As Biden puts together his transition team, his West Wing apparatus, and his Cabinet nominees, his closest advisers have been gaming out the various scenarios for what Washington will look like after Jan. 20. And many of his supporters are clear-eyed about the scope of the task ahead.
“Biden’s transition team, as well as Biden himself, are going to have to be changing tires as the car is speeding down the highway, and changing four tires at the same time,” said Robert Reich, a former Labor secretary under President Bill Clinton. “It will be extraordinarily difficult. The challenge will be huge. And to make matters worse, the country is deeply divided.”
On other priorities, from education reform to national security to housing policy, Biden will have to spend the first several months of his presidency contending with two countervailing forces: the urgency of acting fast while he still has a honeymoon with the American people, and the reality of moving policy through the stubborn Washington bureaucracy. He’ll also have to maneuver around a wounded Republican Party that is aggressively plotting how to win back power in the next election.
Joe Biden’s health care agenda has a Goldilocks strategy: Trying to get it just right to pass Congress. But It doesn’t go far enough for progressives who want Medicare for All, while it goes way too far for Republicans, who still want to kill the bill. -Susannah Luthi
Immigration and the border wall
Immigration policy would be the most dramatic and immediate reversal of Trump policies when Biden takes office. Border wall construction would end virtually overnight in a Biden administration, and he’s pushing a comprehensive immigration overhaul with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. -Rebecca Rainey and Bryan Bender
Joe Biden has been quite consistent on his taxation agenda: Nobody who makes less than $400,000 a year would see a tax increase. But dig a little deeper, and the plans around capital games and state and local tax deductions get a lot more complicated in Congress. -Brian Faler
Energy and climate change
Rolling back Donald Trump’s oil industry-friendly regulations could take years for the incoming Biden administration, and the courts that hear challenges to these rollbacks have been stacked with conservatives. That means climate change activists could be seriously disappointed if they’re looking for quick victories in the new administration. -Anthony Adragna and Bryan Bender
Trade and manufacturing
President-elect Biden could roll back tariffs on day one if he wants to -- and many American industry leaders would love him to do just that. But Biden is more likely to take a more negotiated approach with China and other trading partners, meaning the free-wheeling global trade system won’t come roaring back quickly. -Gavin Bade and Eleanor Mueller
The legal protections that major technology platforms like Google, Twitter and Facebook have enjoyed for years will still be threatened under a Biden presidency, but Biden is more likely to work with Congress to rewrite the rules for social media liability protections. -Cristiano Lima
Democrats are dreaming big about free college and increasing spending on low-income schools, but getting a polarized Congress to go along with funding these priorities won’t be easy. The good news for Democrats is Biden can undo some of Donald Trump’s executive orders, including new protections for transgender students. -Michael Stratford
Everything from the nuclear arsenal to transgender protections for the military will be under review in the Biden administration, with promises to roll back several of Donald Trump’s policies. Biden also wants to negotiate a new version of the War Powers Act to rewrite the post-9/11 authorization for use of force in Afghanistan and Iraq. -Bryan Bender
Housing and redlining
Donald Trump rolled back protections against discrimination in housing, which was part of his efforts to win over white suburban voters. The Biden administration is almost certain to reverse Trump’s orders and push fair housing rules again. -Victoria Guida and Katy O’Donnell