Biden delivers first joint address to Congress

By Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 3:00 p.m. ET, June 29, 2021
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10:02 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Biden: "Trickle down economics has never worked"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

President Biden laid out his plan to pay for his ambitious agenda, saying that he did not oppose millionaires and billionaires, but they must pay their fair share of taxes.

Biden also criticized trickle down economics, a theory popular among Republicans, which says that tax cuts given to big businesses and the wealthy, strengthen the economy by trickling down to smaller businesses and individuals with fewer resources.  

"My fellow Americans, trickle down, trickle down economics has never worked and it is time to grow the economy, for the bottom and the middle out," said Biden, receiving applause and a few standing ovations from Democratic lawmakers. 

Watch the moment:

9:50 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Biden wants the "wealthiest 1% of Americans to begin to pay their fair share"

Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images
Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images

President Biden wants the wealthiest Americans to pay "their fair share" when it comes to taxes.

"I will not impose any tax increase on people making less than $400,000. But it's time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1% of Americans to begin to pay their fair share. Just their fair share," Biden said during his first joint address to Congress.

More context: Biden has said he is already working to make permanent several major, albeit temporary, tax breaks for low-income and middle class Americans, that were part of the stimulus. These include expansions of the child tax credit and earned income tax credit, as well as more generous Affordable Care Act premium subsidies.

Much of Biden's plan rests on reversing the Republicans' 2017 tax cuts, which were more heavily weighted to those at the upper end of the income ladder, though many key provisions will expire after 2025.

In March, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden believes that "those at the top are not doing their part" and "obviously that corporations could be paying higher taxes."

9:50 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Fact check: Biden’s infrastructure plan and education

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

In arguing that his infrastructure plan would create well-paying jobs for Americans, President Biden said that “Nearly 90% of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan don’t require a college degree. 75% don’t require an associate’s degree.”

Facts First: While it’s impossible to fact check the impact of a plan that hasn’t even passed Congress, a forecast from Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce supports these figures depending on how “college degree” is defined. The study estimates that 85% of the jobs from the infrastructure plan would be filled by those without a bachelor’s degree, while 75% of the jobs would be filled by those without an associate’s degree, according to the estimate. 

The forecast predicts that 16% of the jobs could go to those with education levels below graduating high school, 37% could go to those with a high school diploma, 14% to those with some college education but no degree, 8% to those with a postsecondary vocational certificate and 10% to those with an associate’s degree. 

Many of these jobs would be temporary, as a study from S&P Global notes, estimating that the majority of jobs would taper off by 2029 as infrastructure projects are completed. It’s important to note too that studies and estimates around the infrastructure plan vary widely.  

Again, this is just one forecast of the potential effects of a plan not yet passed by Congress.


9:51 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Biden makes an appeal for bipartisanship as a means to compete globally

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Melina Mara/The Washington Pos/Pool/AP
Melina Mara/The Washington Pos/Pool/AP

President Biden made an appeal for bipartisanship and his sweeping infrastructure plan tonight, framing the need for consensus domestically as a means for the US to maintain competitiveness globally, particularly with China.

“Vice President Harris and I met regularly in the Oval Office with Democrats and Republicans to discuss the American Jobs Plan. And I applaud a group of Republican Senators who just put forward their own proposal,” Biden said during his address to a Joint Session of Congress, referring to a proposal unveiled by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito last week.

Biden continued, “So, let’s get to work. I wanted to lay out to Congress my plan before we got into the deep discussion. I’d like to meet with those who have ideas that are different. We welcome ideas. But the rest of the world isn’t waiting for us. I just want to be clear: from my perspective, doing nothing is not an option. Look, we can’t be so busy competing with one another and forget the competition we have with the rest of the world to win the 21st century.”

Biden went on to describe a two-hour conversation he had with Chinese President Xi Jinping upon taking office.

“He’s deadly earnest on becoming the most significant, consequential nation in the world. He and others, autocrats, think that democracy can’t compete in the 21st century with autocracies. It takes too long to get consensus,” he said.

Biden is betting on democracy — and that, in his view, will require consensus and big investments. Central to that challenge will be the consensus of Congress, and whether he's able to forge ahead and pass key legislative priorities with a 50-50 Senate.

There have been active discussions with top White House officials and a group of Senate Republicans, including Capito, on the potential compromise, though the intensifying discussions are still in early stages. Biden has also suggested that his definition of “bipartisan” passage of his massive infrastructure proposals does not necessarily require Republican votes in Congress, but rather, support from a majority of Americans.

9:46 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Biden remembers son Beau while pushing for more funding for the NIH: "Let's end cancer as we know it"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Chip Somodevilla/Pool/AP
Chip Somodevilla/Pool/AP

President Biden remembered his late son Beau Biden while urging for more funding for the National Institute of Health to create an advanced research project agency to focus on developing breakthroughs to prevent, detect and treat diseases like cancer, Alzheimers and diabetes.

Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015. Congress renamed a cancer research bill after him in 2016, Biden's last year as vice president. He recounted that moment during his remarks.

"Here's what it would do. It would have a singular purpose, to develop breakthroughs to prevent, detect, and treat diseases like Alzheimer's, diabetes, and cancer. I'll still never forget when we passed the cancer proposal in the last year as vice president, almost $9 million going to NIH. You'll excuse the point of personal privilege. I'll never forget you standing, Mitch, and naming it after my deceased son. It meant a lot. But so many of us have deceased sons, daughters, and relatives who died of cancer. I can think of no more worthy investment. I know of nothing that is more bipartisan. So let's end cancer as we know it. It's within our power. It's within our power to do it," Biden said.

9:51 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Biden tasks Harris with taking lead on the broadband component of the American Jobs Plan

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez and Jeff Zeleny

President Biden said during his joint address to Congress tonight that he is tasking Vice President Kamala Harris with being the point person on broadband efforts in the American Jobs Plan.

The infrastructure proposal, Biden said, will create "jobs connecting every American with high-speed internet, including 35% of rural Americans who still don’t have it. This will help our kids and businesses succeed in a 21st century economy.”

"And I am asking the vice president to lead this effort if she would,” Biden added, turning to Harris, who nodded. “Because I know it will get done.”

Though the scope of her responsibilities wasn't completely clear in the speech, a White House official told CNN that Biden is tasking Harris with the broadband component of the American Jobs Plan – not the entire jobs plan. The assignment is to focus on lifting the broadband piece within the broader jobs plan – to get it passed and implement it.

Watch the moment:

9:43 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Fact check: Biden's infrastructure plan and the economy 

From CNN's Katie Lobosco

President Biden said that "independent experts estimate the American Jobs Plan will add millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to economic growth in years to come." 

Facts first: It's true that some experts say the plan could create millions of jobs, but analysts differ on how much economic growth it could spur.  

The American Jobs Plan proposes spending $2 trillion on improving the nation's infrastructure and paying for it by hiking corporate taxes. Some independent analysts say it will have a positive effect on jobs and the economy — but the magnitude of its effect will depend on the size and structure of the package that Congress ultimately passes.  

Moody's Analytics found that the proposal would create about 2.7 million jobs by the end of 2030. A separate report from S&P Global noted that the jobs created by the plan could be temporary. It estimated that in the short term, $2.1 trillion in infrastructure spending could create 2.3 million jobs, but that as infrastructure projects are completed these jobs would taper off and the net jobs added from the proposal would be 713,000 by 2029. 

Moody's Analytics projects that the infrastructure plan will result in a higher GDP over the next decade. It predicts GDP will grow by 3.8% in 2024compared with 2.2% if the plan fails to become law.  

S&P Global also found that that much infrastructure spending would boost the economy over the next decade adding $5.7 trillion over that time period. It estimated that GDP growth will be lifted to 2.2% from 1.7% over the next 10 years.  

But a different analysis from the Penn Wharton Budget Model took a longer-term view and found that the infrastructure proposal would actually end up decreasing GDP by 0.8% in 2050. 


1:12 a.m. ET, April 29, 2021

Biden: "Buy American, buy American"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Melina Mara/The Washington Pos/Pool/AP
Melina Mara/The Washington Pos/Pool/AP

President Biden tonight pitched his administration's infrastructure plan directly to the American people, saying it would be led by the principle of American investment. 

"All the investments in the America Jobs Plan, will be guided by one principal, 'buy American, buy American," he said, repeating himself to emphasize his point.

"American tax dollars, are going to be used to buy American products, made in America to create American jobs," he continued. "That is the way that it is supposed to be and it will be in this administration."

Watch here:

9:51 p.m. ET, April 28, 2021

Biden is unveiling his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan. Here's what is in the proposal.

From CNN's Tami Luhby, Maegan Vazquez and Katie Lobosco

A month after he laid out a roughly $2 trillion infrastructure plan aimed at helping the nation recover from the coronavirus pandemic, President Biden is unveiling an additional $1.8 trillion federal investment in education, child care and paid family leave during his first address tonight.

The massive package — which Biden is calling the American Families Plan — is the second half of his effort to revitalize the nation and ensure a more equitable recovery. The proposal would also extend or make permanent enhancements to several key tax credits that were contained in the Democrats' $1.9 trillion rescue bill, which Biden signed into law last month.

The President intends to finance the latest package by hiking taxes on the rich, saying he wants to reward work, not wealth. His new proposed measures would raise about $1.5 trillion over a decade.The families plan pairs with Biden's infrastructure proposal, known as the American Jobs Plan, which calls for improving the nation's roads, bridges, broadband, railways and schools.

Here's a closer look at what is in the plan:

  • Helping families afford child care: Biden's proposal calls for having low- and middle-income families pay no more than 7% of their income on child care for kids younger than age 5. Parents earning up to 1.5 times the median income in their state would qualify.
  • Making community college free: Biden is proposing a $109 billion plan to make two years of community college free. The federal government would cover about 75% of the average tuition cost in each state when the program is fully implemented, with states picking up the rest, another senior administration official said. States would also be expected to maintain their current contributions to their higher education systems.
  • Enhancing Pell Grants: The President would provide up to approximately $1,400 in additional assistance to low-income students by increasing the Pell Grant award. Nearly 7 million students, including many people of color, rely on Pell Grants, but their value has not kept up with the rising cost of college. Students can receive up to $6,495 for the 2021-22 school year. Biden has promised to double the maximum award.
  • Providing paid family and medical leave: limited federal paid family and sick leave measure was included as part of the major pandemic rescue package passed by Congress in March 2020. It provided up to two weeks of paid sick days for workers who were ill or quarantined, as well as an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave if they needed to care for a child whose school or daycare was closed due to the pandemic. The requirement expired in December, though the federal government will continue to subsidize employers who choose to offer the paid leave through September.
  • Investing $200 billion in universal preschool: Biden is calling for the federal government to invest $200 billion in universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds through a national partnership with states. The administration estimates it would benefit 5 million children and save the average family $13,000 when fully implemented.

Read more about the proposal here.