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April 29, 2021

President Biden addresses joint session of Congress

President Biden addressed a joint session of Congress April 28, striking a hopeful tone about the nation's recovery from the pandemic, calling for action on the American Jobs Plan traditional infrastructure proposal, and detailing the American Families Plan human infrastructure proposal. The President highlighted the victories of his first 100 days of his presidency, saying progress against the pandemic during that time has been "one of the greatest logistical achievements our country has ever seen" and that stimulus checks have made a difference for many Americans.

President Biden said the Jobs Plan would create jobs for people replacing lead pipes and building a modern power grid and help millions of people get back to their jobs and their careers. "For too long, we have failed to use the most important word when it comes to meeting the climate crisis. Jobs," the President said. He said these would be good-paying jobs that can't be outsourced, many of them don't require an advanced degree, and, "The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America." The President said he applauded the group of Republican senators who outlined an alternative infrastructure proposal last week, saying, "Let's get to work."

The President said the American Families Plan addresses four of the biggest challenges facing Americans:

  1. access to a good education, including through two years of universal high-quality pre-school and two years of free community college;
  2. access to quality, affordable childcare, guaranteeing that low- to middle-income families will pay no more than 7% of their income for high-quality care for children up to the age of 5;
  3. providing up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave; and
  4. putting money directly into the pockets of millions of families by extending the expanded Child Tax Credit at least through the end of 2025 and making permanent Affordable Care Act premium tax credits included in the American Rescue Plan.

On health care, President Biden said they surpassed his promise to provide 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots in 100 days, providing over 220 million shots but noting that "there's still more work to do to beat this virus." As part of his American Jobs Plan, Biden said that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) should create an agency — the Advanced Research Projects Agency — to develop breakthroughs to "prevent, detect, and treat diseases like Alzheimer's, diabetes, and cancer."

He also discussed how the American Rescue Plan lowered health care premiums for 9 million Americans who buy coverage on the ACA exchanges, saying the provision should be made permanent as done in his American Families Plan. He called the ACA a "lifeline for millions of Americans" but said we should lower deductibles and prescription drug costs to help working families, calling for giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs and using the money to further strengthen the ACA. He said, "this is all about a simple premise: Health care should be a right, not a privilege in America."

On taxes, President Biden said corporations "benefit from tax loopholes and deductions that allow for offshoring jobs and shifting profits overseas. That's not right. We're going to reform corporate taxes so they pay their fair share — and help pay for the public investments their businesses will benefit from."

He said, "we're going to reward work, not wealth," including by taking the top tax bracket "for the wealthiest 1% of Americans — those making $400,000 or more — back up to 39.6%." The President also said, "We're going to get rid of the loopholes that allow Americans who make more than $1 million a year pay a lower rate on their capital gains than working Americans pay on their work." Also, "the IRS will crack down on millionaires and billionaires who cheat on their taxes."

President Biden said the TCJA "was supposed to pay for itself and generate vast economic growth. Instead it added $2 trillion to the deficit. It was a huge windfall for corporate America and those at the very top." The pandemic has made the pay gap between CEOs and their workers worse, with millions of workers having lost their jobs while "the roughly 650 Billionaires in America saw their net worth increase by more than $1 Trillion," he said.

The President additionally said, "we must come together to heal the soul of this nation" and "rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve" and "root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system" through police reform. President Biden also called for immigration reform.

"We're vaccinating the nation. We're creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. We're delivering real results people can see and feel in their own lives," President Biden said near the end of the address. "Opening the doors of opportunity. Guaranteeing fairness and justice. That's the essence of America. That's democracy in action."

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by President Biden — Address to a Joint Session of Congress are available here.


Contact Information
For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Washington Council Ernst & Young
   • Any member of the group, at (202) 293-7474.