United States President Joe Biden, just shy of completing 100 days in office, gave his first address to Congress on Wednesday, 28 April.
Biden kicked off his speech thanking “Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President”, and emphasised that, “No president had ever said those words from this podium and it’s about time.”
This was the first time the US president delivered his speech, standing in front of Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who are the first and second in line of presidential succession.
COVID-19 Vaccination Programme
Biden said that after inheriting a country in crisis, “Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again. Turning peril into possibility, crisis into opportunity, setback into strength.”
Saying that there is no quit in America, Biden applauded the country’s vaccination programme and said, “After I promised 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots in 100 days – we will have provided over 220 million COVID shots in 100 days.”
Urging Americans to get vaccinated, Biden informed that 90 percent of Americans now live within 5 miles of a vaccination site.
America Rescue Plan
Biden went on to list other efforts made by his administration, including sending $1,400 rescue cheques to 85 percent of all American households. He asserted, “We’ve already sent more than 160 million cheques out the door.”
He added that because of the America Rescue Plan and efforts to cut down child poverty in America in half, the economy created 1.3 million jobs in 100 days.
“We’re creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. We’re delivering real results people can see and feel in their own lives. Opening the doors of opportunity. Guaranteeing fairness and justice.”
The American Jobs Plan
The US President said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated America’s economy to grow at a rate of more than six percent this year.
However, he added, “We have to do more than just build back. We have to build back better.”
Biden emphasised that public investment and infrastructure have always transformed America and proposed his ‘American Jobs Plan’.
Biden stressed that all the investments in the plan will be guided by one principle: ‘Buy American’ and added, “The American Jobs Plan will create millions of good-paying jobs – jobs Americans can raise their families on.”
Assuring American workers that the jobs will not be outsourced. “The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America,” he declared.
White Supremacist Terrorism, the Most Lethal Terrorist Threat to the Homeland Today
Biden stressed on bringing troops back home, “after 20 years of American valour and sacrifice” and added that, “we will maintain an over-the-horizon capability to suppress future threats to the homeland”.
The US President then said that as per intelligence agencies, “the most lethal terrorist threat to the homeland today is from white supremacist terrorism”.
Saying, “We have come together to root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system. And to enact police reform in George Floyd’s name that passed the House already,” Biden urged the Republicans to work together and find a consensus.
“We have a giant opportunity to bend to the arc of the moral universe toward justice,” Biden added.
'American Families Plan' and Taxes
Biden’s idea of leaning on the super-rich to fund his latest spending proposal, has received popular support.
The $1.8 trillion American Families Plan would invest money into early education, childcare, and higher education. However, the plan will need approval by a Congress that remains deeply divided.
To fund this, the top income tax rate would increase from 37 percent, where Trump’s plan had put it, back to 39.6 percent.
According to the White House, billions will be raised in a tightened tax regime for inherited wealth. The plan would also end loopholes and capital income tax breaks.
Biden assured Americans earning less than $400,000 a year, that they would face no extra taxes and added, "My fellow Americans, trickle-down economics has never worked. It's time to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out. What I've proposed is fair."
Biden concluded his speech saying, “We have stared into an abyss of insurrection and autocracy – of pandemic and pain – and “We the People” did not flinch.”
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)