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Biden becomes 46th US president, with plans to roll back key Trump policies

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Biden becomes 46th US president, with plans to roll back key Trump policies

Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the U.S. on Jan. 20, taking office with pledges to immediately reverse key parts of the Trump administration's economic agenda and to work with Congress on a new, larger pandemic relief package.

"We'll press forward with speed and urgency for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities," Biden said in his inaugural address. "Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build and much to gain."

On his first day as president, Biden is set to issue 15 executive orders and two executive actions, including orders to rejoin the Paris Agreement on climate change and the World Health Organization. Then-President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement in November 2020 and from the WHO in May 2020.

Biden will also move on Day 1 to cancel the permit of TC Energy Corp.'s Keystone XL oil pipeline project, which Trump approved during his first week in office. In addition, the new president will sign an order to halt funding for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and ask that construction of the barrier stop immediately.

Signing orders to extend moratoriums on student loan payments, foreclosures and evictions, and mandating face coverings on federal property were also part of Biden's Day 1 agenda.

Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion pandemic rescue package on Jan. 14, with plans to disclose another spending plan next month, focusing on longer-term goals such as job creation and infrastructure.

The relief package follows a $900 billion compromise bill Trump signed Dec. 27, 2020, that included $600 checks to Americans earning less than $75,000 per year.

U.S. GDP expanded at an annual rate of 33.4% in the third quarter of 2020 following a record 31.4% plunge in the prior three-month period, but economic momentum faded late in 2020 as new CVOID-19 infections continued to spike and stimulus talks dragged on. The economy lost 140,000 jobs in December, the first monthly loss since April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

U.S. GDP is expected to decline by an annualized 2.3% in the fourth quarter of 2020, S&P Global Ratings said Jan. 9.

With 9.8 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic, the U.S. is unlikely to return to the February 2020 level of employment until 2023, S&P Global Ratings said.

Confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases exceeded 24.2 million by Jan. 20, with more than 400,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Before the pandemic struck, the U.S. economy under Trump was on a path of moderate expansion, with growth of 2.22% in 2017, 3.18% in 2018 and 2.33% in 2019.

A longer-term policy goal of Biden is to at least partially reverse Trump's signature economic policy achievement, the 2017 federal tax overhaul, which cut the corporate income tax from 35% to 21%.

Boosted in part by the tax cuts, large corporations saw stock gains during Trump's term, with the S&P 500 up 67.8% since he took office in 2017. By comparison, the large-cap index rose 74.8% in President Barack Obama's first term and 52.3% in his second term.