President Joe Biden delivered his first speech since taking office on April 28 in a joint session of the House and Senate.
President Joe Biden’s $6 trillion initial spending plan – his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan – passed, but received zero votes from Republicans. Republicans voted for zero; his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan and $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which has drawn strong criticism from Republicans and relatively mild criticism and resistance from some Democrats over the high cost of the plans.
In his first joint address to Congress on Wednesday (April 28), Biden unveiled his latest legislative proposal, a $1.8 trillion family and education package. He called it a “once-in-a-generation” investment that would bring lasting benefits to the economy, expand the middle class and reduce child poverty. The package includes $1 trillion in education and child care spending, as well as $800 billion in tax credits for low- and middle-income families, funded primarily by tax increases for wealthy Americans.
Republicans say much of the $6 trillion in spending Biden proposed early on was to satisfy his liberal base, which amounts to socialism.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, commented on Twitter that Biden’s plan is “a radical vision for our country that will turn the American dream into an American nightmare.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, pushed back against what he called Biden’s “go-it-alone radicalism” in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday (April 29) He said
He said, “The president talked about unity and collaboration when he read a trillion-dollar shopping list that was not designed or intended to win bipartisan approval.”
He added, “It’s a blueprint to give Washington more money and more power to micromanage (micro-manage) American families and build a country that liberal elites want, not a future that the American people want.”
Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican known for his willingness to work in a bipartisan manner, took aim at the scale of spending in Biden’s proposal in a tweet Thursday.
Romney wrote: “In his first 100 days in office, the president has proposed $6 trillion in new spending – about four times our total federal budget!” Romney complains that the exorbitant spending will burden future generations with decades of interest and jeopardize their future.”
“You know what’s hard to do?” Romney said in his Twitter video, “It’s hard to live within your budget and do well within your budget.”
Romney added, “Spending like there’s no tomorrow is easy to do. And, unfortunately, the president has a lot of things he wants to do, but he’s spending money like crazy.” Romney also urged Biden to resist the willingness to spend heavily from the liberal wing of his party.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, has been more sharply critical of Biden’s spending plan.
Christie was part of a panel of commentators on ABC-TV Wednesday. He commented on it, “The speech sounded like you’re giving a 15-year-old a credit card with no limits, but from an adult who should know better.”
Some Democrats also had reservations about the staggering $6 trillion in spending proposed by Biden.
Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, said Biden’s new family plan “has good goals,” but questioned whether such a large amount of spending is still needed given the massive bailout already in place.
According to Bloomberg, Tester said, “We have to look at how this plan fits in with the previous one. Whether there is an overlap and whether that overlap is accounted for.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, made his criticism more clear Wednesday, saying he was “very troubled” by the overall cost of the plan, citing concerns about the growing U.S. public debt.
Speaking to CNN on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Manchin said, “A lot of money, a lot of money – it makes you feel very uncomfortable, and you have to think about how you’re going to pay that off yourself, you know?”
As a country, he said, “Are we going to be able to stay competitive and be able to pay what we need to pay? We have to figure out what our needs are and maybe make some adjustments, who knows.”
“I don’t know how much more debt there will be – we’re now $28.2 trillion in debt. We need to find a balance, and we have to address that.”
Manchin has emerged as a key swing vote in a bipartisan Senate with an even split of seats. That has made him the one person who can force changes to bills that he believes are unreasonable in size or cost.
Notably, after Senate Republicans criticized the partisan process used by Democrats to pass the American Rescue Plan and called Biden’s call for unity “hollow” and denounced the plan as “bloated, wasteful and highly partisan,” Manchin said the bill would have been passed by the Senate. After calling Biden’s call for unity “hollow” and denouncing the plan as “bloated, wasteful and highly partisan,” Manchin said bluntly that he would block Biden’s next major legislative proposal unless he made more of an effort to include Republican voices.
Many conservatives hope the West Virginia senator, will curb the Democrats’ willingness for more radical policies.
In his speech to Congress, Biden repeatedly mentioned Republicans, thanking them for offering an alternative to the $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan and urging them to support his new proposal. He will discuss his proposed plan with top congressional Democrats and Republicans at the White House on May 12.
Biden has proposed a family plan that would provide an additional four years of free public education. The plan calls for $200 billion to provide free universal preschool for all three- and four-year-olds, in addition to $109 billion for two years of free community college.
The bill also proposes $225 billion in funding to help parents pay for child care and to increase the wages of child care workers. Another $225 billion is earmarked for the National Family and Medical Leave Program and $45 billion to improve school meals and provide food benefits to children during the summer months. Biden’s proposal also seeks to reduce health insurance premiums for the Affordable Care Act program by $200 billion.
After Biden presented his new plan Wednesday, North Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott questioned the Democrats’ lack of interest in working with Republicans on infrastructure legislation and rejected Biden’s Families USA plan, which aims to put Washington on the map. “cradle-to-college” center of American life.
In a nationally televised Republican rebuttal to Biden’s speech, Scott said, “Our president seems like a nice guy. His speech was full of wonderful words.”
He added, “But our country yearns for more than empty platitudes. Our best future will not come from Washington’s plans, or socialist dreams.”