A new era for American politics
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A new era for American politics

The new US administration will face many challenges. High on the agenda will be climate policy, international trade, government debt and most pressingly, how to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

In our latest Credit Suisse podcast, Brian Blackstone speaks with Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and former Ambassador to Greece and NATO and currently professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, about the foreign policy implications of the US elections as well as some domestic policy considerations.

Less than one week after Americans went to the polls on Nov. 3, former Vice President Joe Biden has apparently surpassed the number of Electoral College votes needed to become president. He has received congratulations from a number of world leaders, even as the possibility of recounts and legal challenges remain. Democrats appear on track to retain control of the House of Representatives while Republicans have a good possibility of maintaining the Senate.

Here are some of Ambassador Burns' thoughts.

America's role in the world

"I think that Joe Biden is going to return to very active engagement with the world and American leadership and involvement in the world. He's been very clear as a candidate during the election that just concluded that the United States needs to return to its alliances."

Climate policy

"I think climate change will be a central priority. President-elect Biden said consistently on the campaign trail that we had to have a long-term plan for a clean energy future."

International trade

"I think this is one of those areas that did not have a lot of attention during the last three or four months on the campaign trail. Trade is a contested issue in the United States the way it is frankly in much of the world right now including in Europe. It's very unclear from either the Republican party's perspective post Donald Trump or the Democratic party's perspective what the road is on trade."

Government debt

"It was not a major campaign issue and you haven't seen a return of the budget deficit hawks. Most people would say this is actually the time to spend and you've got to spend in order to protect people's health care, protect people who are less fortunate in terms of income and circumstances and to get small businesses going and to get the American productive capacity going again. It's only when you've done that that maybe you return to mid-term and longer-term concern about the budget deficit."

COVID-19 response

On Biden's transition team. "They are talking about a vaccine, it's production of course, and its equitable distribution. They are talking about the defence production act… to expand the production of critical technologies to produce masks and protective coverings that our healthcare workers are going to need. It's a very dramatic expansion of the energy and commitment of the American government to help the American people."