By Aaron Miller-
U.S President Joe Biden has announced sweeping investments plan for jobs, education and social care in his first speech to a joint session of Congress.
Delivered on the eve of his 100th day in office, the Democrat pitched some $4 trillion (£2.9tn) in spending – the largest overhaul of US benefits since the 1960s, analysts say.
Biden called it a “once in a generation investment in America itself”, but the plans face a battle in Congress before they can become law.
There has been widespread opposition to the proposals from the Republican Party, which is unlikely to back tax increases and more government spending.
The Democratic party is split in both houses, over how far to go with the plans.
In a historic moment, U.S Vice-President Kamala Harris – the first woman to hold that office – and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi both sat behind Mr Biden during Wednesday night’s address. It was the first time two women appeared behind the president during a speech to Congress.
After addressing Ms Harris in his opening remarks as Madam Vice-President, Mr Biden added: “No president has ever said those words from this podium. And it’s about time.”
The 78-year-old president, is one of the most approved presidents in recent times .He presented the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan. The White House said the proposals would be funded by tax raises on corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
“It’s time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1%… to pay their fair share,” Mr Biden said at an event that was scaled back due to the pandemic.
He described the American Jobs Plan as “a blue-collar blueprint to build America” that would boost investment in public transport, high-speed broadband and roads and bridges. He added that the plan would be guided by the fight against climate change.
“When I think climate change I think jobs,” he said. “There’s no reason why American workers can’t lead the world in the production of electric vehicles and batteries.”
The involvement involves an extension of key tax breaks that have been expanded during the pandemic.
American Rescue Plan
The proposal follows the so-called American Rescue Plan, a $1.9tn coronavirus stimulus package that included direct cheques to most Americans, which Mr Biden signed into law last month.
On Wednesday, he framed these latest proposals in the context of foreign policy and said the US was “in a competition with China and other countries to win the 21st century”. He also called for politicians from both parties to back his plans and said he was willing to work with both sides.
The U.S government is considered to be accelerating a return to normal life in the months ahead. He boasted of hundreds of thousands of new jobs created in his first 100 days and a growing economy. He touted recently passed funding that will help cut child poverty in the US in half.
President Biden proposed a trillion-dollar package of universal pre-kindergarten, two years of free college education, family leave and childcare funding. He called for legislation on gun control, immigration, criminal justice reform and voting rights.
He concluded, however, by turning to the 6 January attack on the US Capitol and the threat posed to democracy by the world’s autocratic nations.
“In his inaugural address, Biden called for unity. That was a lie, and our nation is worse-off and more divided thanks to Joe Biden,” her statement read.
The top Republican in the House, Kevin McCarthy, was more concise. “This whole thing could have just been an email,” he wrote on Twitter.
Biden talks to congress Image: PA
He said the proposals would “lower wages of the average American worker” and dismissed them as a “liberal wish list of big government waste”.
Mr Scott then discussed racism in America, accusing Democrats of wanting “the issue more than they want the solution”.
“America is not a racist country. It’s backwards to fight discrimination with different types of discrimination and it’s wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly shut down debates in the present,” he said.
Mr Biden began his address to Congress with a not-so-subtle dig at his predecessor, Donald Trump.Mr Biden said he “inherited a nation in crisis” – describing America as a “house on fire”.
“Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again,” he said, adding that America never stays down.
“America is rising anew. Choosing hope over fear. Truth over lies. Light over darkness. After 100 days of rescue and renewal, America is ready for take off. We are working again. Dreaming again. Discovering again. Leading the world again.”
Mr Biden referred in his address to Mr Floyd’s murder at the hands of an officer, saying: “We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black America.”
“We won’t ignore what our own intelligence agencies have determined – the most lethal terrorist threat to the homeland today is from white supremacist terrorism.”