America ‘on the move again’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 30, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:40 AM, April 30, 2021

America ‘on the move again’

Biden pleads for unity, equality in first speech to Congress as president

President Joe Biden triumphantly declared that the United States is "on the move again" in a rousing speech to Congress yesterday, calling for trillions of dollars to rebuild the post-pandemic US middle class and give new life to "forgotten" workers. 

Lauding the success of mass vaccination against Covid-19, Biden told Congress and the nation on primetime television that "in America, we always get up."

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"America is ready for takeoff," he said. "We are working again, dreaming again, discovering again, leading the world again."

Biden, who was celebrating the eve of his 100th day in office, called the vaccine rollout one of "the greatest logistical achievements" in US history.

But Biden quickly pivoted to insisting that this national effort must now focus on rebuilding the economy and fighting inequality with "the largest jobs plan since World War II."

In a line that could have come from his populist Republican predecessor Trump, Biden said working-class Americans had been ignored, while the top one percent got richer, and that his plans would give them a chance.

On foreign policy he underlined Washington's return to international partnerships damaged under Trump.

"No one nation" can succeed alone, he said, in a rebuke of Trump's isolationist policies.

Among his many references to arch-rival China, Biden said that while Beijing is seeking supremacy, "we welcome the competition" and "are not looking for conflict."

On domestic issues, Biden made the case for the Democrats' lengthy wish list, including police reform, pro-immigrant reforms and gun control -- some of the most sensitive issues in US politics.

"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," Biden said, urging the Senate to pass a police reform bill already approved in the House.

He pleaded with Republicans and Democrats to work together on one of the nation's most hot-button topics, saying "let's end our exhausting war on immigration."

Biden is banking on popular support for his idea of leaning on the super rich to fund his latest new spending proposal, which he unveiled in the speech -- the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan.

The plan, which will need approval by a deeply divided Congress, would pour money into early education, childcare and higher education.

To fund this, the top income tax rate would increase from 37 percent, where Trump's plan put it, back to its pre-Trump 39.6 percent.

 Americans earning less than $400,000 a year, however, would face no extra taxes.

The proposed new splurge comes after Congress already approved a $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which injected stimulus into almost every corner of the economy, and is now debating a proposed $2 trillion-plus infrastructure plan.   

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