Biden Sets Out Priorities for White House, While Trump Casts Doubt on Election

President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris launch website outlining immediate goals for incoming administration, while Trump calls election 'stolen.'
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If it's true that Wall Street likes government gridlock, then it might just get more than it's bargained for in 2020, as the dueling political realities of the United States of America seemed on full display on Sunday: While Democratic President-elect Joe Biden began to outline his plans for after taking office in January, Republican President Donald Trump continued to cast his rival's win as illegitimate.

Biden, along with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, launched the website buildbackbetter.com the day after their projected win of the White House, promoting their priorities for their new jobs. 

First on the agenda: Creating a new, science-based task-force and seven-point plan to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic that has plagued the presidency of Trump, who often played down the virus and made baseless claims about it, such as that it would disappear in April or that it was nothing more than the "sniffles." 

As of Sunday, more than 9.9 million Americans were known to have been infected with the virus, with nearly 238,000 dead. The daily new case counts were topping 125,000, according to the Johns Hopkins' disease-tracking site.

Biden said the day before that one of his first priorities would be to "get Covid under control" and that that was the only way to get both the economy and life back to normal. 

"I will spare no effort -- none -- or any commitment to turn around this pandemic."

Included in Biden's promised agenda are plans to expand drive-through testing sites, invest in "next-generation" testing, and create a so-called public health jobs corps.

Biden also issued goals for economic recovery, addressing racism in the U.S. and climate change. 

In a speech on Saturday night, Biden said he wanted his White House to "look and act" like America and he vowed to restore America's image around the world -- to make America "respected" again.

And the world is watching. In the days leading up to the results, newspapers from Paris to Tokyo showed daily counts of the results, just as the ones in the U.S. had. 

A screen grab of the Japanese newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun, shows the U.S. election took center stage as the votes were counted last week.

A screen grab of the Japanese newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun, shows the U.S. election took center stage as the votes were counted last week.

But even as the vote count wound down over the weekend -- showing the Biden camp locked in 279 electoral votes to Trump's 214, according to Reuters -- Trump continued through Sunday to cast doubt on the election results.

Over Twitter, Trump made claims that votes were "stolen," saying that “We believe these people are thieves. The big city machines are corrupt. This was a stolen election. Best pollster in Britain wrote this morning that this clearly was a stolen election, that it’s impossible to imagine that Biden outran Obama in some of these states."

Yet, as of Sunday morning, Biden had appeared to have taken Georgia's 16 electoral votes, as well as Pennsylvania's 20, Michigan's 16, Wisconsin's 10 and Nevada's six. He also was winning the popular vote, at just over 74 million to Trump's just over 70 million, according to Reuters. 

"71,000,000 Legal Votes. The most EVER for a sitting President!," said Trump over Twitter, about the results. On Saturday, when Biden was proclaimed the projected winner of the election, Trump claimed on Twitter that, "I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!"

Trump even posted a fragment of a Twitter post by Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Chair of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, who also called for scrutiny of the count. 

"There is a history of premature election calls in this country," said Turley in a post over Twitter, saying that there is "currently no evidence of systemic fraud in the election but there is ample reason to conduct reviews... Biden himself should tell the Democratic Party to support such scrutiny and transparency now that the initial tabulations are being completed. That is not easy for any politician, but it would be the ultimate presidential act by the presumptive president-elect."

By Sunday afternoon, former Republican U.S. president George W. Bush called to congratulate Biden on his victory.

He called the large voter turnout a "positive sign on the health of our democracy."

As for what a Biden presidency could mean for China -- the issue that dominated Trump's term before the pandemic eclipsed virtually all other matters -- some experts questioned whether the relationship between the two nations would only get worse.

"A Biden presidency won’t reverse the tide of US-China decoupling and could lead to economic strains on new fronts if climate change and human rights become greater US priorities," wrote Capital Economics' China economist Julian Evans-Pritchard in a report late last week. Evans-Pritchard expects U.S. trade barriers against China to remain for a while and that reviving trade talks "does not appear to be a Biden priority." 

"If talks do resume at some point," wrote Evans-Pritchard, "the tariffs would probably only be reversed in exchange for concessions from China. But that may not be straightforward. Whereas Mr Trump was willing to settle for a Chinese pledge to step up purchases of US goods, Biden has said that his focus will be on structural issues including intellectual property and industrial policy, where China would be much less willing to give ground. ... Parts of Chinese industry may face even higher US barriers." 

By Friday -- while the results were still uncertain, but many observers had bet that Biden would take the White House -- stocks had finished mixed following a four-day long rally that started on Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average on Friday slipped 0.24% to 28,323 and the S&P 500 fell 0.03% to 3509. The Nasdaq rose a bit -- by 0.04% -- to 11,895.23. But the S&P 500 showed its best week since April, according to FactSet.

This story has been updated.