Biden Highlights Ambitious Agenda During 100-Days Address
As President Biden comes upon his 100-days in office, we take on the historical tradition of evaluating the administration’s progress thus far. Like others before him, Biden has had his fair share of successes and failures followed by praise and criticism.
Most notably, many have been surprised by Biden’s proactivity and aggressive approach regarding progressive issues. Few expected the new president to push for an abundance of transformative measures that significantly impact the government’s role and influence.
“One thing that I will say is that I do think that the Biden administration and President Biden have exceeded expectations that progressives had,” said Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “I’ll be frank: I think a lot of us expected a lot more conservative administration.”
While progressives may be impressed, many Republicans and Centrists condemn Biden’s wholehearted embrace of the liberal agenda. Like fellow Democratic nominees before him, Biden campaigned with a comparatively bipartisan platform, leading critics to accuse him of misrepresentation.
“If I look at the 100 days, it’s more like a bait and switch,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “The bait was he was going to govern as bipartisan, but the switch is he’s governed as a socialist.”
BIDEN ADDRESSES NATION AND LEGISLATURES, PROMOTING AMERICAN JOBS PLAN
President Biden made his first address to a joint session of Congress on April 28 at 9 p.m. EST. The speech highlighted the administration’s achievements to date, focusing on the American Rescue Plan and pandemic response.
“Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again,” said Biden. “Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.”
The administration’s handling of the pandemic has been met with support from Democrats and Republicans alike, with an approval rating of 65 percent. COVID-19 cases are down by 73 percent, and vaccination numbers have far exceeded Biden’s initial goal of 100 million shots in 100 days.
Following, the president relayed details of his next high-profile proposal. According to Biden, the American Jobs Plan is the largest job plan since World War II. The plan aims to help millions of Americans get back to their jobs while also creating new ones rooted in improving America’s infrastructure.
“The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America,” said Biden. “[A]ll the investments in the American Jobs Plan will be guided by one principle: ‘Buy American.’ American tax dollars are going to be used to buy American products made in America that create American jobs. The way it should be.”
Part of Biden’s strategy to fund the American Jobs Plan relies on raising taxes. However, the president assured that low-income families would not be affected. “I will not impose any tax increases on people making less than $400,000,” said Biden. “It’s time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1% of Americans to pay their fair share.”
In line with previous declarations, Biden called for an increase in the minimum wage to $15, saying, “No one should work 40 hours a week and still live below the poverty line.” The president also proclaimed that healthcare should be a right, not a privilege.
Among other subjects, Biden expressed support for protecting the right to vote, lower prescription drug costs, and reduce gun violence through federal legislation.
IMMIGRATION REMAINS A PROMINENT CONCERN
Immigration policy and border control are easily the most contentious issues of the new administration’s record. With a 37 percent approval rating, Biden’s response to the border situation has been far from ideal.
The president’s speech touched lightly on the problems at hand, calling for measures that protect immigrant workers and dreamers.
“For more than 30 years, politicians have talked about immigration reform and done nothing about it. It’s time to fix it,” said Biden. “If you believe we need a secure border – pass it. If you believe in a pathway to citizenship – pass it. If you actually want to solve the problem – I have sent you a bill, now pass it.”
As a glaring stain on an otherwise relatively clean record, the new administration has fallen short of expectations, and the border situation remains critical.
Biden mentioned fixing the root of immigration issues, specifically why immigrants flee from their countries but did not explicitly mention how such a feat would be accomplished. Rather, he announced that previous programs would be restored and Vice President Kamala Harris will be leading the diplomatic efforts.
BIDEN INTRODUCES NEW AMERICAN FAMILIES PLAN
A prominent feature of Biden’s speech included introducing a new plan to invest in the future through the nation’s children. According to Biden, the rest of the world is catching up, and adequate education is crucial to America’s ability to remain ahead of the curve.
The American Families Plan focuses on four guiding principles: access to good education, affordable child care, additional paid family and medical leave, and expanded tax credits for families. The plan guarantees four additional years of public education, including two years of high-quality universal preschool and two years of free community college.
BIDEN’S “GO BIG OR GO HOME” APPROACH: ADMIRABLE OR CONCERNING?
With 42 executive orders made and 62 Trump-era measures reversed, Biden has been anything but inactive. Among his more ambitious objectives, the president promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than half by 2030.
Measures to support that goal can be found in Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan. The American Jobs Plan invests heavily in electric vehicles and clean energy as an avenue for economic support and job employment. “For me, when I think climate change, I think jobs,” Biden said.
However, some elements of the plan have raised some eyebrows, leaving supporters and critics alike wondering if the high amounts of government spending is an overreach. The measure proposes significant tax changes to raise money and pay for investments outlined in the infrastructure plan.
“The way I see it, the biggest risk is not going too big,” Biden said. “It’s if we go too small.”
Despite overspending concerns, many deem it a necessary expense, and the bill has received bipartisan support, though not nearly as strong as for the COVID-19 relief bill.
BIDEN CALLS ON BIPARTISAN COOPERATION
Throughout his speech, the president painted a vivid image of the fight for American democracy. According to Biden, other countries believe that democracy can’t contend with autocracies. He said, “We have to prove democracy still works. That our government still works and can deliver for the people.”
Along with numerous calls to action primarily aimed at Congress, Biden expressed urgency for legislation. He said, “The rest of the world isn’t waiting for us. Doing nothing is not an option.”
The president spoke strongly to bipartisan issues, specifically highlighting key components supported by both Democrats and Republicans. Biden acknowledged the differences between party values but emphasized the importance of taking action to enact change. He said, “Let’s argue over it, let’s debate it, but let’s act.”
Biden ended the address with a rallying cry for the democratic agenda.
“It’s never ever been a good bet to bet against America and it still isn’t. We can do whatever we set our minds to if we do it together.”
Watch the full video transcript below.