Washington: President Joe Biden declared “America is ready for a takeoff” as he pitched a sweeping vision for greater government investment to boost the economy Wednesday, including a $1.8 trillion proposal for new spending on child care, education and paid leave.
Addressing a joint session of Congress for the first time as President, Mr. Biden sought to strike a hopeful tone, stressing his efforts to combat the pandemic, expand Covid-19 vaccinations—which he urged all Americans to get—and spur economic growth.
Biden said that 100 days since he took office and inherited the worst pandemic in a century and the worst economic crisis in a decade, America is on the move again, turning peril into possibility, crisis into opportunity and setback into strength.
“America is rising anew, choosing hope over fear, truth over lies, and light over darkness. After 100 days of rescue and renewal, America is ready for a take-off. We are working again, dreaming again, discovering again and leading the world again. We have shown each other and the world that there is no quit in America,” Biden said.
Mr. Biden promoted his economic plans to the public, including his new American Families Plan, which is paid for largely by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and his $2.3 trillion infrastructure package that includes new spending on bridges, roads and broadband internet. He cast the massive spending proposals as necessary to help the nation’s economy and workers.
Referring to the family policies, Mr. Biden said it was time to make a “once in a generation investment in our families and our children.”
Mr. Biden made his case that the federal investments he’s calling on Congress to pass are necessary to compete with autocratic countries like China. He pushed for funding to expand broadband, update infrastructure for drinking water and modernize the energy grid as part of the administration’s proposed American Jobs Plan, which he described as the “blue-collar blueprint to build America.”
“These are investments we made together as one country, and investments that only the government was in a position to make,” he said. “Time and again, they propel us into the future.”
Mr. Biden said Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders believe democracies are too slow to compete with them. “The rest of the world isn’t waiting for us…. Doing nothing is not an option,” he said.
“In my conversations with world leaders – many I’ve known for a long time – the comment I hear most often is: we see that America is back – but for how long?” Biden said in his prime-time address.
“We have to show not just that we are back, but that we are here to stay. And that we aren’t going it alone – we’re going to be leading with our allies. No one nation can deal with all the crises of our time alone – from terrorism to nuclear proliferation to mass migration, cybersecurity, climate change – and as we’re experiencing now, pandemics,” he said.
Biden touted the success of his administration’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and urged everyone to get vaccinated against the deadly disease that has claimed over 574,000 lives in the country.
“Go get vaccinated, America. They are available,” Biden said.
Biden also said that the climate crisis is not America’s fight alone, but a global one as he asserted that he pushed for the US to meet its international obligations to slow the impact of climate change.
He said that the US accounts for less than 15 per cent of carbon emissions while the rest of the world accounts for 85 per cent. “That’s why – I kept my commitment to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement on my first day in office,” he said.