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Make politics “boring” again: Joe Biden’s first 100 days

After four years of President Trump lobbing red meat to his base nearly every day, President Joe Biden's first 100 days in office have been refreshingly "boring." He's fired off zero early-morning Twitter rants and picked no fights with professional sport teams nor Mika Brzezinski. That's not to say, however, that he hasn't been busy. Since January 20th, Biden has issued more executive orders than any president since FDR, 40 of them by mid-April. His administration has already blown through their (admittedly low bar) goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days, topping 200 million. He's also gotten a record $1.9 trillion stimulus deal through Congress and announced a complete troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by 9/11/21. According to international relations expert and Atlantic contributor, Tom Nichols, that's exactly the kind of "boring" America needs right now. Especially at a time when the nation is going through what he calls a "narcissism pandemic." Nichols joins Ian Bremmer for a conversation on GZERO World.

Podcast: Tom Nichols on Biden’s “boring” presidency and a narcissistic nation

Listen: After four years of President Trump lobbing red meat to his base nearly every day, President Joe Biden's first 100 days in office have been refreshingly "boring." He's fired off zero early-morning Twitter rants and picked no fights with professional sport teams nor Mika Brzezinski. That's not to say, however, that he hasn't been busy. Since January 20th, Biden has issued more executive orders than any president since FDR, 40 of them by mid-April. His administration has already blown through their (admittedly low bar) goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days, topping 200 million. He's also gotten a record $1.9 trillion stimulus deal through Congress and announced a complete troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by 9/11/21. International relations expert and Atlantic contributor Tom Nichols tells Ian Bremmer that's exactly the kind of "boring" America needs right now, especially at a time when the nation is going through what he calls a "narcissism pandemic."

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“Politics ought to be boring”: Tom Nichols on Biden’s first 100 days

For international relations expert Tom Nichols, the best way to have a non-divisive US presidency is to elect a president who's "kind of boring." That's what Joe Biden has delivered so far, a stark contrast to the high drama of the previous administration, and deeply unsettling for the GOP. Ian Bremmer's interview with Nichols on the latest episode of GZERO World begins airing on US public television Friday, April 30. Check local listings.

Biden's big bet on Big Government

There are many differences between America's two main political parties, but the most fundamental is this: Democrats say government can and should act boldly to improve people's lives and strengthen the nation. Republicans insist that government itself poses the greatest threat to individual liberty and the nation's lasting competitive strength. The past 100 days make crystal-clear which side of that argument President Joe Biden lives on.

Ronald Reagan's presidency in the 1980s seemed to finally settle this question in favor of less government. Bill Clinton, the first post-Reagan Democrat in the White House, famously told Congress in 1996 that "the era of big government is over." A generation later, outside of his ambitious healthcare reform plan, fellow Democrat Barack Obama was notably cautious on this question.

But the pandemic has given Biden an opportunity to show government can go big. Historically big.

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George Floyd Police Reform Bill unlikely to pass Senate

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics:

With the conviction of Derek Chauvin, will there be a George Floyd Policing Reform Bill?

Unlikely right now. It's possible, but there's a big divide between Republicans and Democrats over the issue of eliminating qualified immunity. Democrats want to get rid of it. Republicans want to keep it in order to make sure that cops aren't exposed to too much liability while they're on the job. And to get anything done in the Senate, you need 60 votes, which would, of course, require 10 Republicans. So, conversations are likely to be ongoing, but this issue went nowhere during the Trump administration because both sides decided they wanted something, to make something political out of it, and I don't think that much is going to change now.

Why did President Biden flip-flop on the refugee cap?

President Biden promised during the campaign that he would lift President Trump's refugee cap from 15,000 to its old level of 65,000. But with a surging migrant crisis on the southern border, Biden decided this wasn't a priority and changed his mind a little bit on undoing the refugee cap. The administration announced this last Friday and there was a lot of pushback from migrant and refugee advocates against them for doing so. They later that evening flip-flopped again and said that sometime in May they were going to announce a new policy that would satisfy most of their allies on the left. But the issue of the border is still a big one for President Biden, one that's been dormant for quite some time. But with a surging number of children in particular rising on the southern border, it's not going to go away.

Will Washington, DC become the 51st state?

I'm standing here on a street corner in DC and I think the answer is probably also unlikely. And the reason is similar to the George Floyd Bill, that you cannot get 60 votes in the Senate to pass this. You'd have to eliminate the filibuster and even if you did that, it's unclear today if there are 50 Democrats in the Senate who would favor doing so. The House has now passed the bill multiple times to make DC a state, but the outlook in the Senate is just not that good. Stay tuned, because this is going to be a really important political issue throughout the year, especially as the Democrats look at the likelihood they might lose the House of Representatives next year.

Biden infrastructure plan would boost jobs; Georgia voter law tensions

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics:

What specifics do you expect to be in Biden's "build back better" infrastructure plan?

Well, this is really a two-part plan. The first part Biden's rolling out this week, and it's focused mainly on infrastructure. Bridges, roads, tunnels, transit, the whole infrastructure smorgasbord, including on broadband deployment, as well as investing in things like rural hospitals, schools and upgrading buildings to be more energy efficient. Biden's proposed between $2 and $2.5 trillion depending on how you do the math, paid for by tax increases primarily falling on the corporate sector that actually spread out over 15 years, as opposed to the bill's spending, which spreads out over 10. That means the bill will be mildly stimulative to the economy on top of creating potentially new jobs through the direct spending that's going to happen.

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Immigration reform so divisive that even Democrats can't agree

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics:

Is the surging immigration crisis the biggest challenge for the still new Biden administration?

I wouldn't say the immigration crisis is the biggest policy challenge, that's probably the coronavirus and getting the economy back on track and maybe a little bit of foreign policy, but it's certainly one of the biggest political challenges.

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Authoritarianism's appeal when democracy disappoints

What is so attractive about authoritarianism? Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum argues it has to do with a fundamental civic disillusionment. "The drive towards authoritarianism for the last 100 years resulted from people who feel some kind of disappointment with democracy." It can be a political disappointment or a personal one, Applebaum argues, that pushes people away from democratic institutions. And it's a trend that has only grown in recent years in some of the world's oldest and strongest democracies, including in the United States.

So how do governments make the case for democracy? That's the subject of Applebaum's interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, which began airing on US public television stations nationwide on Friday, March 5.

Watch the episode: Authoritarianism's Enduring Appeal: Anne Applebaum Discusses

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