Washington (AP) – In his first speech as US president to both houses of Congress, Joe Biden conjured up a new American start after the era of his predecessor Donald Trump.
“After 100 days of salvation and renewal, America is ready to take off. We’re back to work. Dream again. Discover again. Lead the world again, ”Biden said at the Capitol on Wednesday (local time). The Democrat promoted his billion dollar plans to bring about sweeping changes in the country. Biden promised a future where the state would serve the people, open up opportunities for them, and guarantee “fairness and justice.”
Biden will be in office for 100 days on Thursday. The 78-year-old Democrat replaced Republican Trump in the White House on January 20. The first speech of a newly elected US president at a joint House and Senate session in the Capitol is not traditionally called a State of the Union speech, which otherwise happens annually. For the first time in US history, two women sat behind the president on Wednesday: Kamala Harris, the country’s first female vice president, and House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi.
Due to the corona pandemic, Biden’s audience was significantly smaller than in a normal year. Most of the time, the audience is huddled in the stands in the House of Representatives – this year, according to Pelosi, there were only 200 people instead of 1,600.
Biden used his address to call on congressmen from both parties to support his administration’s far-reaching plans. He described a billion dollar infrastructure package he proposed as the greatest boost to the labor market since World War II. The more than $ 2 trillion (about $ 1.7 trillion) program will create millions of new jobs and massive growth over the next eight years, Biden promised. The plan will help America triumph in the economic competition of the 21st century.
Biden’s plans to support families and promote education also go a long way. He wants to significantly expand Social Security benefits, which are scarce in the US – the cost is expected to reach about $ 1.8 trillion over a decade. Both the family plan and the infrastructure package are funded through tax increases. “No one should have to choose between a job and a salary, or take care of themselves and a loved one – a parent, spouse or child,” said Biden.
His proposals require Congressional approval – and the country is still deeply divided internally. With some plans, Biden could even get rejection from individual moderate Democrats in the Senate. He also called for impartial cooperation in the fight against the “gun violence epidemic” in the US.
The president also called on the parties to coordinate to combat structural racism. “We’ve all seen the knee of injustice in black America’s necks,” Biden said, referring to the murder of African American George Floyd, who was brutally arrested last year in the American city of Minneapolis. A now-convicted white ex-cop knelt on Floyd’s neck for minutes.
Regarding his corona policy, Biden drew a positive mid-term review and urged Americans to get vaccinated. “Get vaccinated, America!” Said Biden. Sufficient vaccine doses are available. “The past 100 days in one of the worst pandemics in history have been one of the greatest logistical achievements this country has ever seen,” continued Biden. But the epidemic has not yet been defeated and the US must remain vigilant.
As president, he took over a country in the midst of crisis: the United States had experienced the worst pandemic in a century, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and the storming of the Capitol in January the worst attack on democracy since the American Civil War.
While the focus was on Biden’s domestic political agenda, he also addressed the challenges facing China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. Biden called on his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to comply with global trade rules, and he also pledged to defend US interests. Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin warned Biden of further escalation amid mounting tensions between the two countries. Moscow’s actions have consequences, Biden said. Speaking of recently imposed US penalties, he said, “I have responded promptly and appropriately to Russia’s interference in our elections and cyber attacks on our government and companies.”
In competition with the world’s autocracies, according to Biden, the US must show the power of democracy. “We need to prove that democracy still works,” he said – making it clear that he sees his government on the right track. “We vaccinate the country. We create hundreds of thousands of jobs. We deliver real results that people can see and feel in their own lives. “