Biden Economic Agenda Addresses Systemic Racism, Concern for Black Lives
Proposes $1.8 trillion in new spending on child-care, education and paid leave;
Is also pushing for $2.3 trillion infrastructure package
As I stand here tonight — just one day shy of the 100th day of my administration.
100 days since I took the oath of office, lifted my hand off our family Bible, and inherited a nation in crisis.
The worst pandemic in a century.
The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.
Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation: America is on the move again.
“Together — we passed the American Rescue Plan.
One of the most consequential rescue packages in American history.
We’re already seeing the results.
After I promised 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots in 100 days – we will have provided over 220 million COVID shots in 100 days.
“When I was sworn in, less than 1% of seniors were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
100 days later, nearly 70% of seniors are fully protected.
Senior deaths from COVID-19 are down 80% since January. Down 80%.
And, more than half of all adults in America have gotten at least one shot.
“We’re in a competition with China and other countries to win the 21st Century.
We have to do more than just build back. We have to build back better.
Throughout our history, public investments and infrastructure have transformed America.
The transcontinental railroad and interstate highways united two oceans and brought us into a totally new age of progress.
Universal public school and college aid opened wide the doors of opportunity.
Scientific breakthroughs took us to the Moon and now to Mars, discovered vaccines, and gave us the Internet and so much more.
These are the investments we make together, as one country, and that only government can make.
Time and again, they propel us into the future.
That’s why I proposed The American Jobs Plan — a once-in-a-generation investment in America itself.
The largest jobs plan since World War II.
It creates jobs to upgrade our transportation infrastructure. Jobs modernizing roads, bridges and highways. Jobs building ports and airports, rail corridors and transit lines. It’s clean water.
Today, up to 10 million homes and more than 400,000 schools and child care centers have pipes with lead in them, including for drinking water.
A clear and present danger to our children’s health.
The American Jobs Plan creates jobs replacing 100% of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines so every American, so every child – can turn on the faucet and be certain to drink clean water.
It creates jobs connecting every American with high-speed internet, including 35% of rural Americans who still don’t have it.
This will help our kids and businesses succeed in a 21st Century economy.
And I am asking the Vice President to help lead this effort.
It creates jobs by building a modern power grid.
“Independent experts estimate the American Jobs Plan will add millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in economic growth for years to come.
These are good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced.
Nearly 90% of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan do not require a college degree.
75% do not require an associate’s degree.
The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America.
And, it recognizes something I’ve always said.
Wall Street didn’t build this country. The middle class built this country. And unions build the middle class.
And that’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act – the PRO Act — and send it to my desk to support the right to unionize.
By the way – let’s also pass the $15 minimum wage.
No one should work 40 hours a week and still live below the poverty line.
We can’t be so busy competing with each other that we forget the competition is with the rest of the world to win the 21st Century.
To win that competition for the future, we also need to make a once-in-a-generation investment in our families – in our children.
That’s why I’m introducing the American Families Plan tonight, which addresses four of the biggest challenges facing American families today.
First, access to a good education.
When this nation made 12 years of public education universal in the last century, it made us the best-educated and best-prepared nation in the world.
But the world is catching up. They are not waiting.
12 years is no longer enough today to compete in the 21st Century.
That’s why the American Families Plan guarantees four additional years of public education for every person in America – starting as early as we can.
We add two years of universal high-quality pre-school for every 3- and 4- year-old in America.
The research shows that when a young child goes to school—not day care—they are far more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college.
And then we add two years of free community college.
And we will increase Pell Grants and investment in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal colleges, and minority-serving institutions.
“Second, the American Families plan will provide access to quality, affordable child care.
We guarantee that low- to middle-income families will pay no more than 7% of their income for high-quality care for children up to the age of 5.
The most hard-pressed working families won’t have to spend a dime.
Third, the American Families Plan will finally provide up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave.
No one should have to choose between a job and paycheck or taking care of themselves and a loved one – a parent, spouse, or child.
And fourth, the American Families Plan puts money directly into the pockets of millions of families.
In March we expanded a tax credit for every child in a family.
Up to a $3,000 Child Tax Credit for children over 6 — and $3,600 for children under 6.
With two parents, two kids, that’s up to $7,200 in your pocket to help take care of your family.
This will help more than 65 million children and help cut child poverty in half this year.
Together, let’s extend the Child Tax Credit at least through the end of 2025.
“I will not impose any tax increases on people making less than $400,000 a year.
It’s time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1% of Americans to pay their fair share.
Just pay their fair share.
A recent study shows that 55 of the nation’s biggest corporations paid zero in federal income tax last year.
No federal taxes on more than $40 billion in profits.
A lot of companies evade taxes through tax havens from Switzerland to Bermuda to the Cayman Islands.
And they benefit from tax loopholes and deductions that allow for offshoring jobs and shifting profits overseas.
That’s not right.
We’re going to reform corporate taxes so they pay their fair share – and help pay for the public investments their businesses will benefit from.
And, we’re going to reward work, not wealth.
We take the top tax bracket for the wealthiest 1% of Americans –
those making $400,000 or more – back up to 39.6%.
We take the top tax bracket for the wealthiest 1% of Americans – those making $400,000 or more – back up to 39.6%.
That’s where it was when George W. Bush became president.
We’re going to get rid of the loopholes that allow Americans who make more than $1 million a year pay a lower rate on their capital gains than working Americans pay on their work.
This will only affect three tenths of 1% of all Americans.
And the IRS will crack down on millionaires and billionaires who cheat on their taxes.
That’s estimated to be billions of dollars.
Look, I’m not out to punish anyone.
But I will not add to the tax burden of the middle class of this country.
They’re already paying enough.
What I’ve proposed is fair. It’s fiscally responsible.
“I’ve often said that our greatest strength is the power of our example – not just the example of our power.
And 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?
My fellow Americans, 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.
There’s no wall high enough to keep any virus away.
As our own vaccine supply grows to meet our needs – and we are meeting them – we will become an arsenal of vaccines for other countries – just as America was the arsenal of democracy in World War 2.
The climate crisis is not our fight alone, either.
It’s a global fight.
“And American leadership means ending the forever war in Afghanistan.
We have the greatest fighting force in the history of the world.
And I’m the first President in 40 years who knows what it means to have had a child serving in a warzone.
Today we have service members serving in the same war as their parents once did.
We have service members in Afghanistan who were not yet born on 9/11.
War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multi—generational undertaking of nation—building.
We went to Afghanistan to get the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.
We delivered justice to Osama Bin Laden and we degraded the terrorist threat of al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
After 20 years of American valor and sacrifice, it’s time to bring our troops home.
Even as we do, we will maintain an over—the—horizon capability to suppress future threats to the homeland.
But make no mistake – the terrorist threat has evolved beyond Afghanistan since 2001 and we will remain vigilant against threats to the United States, wherever they come from.
Al Qaeda and ISIS are in Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and other places in Africa and the Middle East and beyond.
And, 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.
And my fellow Americans, we must come together to heal the soul of this nation.
It was nearly a year ago before her father’s funeral, when I spoke with Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s young daughter.
As I knelt down to talk to her so we could talk eye—to—eye, she said to me, “Daddy changed the world.”
After the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer, we can see how right she was – if we have the courage to act.
We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black America.
Now is our opportunity to make real progress.
Most men and women in uniform wear their badge and serve their communities honorably.
I know them. I know they want to help meet this moment as well.
My fellow Americans, we have to come together.
To rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve.
To root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system.
And to enact police reform in George Floyd’s name that passed the House already.
I know the Republicans have their own ideas and are engaged in productive discussions with Democrats.
We need to work together to find a consensus.
Let’s get it done next month, by the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death.
The country supports this reform.
Congress should act.
We have a giant opportunity to bend to the arc of the moral universe toward justice.
And with the plans I outlined tonight, we have a real chance to root out systemic racism that plagues American life in many other ways.
A chance to deliver real equity.
Good jobs and good schools. Affordable housing. Clean air and clean water.
Being able to generate wealth and pass it down through generations.
Real opportunities in the lives of more Americans – Black, white, Latino, Asian American, Native American.
I also want to thank the Senate for voting 94—1 to pass the COVID—19 Hate Crimes Act to protect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from the vicious hate crimes we’ve seen this past year – and for too long.
I urge the House to do the same and send that legislation to my desk as soon as possible.
I also hope Congress can get to my desk the Equality Act to protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans.
To all the transgender Americans watching at home – especially the young people who are so brave – I want you to know that your president has your back.
And another thing.
Let’s reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which has been law in this country for 27 years since I first wrote it.
It will close the so—called “boyfriend” loophole to keep guns out of the hands of abusers.
It’s estimated that more than 50 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner – every month in America.
Pass it and save lives.
“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.
And, permanent protections for immigrants on temporary protected status who come from countries beset by man—made and natural made violence and disaster.
As well as a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers who put food on our tables.
Immigrants have done so much for America during the pandemic – as they have throughout our history.
The country supports immigration reform.
Congress should act.
And if we are to truly restore the soul of America – we need to protect the sacred right to vote.
More people voted in the last presidential election than ever before
in our history – in the middle of one of the worst pandemics ever.
That should be celebrated. Instead it’s being attacked.
Congress should pass H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and send them to my desk right away.
The country supports it.
Congress should act.
As we gather here tonight, the images of a violent mob assaulting this Capitol—desecrating our democracy—remain vivid in our minds.
Lives were put at risk. Lives were lost. Extraordinary courage was summoned.
The insurrection was an existential crisis—a test of whether our democracy could survive.
But the struggle is far from over. The question of whether our democracy will long endure is both ancient and urgent.
As old as our Republic. Still vital today.
Can our democracy deliver on its promise that all of us – created equal in the image of God – have a chance to lead lives of dignity, respect, and possibility?
Can our democracy deliver on the most pressing needs of our people?
Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate and fears that have pulled us apart?
America’s adversaries – the autocrats of the world – are betting it can’t.
They believe we are too full of anger and division and rage.
They look at the images of the mob that assaulted this Capitol as proof that the sun is setting on American democracy.
They are wrong. And we have to prove them wrong.
We have to prove democracy still works.
That our government still works – and can deliver for the people.
In our first 100 Days together, we have acted to restore the people’s faith in our democracy to deliver.
We’re vaccinating the nation. We’re creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. We’re delivering real results people can see and feel in their own lives.
Opening the doors of opportunity. Guaranteeing fairness and justice.
That’s the essence of America.
That’s democracy in action.
Our Constitution opens with the words, “We the People”.
It’s time we remembered that We the People are the government. You and I.
Not some force in a distant capital. Not some powerful force we have no control over.
It’s us. It’s “We the people.”
In another era when our democracy was tested, Franklin Roosevelt reminded us—In America: we do our part.
That’s all I’m asking. That we all do our part.
“There is nothing – nothing – beyond our capacity – nothing we can’t do – if we do it together.
May God bless you all.
May God protect our troops.