Biden’s Speech to Congress: Last night, President Joe Biden delivered his first joint address to Congress. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore.
Top Story: Biden’s Speech to Congress
Last night, President Joe Biden delivered his first joint address to Congress. It was “the 98th in-person address to Congress from a United States president — on the 98th day of his administration,” Aaron Kall noted in The Hill. While that’s a fun little factoid, there seems to be some disagreement on which exact date mark’s Biden’s 100th day in office. Some outlets, and the President himself, think it’s today. Others think it’s tomorrow. According to this day counter tool, Friday, April 30th is Biden’s 100th day if you don’t include the end date. Speaking of numbers, Biden used the speech to pitch a $1.8 trillion plan that would increase access to education — specifically preschool and community college — as well as expand child care and health benefits. The Associated Press called the proposal, the “American Families Plan,” an “investment” that “would fundamentally transform the role government plays in American life.” USA Today said it “would be a dramatic federal expansion of the social safety net for families and children.” Those are two center-leaning sources according to Allsides’ media bias chart. Here’s how outlets on the right and left reacted to Biden’s speech and spending proposal, starting with simple news coverage from Fox and CNN:
On The Right
Despite his promises to reunify a divided country, Republicans see Biden pushing a far-left agenda and expanding the role of the Federal government. They believe Biden can do this because he inherited a successful vaccination program and recovering economy from the previous administration.
In news coverage from Fox News, Edmund DeMarche describes Biden’s newest proposal as “an effort to build on the American Rescue Plan, which was the $1.9 trillion behemoth passed in March.” Specifics include “at least four years of free, public education for every child, universal ‘high-quality preschool’ to all children between the ages of 3 and 4,” and “two years of free community college…to all Americans.” In regards to Biden’s potential tax increases, DeMarche quotes Larry Kudlow, the former Trump economic adviser, and FOX Business host, who said that “this is redistribution, [and an] assault on investment.” Kudlow added that “the progressive left won Biden’s heart, absolutely.”
Meanwhile, in a preemptive Fox News opinion piece, Sen. Ted Cruz said, “Let me sum up Biden’s speech in three words: boring, but radical.” Cruz titled his take: “…here’s the truth you won’t hear from the president” during his speech. The Senator focused first on immigration accusing the Biden administration of creating the border crisis when it halted “construction of the border wall, reinstated the failed catch and release policy, and ended the very successful Remain in Mexico policy that President Trump negotiated with the government of Mexico.” Cruz also blames Biden for re-joining a flawed Paris climate agreement, which he says will destroy “thousands of manufacturing jobs” and cede “control of our energy future to other countries.” Add in potential Supreme Court reforms and undermining the 2nd Amendment and Cruz says it’s clear “President Biden is beholden to the far left of his party.”
Lastly, the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board took issue with Biden’s lack of humility, pointing to Operation Warp Speed as having “teed up the end of the pandemic and an economic revival” which the president inherited and is now leveraging for political gain. They write that when Biden took office, “The main job of the Administration was to accelerate the [vaccine] distribution that was already underway.” With these fortunate tailwinds, the editors believe Biden should be “fulfilling his campaign pledge to unify the country and govern in a bipartisan fashion,” but he has instead “sought to govern from the left, pressing the most progressive domestic agenda in decades.” Democrats, they write, “have passed the easy part of their program—handing out money and sloganeering about justice.” Now, “As the practical reality of wokism and economic ‘transformation’ make their way into everyone’s lives, Americans may decide this is more ideology than they thought they were getting as the price of being rid of Donald Trump.”
Republicans weren’t thrilled with Biden’s speech, which was to be expected. The general consensus is that the President is catering to the left-wing of the Democratic party, neglecting his campaign promise to unite the country.
On The Left
Conversely, the left applauded the President’s first address. They agree with his ambitious spending goals and consider this a historic opportunity to usher in an era of big government.
Let’s start with the news team at CNN where a trio of journalists highlighted how Biden plans to finance his proposed “$1.8 trillion federal investment in education, child care, and paid family leave” by “hiking taxes on the rich.” They remind readers that Biden’s latest family-focused plan follows his infrastructure package, which “would also provide a boost to manufacturing.” Still, they note that “his ambitious infrastructure and families proposals” have “irked some moderate Democrats with the size of the packages and the tax increases.” That being said, the writers forecast a more difficult time passing this legislation through Congress than the COVID-19 bill.
Meanwhile, out west, Doyle McManus writes in the Los Angeles Times that Joe Biden made “the case for the first time in decades that government spending must be sharply expanded to meet the nation’s needs.” If Congress approves Biden’s proposed spending, he states “the total will approach $6 trillion” with the “underlying aim” of “reversing the Reagan Revolution” and “make big government popular again.” McManus acknowledges that “Some of those programs could run into problems, as Obama’s healthcare plan did in its early months,” or perhaps even “spur inflation.” However, he says these spending programs may in fact “take root and survive” akin to Social Security, Medicare, and Obamacare. Considering the long view, McManus says Americans may look back at this speech “decades from now as marking a hinge point in history.”
Lastly, in Vox, Ella Nilsen observes that Biden’s “theory of policy so far is to go big.” To sell his plan, she writes, he is revising the common definition of “infrastructure,” which typically “calls to mind images of white men in hard hats.” Rather, the “infrastructure” pushed now reflects “working mothers, home health aides who care for the nation’s elderly, and workers of color across the nation.” Pollsters tell Nilson that “‘infrastructure’ is a nebulous concept to many voters,” and so, the Biden administration is seeking to “[build] a public case that infrastructure accounts for a lot more than roads and bridges.” After all, she notes, “Voters seem to care more about things that directly impact their lives than they do about whether these things meet a strict definition of ‘infrastructure,” like jobs, and that “Biden’s massive plan…is jobs creation on steroids.”
Democrats are excited to get started on the political work necessary to push President Biden’s spending proposals through.
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According to Kevin Breuninger of CNBC, “Americans support Biden’s spending and want him to spend more.” For example, “A Monmouth University poll published Monday found that nearly two-thirds of respondents back [his infrastructure] plan, as well as the idea of paying for it, in part, by hiking the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%.” Monmouth’s survey also asked about Biden’s proposals in his speech last night including a large spending plan to expand access to healthcare and childcare, and provide paid leave and college tuition support. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they supported it, while 34% opposed it and just 2% said they did not know.