators are already noting their disdain of his hasty decisions. “It’s very hypocritical of Republicans. They were constantly bashing Obama for breaching ‘legislative power’ and calling him a fascist. Meanwhile Trump is tripling that and they’re saying nothing,” said professor Kristin Brunnemer.

Presidents in the past have wanted to make a solid mark in their term, that could account for why Trump is issuing so many acts in the first couple of weeks. “Executive orders are only a part of the president’s power. With Obama, he had only two years to establish his plans in an eight year term. They want to put their stamp on the presidency and they only have so much time,” said professor Julie Werbel.

These orders smelled of opportunism for many of Obama’s opponents. Within Obama’s presidential term, many republican congress constituents were itching to repeal Obamacare. “The republicans have been waiting to work in their own interest. There was a wait, now there is an opportunity,” said professor John Simpson.

Trump’s republican allies are keeping mum about these new policies. “I don’t think traditional republicans are for Trump, but they are alright with his decisions and do not need to voice their own opinions. Many of them are more aligned with Pence than with trump,” said Brunnemer.

Considering his unorthodox plans for both the environment and social infrastructure, his plans are alarming. During last year’s friction between no-DAPL protestors and law enforcement, Obama ordered for DAPL plans to cease. Americans were certain that the ordeal was over.

That’s why when Trump decided to refute Obama’s decision, people were outraged. “Rushing the pipeline and quieting the EPA with the gag order is very problematic. Very ‘Putin-esque’ in my opinion,” said Brunnemer. “There is a speed to his decisions to hide conflicts of interest.”

““The president can have conflicts of interest economically, if he gets the approval of congress. Congress is republican, he could very well ask their approval, so why doesn’t he? Maybe because he does not want to answer questions and would have to reveal his business ties,” said Werbel.

By conflicts of interest, she means Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, AKA former Exxon CEO. “It is important for him to maintain his business relations,” said professor Werbel. “Our government has a commitment to the fossil industry, even when alternative energies create more, if not as many jobs.”

These orders are only a slice of what he promised to his voters, however, some voters are starting to regret the repeal for Obamacare. “Trump gave the IRS permission to penalize people who do not get health insurance,” said Werbel.

“Obamacare requires young and healthy people to purchase insurance, it creates a risk pool. There are two methods in developing a healthcare plan. Either a private option, in which everyone is required to purchase from private insurance, for-profit companies, or Medicare for everyone, in which taxpayers pay into it, which is something Obama could not politically do. When President Trump did this, he in effect created Obamacare de facto,” said Werbel.

Sanctuary cities in states such as California, Connecticut, New Mexico, and many more are at risk to Trump’s executive power. Earlier last week, Trump threatened to pull federal money if sanctuary cities continue to cooperate with immigrants. This, along with the restriction of transportation for Muslims deems to be tyrannical.

“It is illegal to punish sanctuary states. He can exert pressure on states if legislation has failure to comply, but he cannot punish California,” said Werbel. “We have turned a blind eye on immigration because the people coming up here are providing an economic safety valve. The poorest and the most desperate come here and they usually send money back home.”

As of the 24th of January, America has been downgraded to a “flawed democracy.” This is not a result of the election, but rather a culmination of market crashes, police brutalities, and overall negligence and irresponsibility.

Trump has repeatedly said that he supports torture, or ‘water-boarding.’ “It is illegal under United States law to reinstate torture, or even under international. He would have to change the law to justify that. If he asks people in the CIA and or in the military to do this stuff, he is asking them to commit war crimes,” said Werbel.

On Jan. 27, Trump issued a ban on visas coming from Islamic countries. This action received immediate retaliation for its Islam-o-phobic attitude towards refugees and raised questionable doubt for the future. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates refused to sign off on this executive order and was subsequently fired on Jan. 30.

Obama takes aim at the future of America and Republicans.

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President Obama gave his final, of seven, State of The Union address on Tuesday. The overall theme was hope and optimism for the future while calling out the Republicans on several key issues.

   In the background was Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Paul Ryan. On many occasions you could see Biden applauding the topics that Obama was speaking on, but in stark contrast Ryan kept a stern face, rarely acknowledging the speech. As the cameras panned out to the audience, it was clear to see it was mainly the Democrats that were clapping and cheering while the Republicans just sat there. The only time it seemed the President got a standing ovation from everyone was when he talked about how great our military is.

   One of the main points Obama made was about the price of college for Americans. “And we have to make college affordable for every American.” said Obama in his speech. “Because no hardworking student should be stuck in the red. We’ve already reduced student loan payments to ten percent of a borrower’s income. Now, we’ve actually got to cut the cost of college. Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and I’m going to keep fighting to get that started this year.”

   This was brought up last year and seemed to have fallen to the wayside. Some states, like Oregon, has already voted to make community college free for their citizens.

   Obama talked about workers who lose their job should have a way to learn a new trade so they can be hired again. “ …we shouldn’t just make sure he can get unemployment insurance; we should make sure that program encourages him to retrain for a business that’s ready to hire him,” said Obama. “If that new job doesn’t pay as much, there should be a system of wage insurance in place so that he can still pay his bills.”

   This could help out students who are going to college for retraining from L&I (Labor and Industries) due to an injury sustained on their job. In the brief overview of the wage insurance, there was no talk of where the source of money would come from.

   Obama went on to talk about clean energy and how helping those around the world move away from ‘dirty’ energy. “Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future — especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels,” said Obama “That’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”

   In the midst of all the talk about the future Obama managed to find a sentence here and there to attack the Republicans.

   “I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air,” said Obama “Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin.”

   Though he did not mention Donald Trump directly, or any other Republican presidential hopefuls, he did bash them.

   “That’s why we need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness,” said Obama directly aiming at Trump. “It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.”

   The Republicans responded to the State of The Union with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Haley was elected as the first female and minority governor of South Carolina.

   In her speech she focused on how Obama was full of talk and less about action. She goes on to talk about the way the economy is failing, but the Republicans are also to blame.

   “We need to be honest with each other, and with ourselves: while Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today, they do not bear it alone. There is more than enough blame to go around,” said Haley in her speech. “We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership. We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken.”

   “And then we need to fix it.”

   Haley went on to talk about the terrorist attack that killed 9 people at a church in Charleston, S.C.

   She made an emphasis to point out that they held vigils instead of looting and rioting, which to some could be a slap in the face to those who were protesting in Ferguson and Baltimore.

   Haley went on to talk about taking down the Confederate flag.

   “We removed a symbol that was being used to divide us, and we found a strength that united us against a domestic terrorist and the hate that filled him,” said Haley.

   And then she pounced on Trump.

   “Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference,” said Haley. “That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.”

   Though there was talk about the parties coming together and making improvements to the nation, there was still a clear divide between ideologies on how America should be ran.

   One main elephant in the room during the State of The Union was not mentioned. Ten US sailors are being held by the Iranian government, who have since been released as of 5:03 a.m. 1/13/16. Many Republicans lashed out at Obama for not mentioning it in the speech, like Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz.

   Paul, who was not at the speech, released a 5 minute video. Paul stated that the next president will have to rebuild the military, repeal medical insurance, and balance the budget.

   The State of the Union has proven, though we have moved forward as a nation, the government is clearly divided. Neither side seems to be budging.

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