Biden is betting big with plans to remake America. Here are 6 takeaways from Biden’s speech.

  • President Joe Biden delivered his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night.
  • Biden called for an ambitious pandemic economic recovery plan focused on jobs, infrastructure, and childcare.
  • He also called for changes to immigration and foreign policy and asked the Senate to pass civil rights legislation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden delivered his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, on the eve of his 100th day in office.

In his address before a pared-down audience due to the pandemic, Biden called for an ambitious pandemic economic recovery plan focused on jobs, infrastructure, childcare, and education. The proposals are some of the most progressive in decades – and ones unlikely to garner Republican support, as evidenced by GOP reactions in the chamber and on Twitter.

He also called for changes to immigration and foreign policy and asked the Senate to pass signature civil rights legislation – including police reform and voting rights legislation.

Here are the biggest takeaways from the speech.

Biden is betting big with his spending plans

Biden detailed an ambitious $4 trillion spending program focused on overhauling the American economy and recasting the role of government to better secure the welfare of families.

He’s fresh off the passage of a $1.9 trillion stimulus law in March, a measure broadly popular with American voters in part due to the $1,400 direct payments. He touted the federal checks and said the law contributed to a fall in hunger.

Biden quickly pivoted to his latest pair of economic plans, one to upgrade physical infrastructure and the other meant to level the playing field for middle and low-income families. The latest is a $1.8 trillion economic plan aimed at setting up sweeping new federal programs in education, childcare, and healthcare.

“These are the investments we make together, as one country, and that only government can make,” Biden said. “Time and again, they propel us into the future.”

Republicans are very unlikely to support the newest “American Families Plan” proposal. “There are individual components that conservatives might be more supportive, but the full $2 trillion package financed by big new taxes is absolutely a non-starter for Republicans,” Brian Riedl, a budget expert at the right-leaning Manhattan Institute, said.

The president also called on Congress to move on healthcare reform and raising the minimum wage

Biden urged Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, which hasn’t budged since 2009. “No one should work 40 hours a week and still live below the poverty line,” he said.

Democrats are united on raising the minimum wage but sharply disagree on the amount. Some like Sen. Bernie Sanders are pushing $15 an hour minimum wage, but others like Sen. Joe Manchin support a lower amount.

Biden also called lawmakers to step in and lower prescription drug costs, an initiative reportedly scrapped from his economic package.

“Let’s do what we’ve always talked about,” the president said. “Let’s give Medicare the power to save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating lower prices for prescription drugs. ”

Instead, he’s proposed extending health insurance subsidies for the Affordable Care Act as part of his spending programs.

He also threw his support behind the PRO Act, a bill designed to make it easier for workers to unionize. It has stalled in the Senate, unable to cross the 60-vote threshold known as the filibuster.

Biden talks immigration – but not the border

Biden also again called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, stressing the need to provide a pathway to legal status for millions of undocumented people in the United States – stressing that this was a bipartisan goal.

“Let’s end our exhausting war over immigration,” he said. “For more than 30 years, politicians have talked about immigration reform and done nothing about it. It’s time to fix it.”

The day he took office, Biden unveiled a proposal that would grant permanent residency to many migrant farm workers and citizenship for those who came to the US as children. On Wednesday, Biden said Congress should work to make those specific provisions law right away, acknowledging the difficulty of passing more robust reform in a 50-50 Senate.

“Congress needs to pass legislation this year to finally secure protection for the Dreamers – the young people who have only known America as their home,” he said. He also called for legislation to grant “permanent protections for immigrants on temporary protected status” and a process for granting citizenship to “farmworkers who put food on our tables.”

Biden did not, however, speak to the current status of US borders, which remain shuttered to all but unaccompanied minors – a recent influx of whom overwhelmed authorities, who have since scrambled to convert hotels and convention centers into holding facilities. The Biden administration continues to expel other asylum-seekers fleeing poverty and violence in the Americas, citing the pandemic and the need to rebuild a processing system decimated by the last White House.

Biden laid out a foreign policy plan that differs from the Trump doctrine

During his address, Biden’s focus on foreign policy centered mainly around strengthening the US’ relationship with allies and forging working but stern relations with Russia and China.

Biden said that in approaching foreign policy, his administration would operate on the belief that, “America is the most unique idea in history.”

In a contrast to Trump, Biden directly charged Russia for interference in the 2016 elections as well as the recent SolarWinds cyberattacks which breached government and private business systems.

The President added that in conversations with his Russian counterpart, he has “made clear,” to Vladimir Putin that the US will not seek escalation, but Russia’s, “actions will have consequences.” Biden added that the US and Russian should cooperate when interests are aligned.

Biden added that he had held hours-long conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping and put forth a similar balance. The President also singled out Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs, describing them as threats, but committed to working with allies and both nations through “diplomacy and stern deterrence.”

He also spoke about his promise to end the “forever war in Afghanistan,” acknowledging and justifying the US’ long footprint in the country. Saying that the US fulfilled their promise to bring Osama Bin Laden to the “gates of hell,” and that soldiers are serving in “the same war zone as their parents,” he said it’s time to bring troops home.

Biden addressed gun control policy and urged congressional action against gun violence in the US

During his address to Congress, the president called gun violence an “epidemic in America,” mentioning how the flag at the White House flew half-staff to mourn the lives lost at the Atlanta-area shootings and mass shooting in Colorado.

“In the week between those mass shootings, more than 250 other Americans were shot dead. 250 shot dead,” Biden said.

He touted his executive actions on guns following those tragedies but called for the Senate to act.

Biden called upon Senate Republicans to join Democratic members of Congress to “close loopholes and require background checks to purchase a gun” – such as the “boyfriend” loophole, which refers to a gap in gun legislation that allows partners convicted of domestic violence to purchase a firearm if their partner was not a spouse, didn’t have children with them, or live with them at any point.”

I will do everything in my power to protect the American people from this epidemic of gun violence,” he said. “But it’s time for Congress to act as well.”

The president called on the Senate to pass two pieces of civil rights legislation

Biden recalled meeting Gianna Floyd, the daughter of George Floyd, during her father’s funeral last year, saying how she was right in saying her father “changed the world” in light of the guilty verdict of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in Floyd’s killing.

While he recognized that “most men and women in uniform wear their badge and serve their communities honorably,” the president urged Americans to come together to “rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve” and “root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system.”

He urged lawmakers to pass the police reform bill named after Floyd by the first anniversary of Floyd’s death on May 25.

The president also cajoled the Senate to pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, which has already passed in the House.

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The 4 major takeaways from Biden’s $1.8 trillion economic spending package

Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • Biden unveiled a new spending plan focused on families with new spending on childcare and education.
  • It aims to flood federal money into sectors of the economy and make the lives of families easier.
  • The plan likely won’t attract much Republican support – if any.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden is aiming to unleash a flood of new federal spending to cut into inequality and realign the role of the federal government to better assist families.

The second plan is different from the first measure, which was largely focused on physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges, although it also included other provisions like major funding for in-home elder care and broadband expansion.

This plan from the White House includes around $1 trillion in new spending and $800 billion set aside as tax credits. It’s likely to undergo some changes, however, as Congress takes it up and writes the legislation in the coming months.

Here are the four key takeaways from the administration’s latest plan.

(1) Flooding new money into education and childcare

The plan would parcel out money for childcare, education, and healthcare initiatives. Experts say many parts of the plan are geared toward assisting middle and low-income families, especially those with kids.

“Almost everything in the plan would directly benefit people, particularly children, particularly lower-income children,” Jason Furman, a former top economist to President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter. “You can’t go very wrong with these policies.”

It essentially guarantees an additional four years of education for Americans with a universal pre-K and two years of tuition-free community college. Those two measures come out to around $309 billion, largely contingent on a partnership between the federal government and states.

It also tackles the rising costs of childcare, which is often beyond the reach of many families. Most have to pay the majority of those care expenses on their own. The Biden plan aims to keep a family’s childcare spending at no more than 7% of monthly income.

(2) Biden wants the wealthiest Americans to pay up with tax hikes

The package includes tax hikes on the richest Americans. A central element in the administration’s revenue plans appears to be $80 billion set aside for the IRS to crack down on tax evasion. The White House projects raising $700 billion from the agency over a decade.

As reported by Insider’s Ayelet Sheffey, that would represent a huge jump over current collections, but still leave hundreds of billions on the table very year. It would also only partially reverse a dramatic decline in IRS audits over the past decade.

Biden also wants to raise the top marginal income-tax rate to 39.6% from 37% and hit investors earning above $1 million with a new tax on capital gains, among other things.

(3) Permanently maintaining some emergency stimulus programs

The plan includes a permanent extension of subsidies for people to buy health insurance from exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act. It would also make permanent the Earned Income Tax Credit, a step to benefit essential workers like

The administration is likely to face pressure from Democrats to keep the boosted child tax credit. It was enlarged to $3,600-per-child under age 6 and $3,000 per kid between 6 and 17. Starting in July, parents will be able to get a monthly payment.

The current plan only extends the elevated levels until 2025, while leaving untouched the monthly payment component. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a lead architect of the expansion and chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement to Insider that lawmakers would take up the Biden blueprint and advocate for changes.

“I look forward to turning the framework of the American Families Plan into legislation and working with Chairman Neal to enact our shared desire to include a permanent extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit in the final bill,” she said, referring to Rep. Richard Neal, chair of the House Ways and Means panel.

(4) The ‘families plan’ is unlikely to attract GOP support

Republicans were largely opposed to Biden’s first infrastructure plan, arguing it went beyond the scope of physical infrastructure spending that they could back. Some lawmakers, however, favor a slimmed-down spending plan, and negotiations are ongoing.

The GOP appears likely to resist the newest plan on the basis of its tax hikes and spending priorities.

“Even if the spending’s popular -a lot of it probably will be – the tax increases I think are going to be a hard sell, not just with people in the country or with Republicans, but I think for some Democrats too,” Sen. John Thune told reporters on Wednesday.

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