President Joe Biden presented Americans with a bold — and expensive — agenda in his address before a joint session of Congress Wednesday night, one with a price tag exceeding $6 trillion. Biden’s policies have earned the praise of progressives like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“The Biden presidency has definitely exceeded expectations progressives had. To be frank, a lot of us expected a much more conservative administration,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said earlier in the day.
So how did it play among the more moderate environs of the Delaware Valley, where Democrats only recently came to power? Democrats are giving Biden’s speech rave reviews.
Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Chester) said that Biden outlined an “ambitious and historic” plan.
“Tonight, President Biden delivered a Joint Address to Congress, but he was clearly speaking to the American people,” Scanlon said. “He did not shy away from the challenges our nation faces or the tensions that exist in our society. Rather, he offered solutions that give us a shared path forward.”
Scanlon’s colleague, Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery), agreed. “President Biden is right. There is nothing we can’t do if we come together. In the first 100 days together, we have acted to restore the people’s faith and we’re vaccinating the nation.”
Montgomery County Commissioners Chair Val Arkoosh, a Democrat who is running for the U.S. Senate, said via Twitter, “@POTUS #Joint Address laid out ambitious priorities right where we out to focus our efforts–on workers and families, on childcare and education. These are the hard problems we should be tackling and the right investments we should be making in the future of our Commonwealth. “
Biden’s speech was the first time he’s laid out his expansive agenda to spend trillions of dollars and extend federal power far into areas like education and local infrastructure traditionally governed at the state and local level.
“Tonight, I come to talk about crisis — and opportunity. About rebuilding our nation — and revitalizing our democracy. And winning the future for America,” Biden said.
Winning that future will be expensive. In his speech, Biden touted his “American Families Plan,” $1.8 trillion in new spending on taxpayer-funded universal pre-K ($200 billion), two years of tax-funded community college ($109 billion), and up to 12 weeks of paid leave ($225 billion).
Add that $1.8 trillion to the $1.9 trillion “COVID relief” package (less than 20 percent went to public health) and the $2.3 trillion “infrastructure” plan (less than 10 percent is traditional infrastructure), and the result has Republicans labeling President Biden the “Six Trillion Dollar Man.”
That’s what Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) called Biden Wednesday. “The impact of Biden’s spending is $46,000 per household. That’s a heavy burden. We’re going to spend more money in the first six months of the Biden presidency than we spent to win World War II.”
Interestingly, Biden never mentioned how much he was “investing” in any of these programs in his speech. The only time he used the word “trillion” was to attack Trump’s tax cuts. He also pledged to raise taxes, though he said it would only be on “the rich.” Fact checkers have acknowledged that Biden’s mix of corporate tax hikes and changes to business taxes would, in fact, hit middle-class business owners, too.
Still, Delaware Valley Democrats said they are on board.
“I am excited about the American Jobs Plan,” said Marian Moskowitz, Chair of the Chester County Board of Commissioners. “This plan not only creates jobs, good-paying jobs, but also allows us to transform our public infrastructure. We will get our roads and bridges fixed, add transit options and update and modernize our airports. It is time for us to invest in our future.”
Not surprisingly, Republicans have a different take.
“Joe Biden has already managed to kill thousands of union jobs and called for more than $3 trillion in tax hikes. Families and workers cannot trust Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to deliver on their promises when they have spent their first 100 days merely grandstanding and gaslighting,” Republican Party of Pennsylvania Vice Chairwoman Bernie Comfort told Delaware Valley Journal.
“When Joe Biden wasn’t taking credit for President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed and rebounding economy, he was espousing a far-left policy wish list and telling working families that he was going to raise their taxes,” said Jeff Bartos, a Montgomery County Republican running for U.S. Senate. “It is more clear than ever that Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and their increasingly radicalized Democrat Party only know how to do two things: spend your money and raise your taxes. We are just one presidency removed from Donald Trump, and Washington has already reverted to pursuing policies that will devastate the forgotten women and men who have been left behind by career politicians for generations.”