Joe Biden addresses both houses of Congress for the first time.
President Joe Biden said that, one hundred days after he came to power, the new administration has managed to restore faith in democracy and begin the process of rebuilding the economy affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden said this, speaking on Wednesday at a joint meeting of both houses of Congress.
In some ways, Biden’s speech today has already become historic: for the first time in history, two women, Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi, sat behind the second and third person of the state – the vice president and the speaker of the Lower House.
He noted the first visible results, primarily in vaccination and the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. According to Biden, in the first hundred days of his presidency, Americans received more than 220 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The president’s speech at the Capitol building began at 9:00 pm East Coast time. Biden outlined the priorities of his administration until the end of his first year in office and presented a report on the work he has already done.
As the head of the White House said, a hundred days have passed since he took the oath of office, inheriting a country in crisis, experiencing the worst pandemic in a hundred years, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and experiencing the most powerful attack on American democracy since the Civil War. “Now, in just a hundred days,” Biden said, “I can report to the nation that America is back on its feet, turning dangers into opportunities, turning crisis into prospects, and failure into our strength.”
Successes of the first 100 days of the Presidency
According to the head of state, during the first hundred days of his presidency, more than 1.3 million jobs were created in the economy – this is a record number. “According to the International Monetary Fund, our economy will grow by more than 6% this year. This will be the highest rate of economic growth in this country in almost four decades. America is moving forward, and we cannot stop. We compete with China and other countries. We have to do more than recover. We need to rebuild our country so that it is even better than in the past,” Biden said.
“The government can only make these investments,” Joe Biden continued, “and they continue to push us into the future again and again. That’s why I proposed the American Job Creation Plan – a unique investment in America, the largest job creation plan since World War II.”
“I know some of you are wondering if this job is right for you. You feel abandoned and forgotten in a rapidly changing economy. Let me talk to you directly. Independent experts estimate that the American job creation plan will add millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of economic growth for many years to come. This well-paid job cannot be taken abroad. Almost 90% of the jobs created under the American Employment Plan for Infrastructure Construction do not require higher education,” Joe Biden said.
According to the president, the new package of investments in creating infrastructure and jobs will cost about $ 4 trillion, which is approximately equal to the annual US federal budget. “This is a unique investment, vital to America’s future,” Biden said.
Rich Americans should pay a larger share of taxes
Biden separately focused on how his administration is going to fund America’s development plans. He said he made it clear that the United States could do this “without increasing the budget deficit.”
He promised that the tax increase would not affect people who earn less than 400 thousand dollars a year. According to Biden, it is time for “corporate America and the top 1% of Americans to pay their fair share.”
Last year, for example, the country’s 55 largest corporations paid zero federal income tax and paid no federal taxes on profits exceeding $ 40 billion.
Many companies, Biden noted, evade taxes through offshore havens from Switzerland to Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, “profiting from tax loopholes and deductions that allow jobs to be transferred offshore and profits to be transferred abroad. This doesn’t seem right.”
The Biden administration is going to reform taxation for corporations so that they “pay fairly and help pay for the public investment that their businesses will benefit from,” Biden said.
The top 1% of Americans earning more than $ 400,000 a year will pay up to 39.6% in income tax. It was at this level that taxation used to be. The state is also going to “get rid of loopholes that allow Americans who earn more than $ 1 million a year to pay a lower rate on capital gains than working Americans pay on their salary.”
“This will affect only 0.3 percent of all Americans. Moreover, the IRS will deal with millionaires and billionaires who do not pay taxes. This is estimated at billions of dollars,” the president promised.
“I’m not going to punish anyone. However, I will not add a tax burden on the middle class of this country. They are already paying enough. What I have suggested is fair. It is financially responsible. This increases the revenue to pay for the plans I have proposed, which will create millions of jobs and ensure the growth of the economy,” Biden added.
About China and Russia
The President noted that the proposed investments also play into the hands of US foreign policy, which “benefits the middle class.” According to him, all countries, including China, should play by the same rules in the global economy. “We are all created equal. We cannot get away from this principle,” the head of state stressed.
“As for Russia,” he continued, “I have made it very clear to President Putin that while we are not seeking an escalation, their actions will have consequences. I have responded directly and proportionately to Russia’s interference in our elections and cyberattacks on our government and business. But we can also cooperate when it is in our common interest, as we did when we extended the START 3 nuclear weapons treaty, and as we work to resolve the climate crisis,” Biden said.
Concluding his speech, Biden said that the country has finally found “a new strength and a new determination to… win the competition of the 21st century.” To do this, everyone needs to act as “one country, one America.”
“We are the United States of America. There is nothing that we can’t do if we take it all together,” Joe Biden said.
Lawmakers ‘ reaction
Representatives of the Democratic and Republican parties in Congress reacted to the president’s speech in diametrically opposite ways – while Democrats fully approved of the administration’s actions, Republicans subjected Biden’s proposals to harsh criticism.
Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, said Joe Biden’s proposals enjoy “tremendous bipartisan support from Americans in every corner of the country.”
“From fighting climate change to preventing gun violence, what I heard from the president today was not a divisive agenda, but rather a policy platform that enjoys huge bipartisan support from Americans in every corner of this country. I can only hope that my Republican colleagues have realized that our country can get much more if we work together with each other and not against each other,” Menendez said.
Congressman Tom O’Halleran, co-chairman of the moderate Democrat Blue Dogs coalition, welcomed President Biden’s”focus on investing in our future.” However, he noted the need for cooperation between both parties. Because of which “well-paid jobs will be created, the middle class will be strengthened, and investments will be made in America’s agriculture…
“First of all, we must restore faith in the government. Bills that both houses cannot pass do not get people back to work, don’t help start small businesses, and don’t lower healthcare costs. Americans want results, not rhetoric, and the Blue Dogs are ready to help achieve much-needed results,” the congressman said in a statement.
Raul Ruiz, Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, noted that “President Biden addressed the aspirations of American families directly, expressing a vision of hope and optimism for our future.”
According to another Democrat, Congressman David Cicilline, “this was a speech addressed directly to the American people and to the problems they are facing right now. I now look forward to working with the president, his administration, and my colleagues in Congress to achieve these results for the American people.”
House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy assured that “Republicans will work with anyone to rebuild America, restore our way of life, and renew the American dream.”
However, the Republicans, he said, cannot “allow the United States to follow the path of socialism with a government that decides how much someone is allowed to earn, and the rest is confiscated and handed over to political associates and close associates. We need to get back to the sound economic principles that allowed us to build the best economy in history,” McCarthy said.
Republican Senator Jim Risch noted with regret that Biden did not touch on the topic of the “Nord stream-2” gas pipeline in his speech.
“This Russian pipeline, which the president seems unwilling to close, poses a serious threat to our national security and the security of our allies in Europe. Congress has acted repeatedly… to encourage the administration to act quickly to prevent the completion of this Russian project. Time is running out,” Risch said.
Senator Jim Inhofe expressed concern that Biden did not pay enough attention to investing in the armed forces so that the United States could compete with China and Russia. “The Biden team says the right words about China and Russia but does nothing to support it… This speech was not about unity or making a policy for all Americans. It was a traditional democratic speech with a progressive and environmental bias,” Inhofe said.