Joe Biden Tells Congress “America Is On The Move Again” – Deadline

President Joe Biden used the platform of a joint session of Congress to present and promote an ambitious agenda that includes massive infrastructure projects and an expansion in health care, education and benefits, the everything paid for by an increase in tax rates for businesses and high-income individuals. employees.

But the president also took advantage of his first speech to the House and Senate, small in size due to strict Covid-19 protocols, to clinch a victory lap on the eve of his 100th day in office.

“One hundred days since I took an oath, removed my hand from our family Bible, and inherited a nation in crisis,” Biden said. “We’ve all done it. The worst pandemic in a century. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The worst attack on our democracy since the civil war, ”a reference to the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill.

How to watch Joe Biden’s speech to the Joint Session of Congress online and on TV

“Now, after just 100 days, I can give an account to the nation: America is on the move again.”

The speech was also a historic milestone: for the first time, two women, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris, sat behind a Speaker delivering the speech.

After hailing Pelosi and Harris as “Madam President” and “Madam Vice President,” Biden said, “No president has ever said these words, and it is time.”

The impact of Covid-19 was apparent from the crowd in the room: a drastically reduced number of members split three to eight seats apart, with elected officials sitting even in the third-floor area usually reserved for visitors. Lighter applause and cheers have replaced what are usually loud greetings for the Commander-in-Chief. Instead of handshakes, Biden punched figures like Chief Justice John Roberts and Senator Bernie Sanders. All members and participants were required to wear masks, although Biden removed his as he spoke.

The scene was much different from that of the last presidential speech before a joint session, in February 2020, when Donald Trump took the opportunity for a full house to do stunts resembling a reality show, like the attribution. of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh. .

Biden has previously traveled the country trying to sell a $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, called the American Jobs Plan, which includes spending on traditional projects like roads and bridges, as well as an upgrade. level of the electricity grid, improvements in drinking water and wider deployment. broadband. The plan also includes upgrading affordable housing and schools and strengthening home health care.

It is still unclear how the plan will pass through Congress to ensure its passage. Republicans wavered at the plan, not only for its size but for its scope, as they questioned whether the list of items would really qualify as infrastructure.

A group of Republicans are proposing an alternative proposal, and Biden has said he welcomes the alternative ideas.

“But the rest of the world is not waiting for us. I want to be clear: doing nothing is not an option, ”he said.

Biden said the plan is for those who “feel left behind and forgotten in a rapidly changing economy.”

“The American Jobs Plan is a blue collar plan to build America,” Biden said. “And that recognizes something I’ve always said: Wall Street didn’t build this country. The middle class built this country. And the unions have built the middle class.

He called for the passage of the Law on the Protection of the Right to Organize, which would strengthen unionization, even if it faces a threshold of 60 votes to pass to the Senate.

Earlier Wednesday, the White House unveiled another aspect of Biden’s agenda, called the US Plan for Families, a $ 1.8 trillion proposal that includes a free universal preschool for three and four year olds, as well as two years of free community college. such as an increase in Pell grants and increased support for teachers. The plan also includes nationwide paid family and medical leave, offering workers up to $ 4,000 per month, with a minimum of two-thirds of the average weekly wage replaced, and higher for lower-paid workers. . Another proposal would provide low- and middle-income families with funding so they don’t pay more than 7% of their income for high-quality child care.

Biden’s plan also calls for reforming unemployment insurance, with adjustments to benefits based on economic conditions.

The plan would expand the benefits of the Affordable Care Act premiums and extend an increased child tax credit, put in place as part of the administration’s Covid-19 relief bill, until 2025 .

To pay for the plan, Biden wants to raise the top tax rate on the richest to 39.6%, reversing part of President Donald Trump’s tax bill, which lowered the top rate to 37%. It would also make changes so that households earning more than $ 1 million pay 39.6% of their income from capital gains. It would also eliminate the ability of taxpayers to pass on capital gains to heirs. Biden’s plan would also end the so-called “interest-bearing loophole,” which allows equity funds and hedge funds to pay a lower rate of appreciation on their income.

The tax rate increases would be in addition to those announced as part of the U.S. Jobs Plan, which plans to raise the corporate tax rate to 28%, from 21%. Companies, including Hollywood studios, lobbied a lot for the reduction in 2017.

Biden said, “When you hear someone say they don’t want to raise taxes for the richest 1% and corporate America, ask them: who are you going to raise taxes instead and from whom? are you going to reduce? Look at the big tax cut in 2017. It was supposed to be self-financing and generate considerable economic growth. Instead, he added $ 2 trillion to the deficit. It was a huge boon for American companies and those at the top. “

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