Biden is very positive
In an empty room surrounded by security forces
US president Joe Biden was very positive about the current situation in the United States during his first speech to Congress on Wednesday evening (local time). According to Biden, at his inauguration he inherited a country in crisis, but the US is now on the move again.
In his speech, the president discussed income inequality, the coronavirus, infrastructure, employment and immigration. He again stressed that his government had managed to deploy more than 220 million coronavirus vaccines within a hundred days of taking office, while he had set a target of 100 million. By now, any American aged 16 years or older can receive a Coronavirus vaccine.
He called the vaccination campaign one of the greatest logistical successes ever. Biden promised that he would eventually help other countries with vaccines.
“The US is becoming an arsenal of vaccines for other countries – just as we were an Arsenal for democracy after World War II,” Biden said.
The president said he got the US economy going again with his coronavirus support package of over $ 1,900 billion (1,565 billion). In addition, he confirmed that there will be a support package of another 1,800 billion dollars. That money is meant to support children, families and education. For example, there should be free training for practical professions and free parental leave.
According to Biden, this is to combat inequality in the US. He called it a”unique investment in the US that occurs only once per generation”. “We have to prove that democracy still works, that our government still works, and that we can deliver to the people.”
Biden also wants to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure and technology. He wants to make this pay by imposing extra taxes on big corporations and rich people. His plans could count on a standing ovation from the Democratic angle. Most of the Republican MPs stayed.
The Republicans find the plans too expensive and irresponsible and do not support Biden. Republican senator Tim Scott (South Carolina) called Biden’s agenda a “liberal wish list of big government money waste”.
Technically, he doesn’t need Republican support either, because the Democrats have a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. He promised, however, that he would do more to unite the two parties.
Like his predecessor Donald Trump, Biden made a hard move towards China during his speech. In his speech, he warned that the US will react harshly if countries do not comply with international rules. He said that he has told Chinese president Xi Jinping that he is not looking for a conflict, but that he will act against unfair trading practices. He also wants to remain militarily present in the South China Sea. “Not to start a war, but to prevent it,” says Biden.
Finally, Biden also briefly mentioned gun violence, immigration and racism. “We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of black Americans,” referring to the death of George Floyd. “Now is the time to make real progress.”
Behind Biden were Vice President Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives. It is the first time that two women have stood behind a president during a speech in Parliament. Biden began his speech by saying that it was “finally time” for that. On Friday, he will be president for exactly a hundred days.
The president’s speech is normally attended by about 1 600 people, but the coronavirus has now reduced it to about 200. Also people had fixed places and no guests were invited. The speech was broadcast live on American television.
Security around the Capitol in Washington was added this year, for fear of further unrest following the storming of the building on January 6.