New Deal for National Security
Kartikeya Singh reflects on the Biden administration's first 100 days in office in a commentary piece for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Perhaps the biggest threats to U.S. national security now are not driven by forces that come from beyond our borders, but rather a constellation of factors driving social instability and deep divisions within the country. To right these wrongs and chart a new deal for all American people, the Biden administration has indicated through its actions in the first 100 days that it has every intention to reestablish a social contract between the people and their government. If implemented well, this renewed social contract, with an emphasis on climate action and environmental justice, would be the best guarantor of U.S. national security.
Guiding this new focus on environmental justice as the vehicle to deliver a new social contract is a whole-of-government approach that was activated when Biden signed the executive order on securing environmental justice and equitable economic opportunity. The extent of the reorganization in federal agencies, from the EPA to the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services, is unprecedented. Furthermore, the American Rescue Plan includes several provisions that aim to deliver on this social contract by strengthening energy, water, and health infrastructure for low-income communities. For some perspective, the EPA will be releasing more environmental justice–focused grants in the next year than it has since its inception.
More promising is the prospect of what is on the horizon: the American Jobs Plan could provide major investments in infrastructure and at the same time ensure environmental justice is delivered. Should Congress have the courage to deliver on this vision, it would be allocating funds that could create jobs focused on ecological restoration in communities dependent on the declining fossil fuel value chain or restore communities of color fractured by large-scale infrastructure. “Trickle-down economics has never worked. It’s time to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out,” stated the president in a recent tweet. Indeed, this is the best down payment toward U.S. national security.