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Breaking down the agenda for Biden's first 100 days

Yahoo Finance's Rick Newman joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss what Biden's first 100 days might look like as he signs executive orders to boost COVID-19 aid and federal benefits.

Video Transcript


ADAM SHAPIRO: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. We have a new president, a new administration, and an old Rick Newman to help us figure out the biggest moves in the first two days of Joe Biden's presidency. Rick.

RICK NEWMAN: Hey, Adam. I think the biggest thing Biden has done so far is a national COVID strategy. You know, public health experts and business leaders and economists, from the day we began to understand the magnitude of the pandemic back in February and March, they were saying this is exactly what we need to do. We need to have the federal government in charge of providing PPE and testing and making sure there's enough funding and enough people. And now we have a vaccine, and Biden is saying we're going to do all those things, and we're going to have a federal vaccination effort.

There are going to be these federal vaccination centers. There are going to be mobile vans going to rural areas. So this is finally a muscular federal effort to get this crisis under control, instead of just telling states and cities, it's all on you.

So this is a big deal. You know, some of these executive orders-- and I think he has signed almost 30 EOs in just two and a half days. Some of them are symbolic, and they're not going to change a lot, but I think there have been-- seven or eight or nine or 10 have been just related to COVID, and I think those are going to make a big difference.

SEANA SMITH: Rick, I'm curious, since you brought it up. The number of executive orders that President Biden has signed within his first couple of days, how does that compare to past presidents? Because it seems like he's getting quite a lot done in just a couple of days since he assumed office.

RICK NEWMAN: It does. And I haven't run the numbers on this. There is this impression that executive orders are kind of a new thing, but they're really not at all. President Obama used executive orders a lot, especially during the last six years of his presidency when Republicans were able to block his legislation in Congress. So he used EOs.

And of course, we know President Trump used executive orders a lot for a couple of reasons. Number one, he just didn't have the patience for legislation in a lot of cases, and there were other things, the Muslim ban, for example. He wasn't going to get legislation, and courts did overturn a lot of those Trump executive orders.

I don't know if this is a record for a president coming in, but clearly, the thing that's different with Joe Biden is we have, you know, a public health emergency, and we have an economic downturn at the same time. So he is saying it's urgent we get moving on all this stuff. Of course he's also saying we need legislation to come behind it, but that's not going to happen until March, probably, at the earliest. So he's doing everything he can right out of the gate.

ADAM SHAPIRO: And you mentioned the legislation in the Senate. They're still trying to figure out the rules. I wanted to ask you quick, would President Biden, do you think, be behind the scenes pushing both sides? And this issue of the filibuster, it's not in the Constitution, but would the president have skin in this game to push the Democrats? Let's get rid of this, and Mitch McConnell you're done?

RICK NEWMAN: He definitely has skin in the game, but you would need every Democrat to vote in favor of scrapping the filibuster, and there are at least a few who said they're not willing to do that. So that means we're probably going to have to keep playing with the same rules.

I think what's going on here is Joe Biden, he's talking the talk on unity and trying to work with Republicans. But it does seem clear that Democrats, at the same time, are getting prepared to pass legislation just with Democratic votes. So that means you have to use the so-called reconciliation process, which you can only do once every fiscal year. So they could do it once before September 30, and they could do it once again during the following fiscal year.

So if you do that, that means you want to cram everything you got into that one giant package, which could mean a bigger stimulus bill if that's the route that it goes. I think we still have a couple of weeks before we find out if Biden just gives up on getting any bipartisan support from Republicans, but I don't think he's going to get much.

SEANA SMITH: Well, Rick, I think that's a big question going forward. Just within this $1.9 trillion package that he laid out, did he go big in expectation that it's going to be a much slimmer package that actually gets through? I mean, what are you hearing on that? Because I think that's a big question here for Americans going forward.

RICK NEWMAN: Yeah, it's actually kind of interesting. So if Democrats end up passing this legislation just with Democratic votes, then it's probably going to be very big. It's probably going to have clo-- it could have close to $1.9 trillion worth of stuff in it, and it could have the $15 minimum wage, which would be probably a gradual path to $15, but it could have that. If they have a compromise bill that can get 60 votes in the Senate, which means about 10 Republicans, well, there's definitely not going to be a $15 minimum wage, and there's not going to be $1.9 trillion. It might be $1.2 trillion, $1.3 or 4, or something like that.

But that means they would not have to use the reconciliation process for this bill, meaning they get to use it on another big bill that might come later before September 30. So that's what we're looking at, either one big bill they have to pass with reconciliation, which would be close to $1.9 trillion, or a smaller bill that still leaves reconciliation in the pocket of Democrats for them to use later this year.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Rick Newman breaking it down for us. Thank you. When--