Biden’s First Address to a Joint Session of Congress

Historic photo marks the first time 2 women flanked the US president at a speech to Congress

“Madam Speaker and Madam Vice President,” Biden said as he took to the stage. “No sitting US president has ever said those words. It’s about time!” Biden said.

“President Joe Biden made his first presidential address to a joint session of Congress, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris, sitting behind him at the rostrum, made history.

The occasion marked the first time that the Speaker of the House and president of the Senate were both women – and the first time that a US president was flanked by two women presiding in those positions during a presidential address.”

“Listening to parts of Biden’s speech, you wouldn’t necessarily know Congress is stuck in gridlock. While no Republicans supported Biden’s coronavirus stimulus and the party is balking at the size of his infrastructure package — among many proposals — Biden spoke almost as if Congress had put up a united front.

Biden said that with “the overwhelming support of the American people — Democrats, independents and Republicans — we did act together. We passed the American Rescue Plan, one of the most consequential rescue packages in American history.”

“He added of the coronavirus vaccine response: “Senior deaths from covid-19 are down 80 percent since January — down 80 percent, because of all of you.”

And: “We will have provided over 220 million covid shots in those [first] 100 days — thanks to all the help of all of you. We’re marshaling — with your help, everyone’s help — we’re marshaling every federal resource.”

“It was an interesting rhetorical tactic. Beyond an appeal to Republicans to support various gun restrictions, Biden didn’t dwell much on his opposition. 

While Congress is still considering Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure and jobs bill, Biden detailed a new $1.8 trillion American Families Plan that would include significant expansions of government spending on education and the social safety net. Combined with the $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus plan that already passed in Congress, that brings Biden’s proposed spending near $6 trillion.

Biden is calling for tax increases on the wealthy and corporations, for example, along with funding the IRS to more aggressively audit their tax returns, which he claims could bring in hundreds of billions. And he’s pitching these ideas as spurring huge growth, rather than simply giveaways. 

“Let’s start with what I will not do: I will not impose any tax increase on people making less than $400,000,” Biden said.

And: “We’re only going to affect three-tenths of 1 percent of all Americans by that action — three-tenths of 1 percent.”

And: “When you hear someone say they don’t want to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent or corporate America, ask them whose taxes you want to raise instead.”

And of the 39.6 percent capital gains rate he’s proposing for top earners: “That’s where it was when George W. [Bush] was president.”

“Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) is reportedly worth $250 million, but all that money did not appear to be enough to give him happiness during President Joe Biden’s address to Congress.”

“This year and next, forecasters are predicting a burst in hiring and growth that will rapidly heal most financial wounds from the pandemic.

The biggest concern is that the economy will overheat from so much stimulus, triggering rapid price increases that would make it difficult for middle-class families to afford goods and force policymakers to slow growth to contain inflation. Already there are pockets of concern, with used-car prices up nearly 10 percent and meat, including beef and pork chops, up almost 6 percent over the past year.”

“President Joe Biden called on Congress to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices — a policy that already saves Medicaid billions, but that has been illegal ever since prescription drug benefits were first implemented for Medicare in the mid-2000s.

 “Let’s give Medicare the power to save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating lower drug prescription prices.”

“Oddly, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) appeared actively upset at the idea of what Biden was proposing, with at least one observer on Twitter appearing to note he looked teary-eyed.

But right-wing internet talk host Steven Crowder had a very different reaction, lobbying a sexist attack against Kamala Harris implying that she is either promiscuous or a witch. “Don’t say Kamala Harris’ name,” he said. “Every time you say it she doesn’t know whether to spread her legs or appear in a mirror.”

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