By: Teddy Grant
President Joe Biden addressed the joint session of Congress Wednesday night. He laid out the accomplishments of his first 100 days in office while pushing for a nearly $2 trillion investment in children, families and education.
The American Families Plan
Biden centered his speech around the American Families Plan, a $1.8 billion bold piece of legislation that would create a first-of-its-kind federal paid leave program.
The bill would also create incentives for states to adopt universal pre-K, provide two years of community college for free and provide affordable childcare for low and middle-class families.
It would also expand Pell grants for colleges and universities and extend the child tax credit that would cut child poverty in half.
“My fellow Americans, trickle-down economics has never worked. It’s time to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out,” Biden said. “A broad consensus of economists – left, right, center – agree that what I’m proposing will help create millions of jobs and generate historic economic growth.”
The president’s proposal includes increasing the top tax rate for the wealthiest one percent of Americans. This would reverse the GOP tax cuts from 2017.
Biden touted the number of Americans who have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In his first 100 days in office, 220 million doses were administered to people, shattering his initial goal of 100 million shots in the same period. “More than half of all adults in America have gotten at least one shot,” Biden said.
The coronavirus pandemic has upended American life. Over 32 million Americans have contracted the disease, with more than 571,000 dying from COVID-19, according to the data from The New York Times.
The COVID-19 vaccine is currently available to anyone at least 16 years old who wants to get vaccinated.
Biden also called for federal police reform following the guilty verdict of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was convicted earlier this month for murdering George Floyd last May.
Floyd’s death prompted massive protests over policing practices in America and racial inequality.
Biden has been pushing for the George Floyd Policing Act, which would increase accountability for law enforcement.
The bill, which is currently stalled in the Senate, would limit qualified immunity and make officers more accountable if sued in a civil lawsuit.
It would also lower the criminal intent standard that would make it easier for cops to be convicted for misconduct in a federal prosecution and would allow the Justice Department to issue subpoenas in investigations at police departments that have patterns of discrimination.
“We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black America,” he said. “Now is our opportunity to make real progress… 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.”
Republican Sen. Tim Scott gave a 15-minute rebuttal to Biden’s address to Congress, accusing Biden and the Democrats of dividing Americans.
Addressing accusations that the GOP is making it harder for people to vote, Scott said his party supports “making it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”
Republican-led states have pushed for and passed bills that restrict people’s access to the polls.
These bills contain clauses that make it harder to register to vote, reduce early voting periods and make it harder to vote by mail, the Brennan Center reports, according to Brennan Center.
“What they want to do is to make sure that people who are less likely to vote for them don’t vote as often. Republicans don’t win by their policies, they don’t win by genius, they win by the margin of Black and Brown people who are denied access to the polls,” Black News Tonight host Marc Lamont Hill said Wednesday before Biden’s speech.
Scott, who is Black, said that the U.S. was not a racist country but detailed his experiences of being a Black man who was stopped by the police for no reason and followed around in a store.
“Hear me clearly,” he said. “America is not a racist country.”
Scott said that Democrats had ignored progress made over the last 100 years for political and financial purposes.