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PM Ardern and President Biden as a comparison

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, January 23rd, 2021 - 34 comments
Categories: climate change, covid-19, immigration, jacinda ardern, Joe Biden, us politics - Tags:

On his first day in office, the 78-year old Joe Biden did the following:

  • Required mask-wearing on Federal property
  • Rejoined the World Health Organisation
  • Set up a Covid19 Response office that reported directly to the President
  • Extended foreclosure and eviction moratoriums
  • Froze student debt collection
  • Rejoined the paris Climate Accords
  • Revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, and other Trump anti-environmental measures
  • Stopped the 1776 Commission
  • Unwound Trump’s changes to the census
  • Strengthened legal protections for “Dreamers” unofficial migrants
  • Abolished the Muslim ban
  • Massively limited Immigration officials’ capacity to deport
  • Halted construction of the wall
  • Extended deportation protection for Liberians
  • Banned workplace discrimination against LGBT employees
  • Implemented an ethics pledge for all Federal officials
  • Froze all Trump administration regulations currently in process

Just imagine what a similarly focused Ardern government could achieve on its first day back in the year.

34 comments on “PM Ardern and President Biden as a comparison ”

  1. Byd0nz 1

    But hasn't banned war.

    • RedLogix 1.1

      The state 'banned personal violence' by implementing laws, courts and a police system that reserved the right to violence to itself. By giving up the right to personal revenge and coercion, we gained for the very large part – freedom from personal violence.

      The same logic will apply to the nations states. War is the analog of personal violence and the same process will apply. If you want war to end (and I agree it must) then the right of state to conduct it must be given up in favour of a supra-national entity that has laws, courts and the means to enforce the peace.

      Or to put it more simply – everyone wishes for 'wars to be banned', but we don't yet want it enough to form the entity with the authority to enforce such a ban.

      • Morrissey 1.1.1

        …. then the right of state to conduct it must be given up in favour of a supra-national entity that has laws, courts and the means to enforce the peace.

        That's the International Criminal Court. The United States, like some other outlaw regimes, refuses to submit to its jurisdiction.

        • RedLogix

          That indeed is a good example of how an inadequately based global entity like the ICC runs into difficulties with exercising it's authority. Like a town sheriff with no guns and a local jefe who really runs the place. Nor is it hard to find other local heavies who've run from the law when it suited them.

          The actual story of the ICC is more complex than you paint however; it's quite interesting.

          The real question is this; what would it take for all of the nations to cede part of their sovereignty to a supra-national body. Especially with regards to their national security?

          • Morrissey

            I did not "paint a picture" of the ICC, I pointed out that it was precisely what you were advocating, viz., "a supra-national entity that has laws, courts and the means to enforce the peace."

            • RedLogix

              In my view that while the ICC was undeniably a good idea, it never attained the commitment across the board to permit it to succeed.

              I'll go back to my original parallel; the reason why nation states are mostly lawful and peaceful places is that ordinary citizens forgo the right to coercion and revenge and place it solely in the hands of the nation state.

              In the case of the ICC that never really happened; while most nations signed up to the ICC, there was never the necessary commitment to cede the nation state's own authority and interests. And while I agree the USA is the most outstanding culprit in this respect, it's also understandable given that as by far the most powerful sovereign nation it had the most at stake.

              If we are ever going to create effective global authorities – which the nation states do acknowledge their legitimate and permanent authority – they will need to be firmly founded in clear principles and processes that are transparent and trusted. We're not there yet.

  2. Sarah 2

    The 2017 Ardern Govt put in place many things which were relevant to NZ in their first 100 days of govt. They’re meeting in Nelson to focus on what to prioritise this term right now, but you’re negative before anything has been announced. Jacinda is lauded around the world as possibly the best political leader of our time and you compare her with an untested President.

  3. froggleblocks 3

    Just imagine what a similarly focused Ardern government could achieve on its first day back in the year.

    Far less than this, because New Zealand's system of government requires the vast majority of things to go through Parliament and be assented by the crown. Our Prime Minister does not have the sort of powers required to do the things in this list.

    The US political system is different, allowing for the President to use Executive Orders to do the things you've listed.

    Personally I prefer New Zealand's much more stable and considered system of government that doesn’t vest huge powers in a single person, resulting in massive see-saws in the state of governance whenever a new president is elected.

    You're welcome to petition for the American system if you want, though, but I doubt you’ll get many NZers agreeing with you that it’s better than what we have.

    • woodart 3.1

      good post froggle. comparing our form of gov to america's and the power the pres has to sign sweeping laws to our p.m.s is a fools game. as half of bidens first day was taken up signing cease and desist orders, and the rest,waving a magic wand. no select committees, no public input. if jacinda did that, imagine the whingeing about unbridled power!

    • DS 3.2

      Actually, a New Zealand Prime Minister – with a parliamentary majority – has far greater constitutional power than the US President.

      The Executive Order system in the USA is a desperate work-around for a dysfunctional Congress and politically-motivated courts. Sure, it can achieve a fair amount, but for truly Big issues (Obamacare), you can't use it. One needs to get stuff through Congress, and hope the courts behave themselves.

      By contrast, a New Zealand Prime Minister (via our strict whipping system) never has to worry about their own MPs rebelling, and our courts recognise parliamentary sovereignty. Nor is there an upper house. The Government can, quite literally, do anything, as 1975-1993 showed. On paper, Jacinda Ardern has the power of a dictator.

      • froggleblocks 3.2.1

        NZ PM still doesn't have the power to unilaterally enact law on their whim like the US President does. Whipping is a convention, not a law – MPs don’t have to vote for what their PM is trying to do if they don’t like it.

        This post is snidely suggesting that if Ardern were "similarly focused" she'd do a similar raft of law changes on her first day back this year. But she doesn't have the ability to do that in our system.

        Rushing things through under urgency is frowned upon and in general is not done, and it typically takes 7-10 days for the Crown to assent to things anyway.

        • Incognito

          This post is snidely suggesting that if Ardern were "similarly focused" she'd do a similar raft of law changes on her first day back this year. [my emphasis]

          I think you might be seeing and reading things in the post that aren’t really there.

          There’s no 'snideness', as far as I can tell.

          The first sentence of the OP sets up the contrast in age between Biden (78) and Ardern (40).

          The OP did not suggest that Ardern and/or her Government should embark/enact on Law changes, so that’s a red herring.

          The take-home message of the OP is, to me, what can be achieved through focus and (political) will & boldness and the answer: a lot!

          • froggleblocks

            what can be achieved through focus and (political) will & boldness

            And a political system that allows these things to be done by one person, which again, we don't have.

            • Incognito

              It seems that your “these things” are different from mine. Our political system is different from the US but it is quite capable of achieving “things”. It makes no sense to compare POTUS with the NZ PM in the way DS and you seem to be doing, which is to highlight the differences, incompatibilities, and impossibilities of each position & system; a mug’s game, IMO. What matters is that in/with both systems “things” can (and must!) be achieved by people who are in the right place & time and who have the right mind-set.

              • froggleblocks

                I'm not the one who wrote a post enumerating Biden's specific accomplishments on his first day in office with the title "PM Ardern and President Biden as a comparison" suggesting that Ardern isn't "similarly focussed" when it isn’t a lack of “focus” that is preventing her from acting similarly.

        • DS

          The President doesn't unilaterally enact legislation. Executive Orders basically have the status of regulations within our system – it is a comparatively limited thing, and only gets wheeled out because Congress is so dysfunctional.

          Under the New Zealand system, our monstrously powerful legislature can move at warp speed on any issue, without fear of court intervention. Jacinda has an absolute majority, and as such can do literally anything – her MPs will vote as she dictates. Or to put it another way, Rogernomics was only viable because our system has no checks and balances, and Jacinda could do the same tomorrow, if she had the political will to do so.

          • froggleblocks

            Whipping is a convention, not a law.

            She cannot do "literally anything".

            • DS

              Conventions are how the New Zealand system operates. There is no statute referring to Cabinet, but it exists.

              Are you seriously suggesting that Labour MPs (a majority of the House) won't ask "how high" when Jacinda says "jump"? Our parliamentary parties are far more disciplined that the USA or even the UK.

              • froggleblocks

                Yes, I'm suggesting that if Ardern proposed we euthanise all blue eyed babies at birth, a majority of Parliament would not support the proposal.

                Thus, she cannot do "literally anything" as you claimed.

                On a more realistic level – there are entrenched provisions that require a 2/3rds majority to repeal, which Labour does not command themselves.

                So she cannot do "literally anything" as you claimed.

                And again she would have to follow Parliamentary process, which takes several days to complete. She cannot unilaterally change regulations the way Biden has done.

    • Darien Fenton 3.3

      Yes absolutely what you said. +1

  4. Weasel 4

    Ardern promised transformation, mainly on poverty/ inequality, and climate action but has delivered next to nothing. Sure the Zero Carbon Act has been passed but nothing has changed in terms of our rising emissions. The only thing we will get is a report from the new Commissioner admonishing us on how poorly we are doing.
    On poverty and inequality, Ardern has given unequivocal promises that she essentially intends to do nothing – no capital gains tax while she remains leader, no adjustments in income tax rate other than the risible new top rate on earners above $150k (a tiny minority) . There is no realistic alternative to poverty and inequality alleviation than tax change.
    As Bernard Hickey has forensically analysed over numerous articles, Ardern has no desire or intent to do anything to address the housing crisis, which lies at the heart of inequality and poverty. Her government's focus, just as John Key's was, is on focus groups, which tell her that the majority, ie those who have houses, love house price rises because it makes them feel wealthier. And Jacinda loves the idea of Labour being re-elected so she loves focus groups.
    So will Labour do anything to change/transform our current trajectory on inequality, poverty or climate change? Bet your house(s) on the opposite.

  5. RedLogix 5

    Early days to judge TeamBiden. The list in the OP does contain a number of welcome and overdue reversal of Trump's more erratic and destructive policies. But none address the elephant in the room:

    The “normalcy” that Biden is preparing to return the US to, then, is very different from the “normalcy” promised by his predecessor. In many ways, the septuagenarian Democrat is a personification of the destructive Clinton-Bush-Obama consensus that bears a significant responsibility for producing Donald Trump.

    But it is difficult to blame voters for being wooed by this restorationist message nonetheless, especially after the tumult of the past few months: in a choice between the reckless and often downright shameful nature of Trump’s behaviour – which culminated in the January 6 riot at the US Capitol that took the lives of at least five people – and what felt, at least on the surface, like some semblance of sanity and competence, it is entirely understandable that many Americans chose the latter.

    Trump’s tenure in the executive branch has undoubtedly inflamed and exacerbated the significant challenges that the US currently faces. But Biden and his counterparts do not seem to have bothered to consider why the erstwhile president’s populist energy has proved so potent. And for that reason, the incoming administration’s business-as-usual approach to governance is inevitably going to further energise the forces that swept Trump into power in the years to come.

    Right now the Republican party is almost entirely consisting of several flavours of populists. Many will recognise that Trump's departure, while robbing them of a potent figurehead, frees them from dealing with the burden of his more destructive, erratic impulses. This opportunity will not be left on the table.

    Keep in mind the Capitol invasion was undertaken by a crowd of fewer than 20,000, barely 10% of whom actually stormed the barricades. The vast majority of Trump supporters did not grab a can of bear spray or a gun and march on Washington. They did not respond to Trump's inflammatory language and are as inclined against political violence as most other US citizens.

    But these non-violent rightist populists are not a passive part of America's cultural fabric, they can still communicate and are undeniably in charge of the current iteration of the Republican Party. When Trump mobilised them, voter rolls increased by at least ten million. There certainly are more rightist populists in the Republican Party today than any other Republican faction. It is likely they are the largest single political faction in the United States. Even if the populists break with Trump, that is hardly the same as saying they would break from Trumpism, which is hardly the same as saying they will simply fade into the background.

    The important idea to takeaway from this, is not so much the potential threat this Trumpist faction presents, but to understand that it was created in reaction to the manifest failures of the Clinton-Bush-Obama consensus, and it's impact on working class Americans. And if Biden merely attempts to 'restore normalcy' by subtending his name to that list – the consequences will be very predictable.

  6. Gabby 6

    The $2000 relief cheques seem to have evaporated but.

    • Sabine 6.2

      Biden / Democrat


      Senior Democratic lawmakers are moving to fulfill President Biden’s desire to expand the child tax credit by drafting legislation that would direct the IRS to send recurring monthly payments to tens of millions of American families, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share knowledge of the internal discussion.

      Under one draft of the plan being discussed, the IRS would be tasked with depositing checks worth $300 every month per child younger than 6, as well as $250 every month per child age 6 to 17. That would amount to $3,600 over the course of the year for young children, as well as $3,000 a year for older children, the officials said.

      Unlike with the stimulus checks, the Biden administration and Democratic lawmakers are hoping to make these child benefits a permanent government program that would continue in future years, according to three senior Democratic officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning. The current proposal calls only for the expanded benefit to be enacted for one year, after which Democrats widely hope political pressure will force Congress to extend them. The benefit would be phased out for affluent Americans, though the precise income level has not been determined.

      vs Jacinda Ardern / Labour


      More than 60 organisations – and counting – have signed an open letter to the government, urging it to increase income support to liveable levels to release families from dire poverty.

      When asked yesterday about our open letter calling for benefits to be lifted before Christmas, Jacinda Ardern replied, “this is not going to be an issue that can be resolved in one week, or one month or indeed one term”. Her government have already had one term. What, exactly, are they waiting for?

      as for the 2000 check, Biden started his job 2 days ago – and still has a 50/50 senate to contend with – at least now he can push it past McConell, J.A. has been at it now for one full term, and she started her second one end of October 2020 – and she won that second term with an outright majority. Maybe give him till next week before declaring him a failure on that.

  7. mauī 7

    Well there's heaps in there for the average american… No wonder Joe won the most votes.. ever.

  8. Macro 8

    Here is another comparison..

    Female leader has male Minister of Finance

    Male leader has first female Secretary of Treasury.

    When then-President-elect Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Janet Yellen for secretary of the treasury, he joked that “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda should write a musical about her.

    “We might have to ask Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the musical about the first secretary of the treasury, ‘Hamilton,’ to write another musical for the first woman secretary of the treasury — Yellen,” he said.

    So “Marketplace” asked Dessa, a member of the hip-hop collective Doomtree and one of the artists who contributed to “The Hamilton Mixtape,” to think about what that might sound like. Here’s what she and her collaborators came up with:


    " Vocals and Lyrics by Dessa Production by Lazerbeak and Andy Thompson HOOK

    Oooo, who’s Yellen now? Who’s Yellen, who’s Yellen now?

    VERSE 1 Doves on the left Hawks on the right Crosstalk in the flock tryna fight mid-flight But here comes Yellen with that inside voice Never mind the mild manner, policies make noise She’s 5-foot nothing, but hand to God She can pop a collar, she can rock a power bob Bay Ridge represent! Brooklyn’s in the cabinet! Damn, Janet, go and get it — Fifth in line for president! She knows the kinda stimulus it takes to pass a buck I heard she called the housing crisis She’s qualified as ffff — It only took a couple centuries The first female secretary of the treasury

    BRIDGE Don’t want no tax evasion Forgers faking In her treasury Trying for higher wages For the nation Less disparity

    VERSE 2 Watch your step, there's busted glass Janet broke another ceiling You can bet your brass That the Lego guy is leaving Last check to cash — 'Scuse me, Janet has a briefing and a flight to catch And Janet She’s the first that’s led The Council of Economic Advisers, Tresh and the Fed, She needs a three-sided coin that always comes up heads To put the triple crown down when she goes to bed Call the decorators New boss in the office Spenders and the savers Watch the confirmation process We got to meet her Now let’s let her settle in And lift up your mojitos — 'Cause she manages the mint


  9. Chris 9

    "Just imagine what a similarly focused Ardern government could achieve on its first day back in the year."

    Yes, just imagine…

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