The Biden administration faces a host of challenges — from the alarming resurgence in coronavirus infections to paralysis in Washington over stimulus aid to a slowing economic recovery. Roughly 11 million Americans are unemployed; millions more are receiving some form of unemployment insurance; and many face mounting, unpaid utility bills and the loss of protections for paying off student loans and rent, as emergency measures are set to expire by the end of the year. Entire segments of the economy that have yet to recover from the initial outbreak of the virus — including the travel, restaurant and hospitality industries — are expected to slide further as the winter months approach. Here’s what the business world has to say about Biden’s victory, from Bill Gates to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the United Steelworkers:
Stock markets soar
The Dow Jones industrial average spiked nearly 1,600 points, or 5.6 percent, at the opening bell Monday as investors cheered election news and promising vaccine results. Drug giant Pfizer and German biotechnology firm BioNTech said their vaccine candidate was more than 90 percent effective, compared with a placebo. The development was called a “critical milestone” at a time when infection rates are spiking and the strongest sign yet that a vaccine capable of bringing the pandemic to an end might be within reach.
Biden, meanwhile, announced the members of his coronavirus task force, a group composed of doctors and public health experts, signaling his intent to take a science-based approach to bring under control the pandemic that has killed more than 237,000 Americans.
Investors largely dismissed Trump’s refusal to concede. Last week, as vote-counting dragged on, investors appeared to price in a Biden victory and a Republican-held Senate, a dynamic that analysts say could jump-start stimulus talks and lower the risk of Biden ushering new taxes. The S&P 500 had its best week since April.
Big Tech, major brands weigh in
Most corporations were quiet immediately after Election Day. Some, like Ryanair, chose to troll the Trump team after the president falsely claimed victory Wednesday while votes were still being counted: “Trump declaring victory this early is like disembarking before the plane has landed,” the discount carrier tweeted. “We don’t recommend.”
Ben & Jerry’s, an ice cream brand that’s known for political engagement that leans socially progressive, chided Trump. “We can’t believe an ice cream company has to say this,” Ben & Jerry’s tweeted Wednesday. “The President’s lies are a threat to our country. Voters voted. Patriotic election workers are counting votes. Voters will choose the next president.”
Big Tech CEOs and leaders waited until the weekend to jump on the finalized results. On Sunday, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (who also owns The Washington Post) posted a photo of Biden and Harris shaking hands on his Instagram account.
“Unity, empathy, and decency are not characteristics of a bygone era. Congratulations President-elect @JoeBiden and Vice President-elect @KamalaHarris,” Bezos wrote in the post. “By voting in record numbers, the American people proved again that our democracy is strong.”
Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, posted a photo of Harris on Facebook on Saturday, noting her historic win as America’s first woman, first Black and first South Asian vice president-elect.
“There are times when America takes a big step toward creating a government that reflects the diverse country we are. Today is one of those days. I’m thinking with joy about young people across the country watching the news today and thinking, ‘Maybe I can lead this nation too,’ ” Sandberg wrote in the post. “Congratulations to Kamala Harris on this remarkable achievement — shattering glass ceilings and norms around what leadership looks like — and to President-Elect Biden on this historic milestone.”
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, tweeted his congratulations Saturday and thanked the election officials and campaign workers who “worked tirelessly to ensure a record number of Americans could cast a ballot and have it counted during such a challenging time for our country.” He also said he looked forward to working with the new administration and Congress on getting the pandemic under control and “engaging partners around the world on issues like poverty and climate change, and addressing issues of inequality and opportunity at home.”
U.S. Chamber of Commerce says stimulus is top priority
The head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce pledged to work with the Biden administration to prioritize economic recovery.
“While there may be differences of opinion on how to best move forward, our nation must rally around the common cause of recovery. On this, there can be no division. We stand ready to help break through the gridlock and help get things done through collaboration and good governance,” the group’s chief executive, Thomas J. Donohue, said in a statement Saturday.
“Job number one must be pandemic relief. American small businesses cannot afford for Congress to wait another three months to act. We stand ready to help our leaders get this much-needed legislation passed as quickly as possible. Looking ahead to the next administration, modernizing our infrastructure has broad support and can drive the growth and jobs we need now. If the Biden administration prioritizes something that can — and must — be done in a collaborative manner, it can set the tone for good governance on other priorities essential to rebuilding our economy.”
Retail industry group looks for economic recovery
The National Retail Federation, a trade group that advocates on behalf of 16,000 companies, called for unity in a statement released Saturday and pledged to work with the new administration.
“After a historic and unprecedented election season, the country has selected our next Commander in Chief through its longstanding democratic process. We must rise above the political rhetoric that has divided our nation and remember we are Americans first,” the group’s president and CEO, Matthew Shay, said in a statement. “Now is the time to come together and unite around the substantial challenges we face and for the betterment of our country.”
“As the largest private sector employer in the country, the retail industry looks forward to continuing our tradition of working with presidents and their administrations of both major political parties to advance the industry’s priorities in job creation, economic development and career opportunities for millions of Americans. We congratulate President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris on a hard-fought victory.”
Food and retail workers: It’s ‘time to heal and bridge our divisions’
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, the nation’s largest private-sector union with 1.3 million members, said the election spoke to the power of “hard-working men and women” in shaping the nation’s future, according to a statement released Saturday applauding Biden’s win.
“Millions of hard-working Americans voted in historic numbers in this election, making their voices heard in a call for a return to unity,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in the release. “This election proves the power that hard-working men and women have, including over a million UFCW members, in shaping a stronger future for this nation. Regardless of who we voted for, now is the time to heal and bridge our divisions. We are all Americans first, and we should join together to wish President-elect Joe Biden success — for his success will ensure the success of this great nation.”
UFCW has pushed for health protections for front-line workers employed at such essential businesses as meatpacking plants and grocery stores during the coronavirus pandemic. In August, the union praised Biden’s call for a national mask mandate.
Steelworker union calls for focus on infrastructure
The United Steelworkers, which represents 800,000 workers in metal and energy industries, expressed hope the new administration would usher in a “new era in Washington” of prioritizing working Americans.
“The President-elect ran on a platform, which the USW supported, of containing the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring access to quality health care, getting our economy back on track and putting millions of Americans back to work. These must be the top priorities as the new administration transitions and prepares to take office in January,” according to a statement released Saturday by President Tom Conway.
“In particular, the USW looks forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration on their plan to invest $1.3 trillion over 10 years to rebuild and modernize our crumbling infrastructure using American-made products. This comprehensive infrastructure plan is central to our economic recovery and must be a top priority for the newly elected president and Congress.
“We also are excited about the incoming administration’s stated goal of empowering workers and making it easier for them to form unions and bargain collectively with their employers. For too long, our leaders in Washington have sided with corporate America to silence workers’ voices. It’s time for a president who has workers’ backs and stands with the people on Main Street instead of Wall Street.”
Business Roundtable says vote recount won’t change results
Business Roundtable, an association of top corporate chief executives, congratulated the Biden-Harris ticket and commended Trump “for a hard-fought campaign.” It also said it saw no path for Trump’s legal team to change the outcome and urged Americans to find “common ground.”
“While we respect the Trump campaign’s right to seek recounts, to call for investigation of alleged voting irregularities where evidence exists and to exhaust legitimate legal remedies, there is no indication that any of these would change the outcome,” the group said in a Saturday news release.
“As we enter another period of closely divided government, we call on elected officials and Americans across the political spectrum to work in good faith to find common ground. Our country faces great challenges in the months ahead to defeat the pandemic and rebuild our economy. We will meet them only by working together.”