Progressive lawmakers and advocacy groups are hailing President Biden‘s sweeping multitrillion-dollar tax and spending plan as a major victory for the left-wing faction of the Democratic Party.
Biden’s first 100 days in office have been marked by an unprecedented spending blitz: Less than one month after Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, the president unveiled a $2.3 trillion plan targeting infrastructure and green energy, followed by a $1.8 trillion measure focused on domestic priorities such as child care, paid family leave and education.
During his first primetime address on Wednesday before a joint session of Congress, Biden heralded the ambitious spending proposals, which would be paid for by new taxes on corporations and rich Americans, as an opportunity for the U.S. to rebuild its pandemic-stricken economy and expand the social safety net on a scale not seen since Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the Oval Office.
“I can report to the nation: America is on the move again,” Biden said. “Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.”
Biden — an establishment stalwart who once promised rich donors that “nothing would fundamentally change” if he were elected — demanded that Congress pass close to $4 trillion in new funding to rebuild roads and bridges, combat climate change, invest in electric vehicles, create universal preschool, slash child poverty in half and establish two-years of free community college, and extend a wide swath of other benefits.
The initiatives, dubbed the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, would be funded by a slew of tax hikes, including raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% and imposing a higher global minimum on companies’ foreign earnings, as well as nearly doubling the capital gains tax rate to 39.6% from 20% for households earning more than $1 million and restoring the top individual income tax rate to 39.6% from 37%. Republicans have balked at the massive level of proposed spending and the trillions in new taxes, imperiling the bills’ chances in a deeply divided Washington.
“We have to prove democracy still works, that our government still works and we can deliver for our people,” Biden said.
Progressives took a victory lap following the speech, claiming credit for the president’s full embrace of policies like free preschool, guaranteed paid family leave and higher taxes for the top sliver of rich Americans.
“This is the power of organizing,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., tweeted. “Let’s keep going.”
That sentiment was echoed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive firebrand from New York, who credited the “countless activists, organizers, and advocates whose relentless work is why we are even hearing anything about universal childcare, white supremacy as terrorism, labor and living wages tonight.”
“Yet we cannot stop until it’s done,” she wrote. “Keep going.”
“Listening to the #JointAddress, I hear the influence of organizers across the generations,” wrote Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. “You have brought us to this moment. You have demanded union jobs, living wages, HCBS, paid family & medical leave & more. This is a once in a generation moment for government to deliver.”
“Biden’s joint address is proof,” Max Berger, a former director of outreach for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, tweeted. “Progressives are winning the battle of ideas. We are setting the agenda for the Democratic Party and the country as a whole. Let’s keep going.”