Monday November 29th, 2021 6:06AM

Biden speech takeaways: Government is good, and so are jobs

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden returned to the U.S. Capitol, his home for more than three decades, and used his first address to Congress to make the case that the era of big government is back.

Biden said the U.S. is “on the move again” after struggling through a devastating pandemic that killed more than 570,000 Americans, disrupted the economy and shook daily life. And he pitched an expansive — and expensive — vision to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges, water pipes and other infrastructure, bolster public education and extend a wide swath of other benefits.

Takeaways from the president’s address Wednesday night:


Biden uttered the word “jobs” a whopping 43 times.

It’s perhaps no surprise for an administration that has made beating back the pandemic and getting Americans back to work the central guideposts for success.

Biden noted that the economy has gained some 1.3 million new jobs in the first few months of his administration — more than any in the first 100 days of any presidency. But he quickly pivoted to the need to pass his American Jobs Plan if the country is going to sustain momentum and get back to the historic low levels of unemployment before the pandemic.

He also aimed to frame his push for the U.S. to meet its international obligations to slow the impact of climate change as, ultimately, a jobs plan.

“For too long, we have failed to use the most important word when it comes to meeting the climate crisis,” Biden said. “Jobs. Jobs. For me, when I think about climate change, I think jobs.”


Biden said “America's house was on fire” when he took office, citing the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, its damaging economic impact and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

“Now — after just 100 days — I can report to the nation: America is on the move again,” Biden said, adding that the U.S. is now “turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.”

It’s a tried and true strategy by the president to take credit for the more hopeful moment, as the coronavirus vaccines have provided a path out of the pandemic.

Republicans, meanwhile, made it clear they see things differently, with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., implicitly crediting former President Donald Trump for Biden’s good fortune.

“This administration inherited a tide that had already turned,” he said in the official GOP response to Biden’s address.

From polling, it’s clear Biden’s view is winning the day — at least so far — with more Americans approving of his job performance than ever did of Trump, with strong marks even from Republicans for handling the pandemic.


In the past, presidents from both parties used similar speeches to talk about the limits of government. Biden went in the opposite direction, offering a resounding embrace of the role Washington can play in improving lives.

The president ticked off details of some of his plan for $1.8 trillion in spending to expand preschool, create a national family and medical leave program, distribute child care subsidies and more.

The plan comes on top of his proposal for $2.3 trillion in spending to rebuild roads and bridges, expand broadband access and launch other infrastructure projects.

Republicans have shown little interest in Biden’s spending plan. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has argued that Biden’s plans are a “Trojan horse” that will lead to middle-class tax hikes.

But Biden and his aides say all of this new spending is a wise investment in Americans — and doable at a time of low interest rates. Much of it can be paid through raising taxes on the wealthy and would go a long way toward addressing the frailties of life for the middle class and working poor exposed by the pandemic, Biden argues.

“I'm not out to punish anyone,” Biden said. “But I will not add to the tax burden of the middle class of this country.”

While achieving bipartisan backing for the proposals is a long shot, Biden seems to be betting he can win support across the electorate.

He even made a thinly veiled pitch to blue-collar and non-college-educated white men who voted for Trump in November, noting that 90% of the infrastructure jobs that will be created by his spending plans don’t require a college degree and 75% don’t require an associate’s degree.

“The Americans Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America,” Biden said. “And it recognizes something I’ve always said: Wall Street didn’t build this country. The middle class built this country. And unions built the middle class.”


A week after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted in the killing of George Floyd, and as the nation continues to grapple with a disproportionate number of Black men being killed by police, Biden called on Congress to meet the moment.

“We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black America,” Biden said, referencing Floyd’s death under Chauvin's knee. “Now is our opportunity to make real progress.”

Biden, who won the presidency with strong support from Black voters, called on Congress to send him a police reform bill named after Floyd by the anniversary of his death, May 25. But he also went further, saying he aimed to root out systemic racism in housing, education and public health.

“We have a giant opportunity to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice,” said Biden. “Real justice.”


Biden was elected on the promise of delivering action on gun control, immigration reform and voting rights protections, but even he seemed muted about the prospects for action on these priorities.

Biden spoke in emotional terms about gun violence and appealed to Republicans who have expressed support for providing a path to citizenship for people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

“The country supports it,” Biden said repeatedly. “Congress should act.”

The issues were too important to the Democratic base to leave out. But they face stiff opposition among the GOP in the Senate, where 10 Republicans would have to join with Democrats to overcome a filibuster.


Biden said that while the nation’s democracy survived the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol meant to block the certification of his election, leaders in Washington must do more to boost the resilience of the nation’s system of government.

Biden argued that the nation’s adversaries “look at the images of the mob that assaulted this Capitol as proof that the sun is setting on American democracy.”

“We have to prove them wrong," he said. "We have to prove democracy still works. That our government still works — and can deliver for the people.”

It was a familiar refrain for Biden, who has sounded an alarm about the nation’s divisions for years, but the urgency spiked after Jan 6.

Still, the appeal for unity appeared unlikely to sway many minds in Congress. Republicans have already lined up in opposition to Biden's agenda, and the push for a bipartisan commission to probe the insurrection has struggled to gain support.


Biden campaigned on a promise to substantively and stylistically move the country past Trump, and in keeping with that tone, he made no direct mention of the 45th president.

Instead, he spoke only of the “last administration,” blaming Trump and his team for abandoning an effort made by his old boss — Barack Obama — to financially assist the Northern Triangle nations in Central America. Migrants are now fleeing from those countries — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — and arriving at the U.S. border.

In some ways, the absence of talk about Trump, who still falsely claims the election was stolen from him, isn’t surprising. Biden grumbled at a CNN town hall in February that he’s “tired of talking about Trump” and he wants to make the next four years about the American people.

His omission made clear he’s determined to move on.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Biden stresses the need for global cooperation
President Joe Biden is stressing the need for global engagement and cooperation on everything from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change
10:03PM ( 50 seconds ago )
The Latest: Biden says he intends to raise taxes on richest
President Joe Biden says he’s “not looking to punish anybody” but does plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans
9:58PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Deputy killed, another wounded in North Carolina standoff
Authorities say a North Carolina sheriff’s deputy has died and another has been wounded after a shooting at a home led to a standoff that continued late into the night
9:51PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Louisville officer shot in Breonna Taylor raid retiring
The Louisville police officer who fired at Breonna Taylor after being shot during the deadly raid on Taylor’s apartment is retiring
9:10PM ( 54 minutes ago )
The Latest: Harris, Pelosi make presidential address history
Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are making history as the first women to share center stage in Congress during a presidential address
9:00PM ( 1 hour ago )
Deadly California arrest carries echoes of George Floyd case
Police in Alameda, California, are under fire over the death of a Latino man who was pinned to the ground for more than five minutes in an arrest that unfolded the same day a jury in Minneapolis began deliberating in the George Floyd case
8:56PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Senate votes to reinstate methane rules loosened by Trump
Congressional Democrats are moving to reinstate regulations designed to limit potent greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas fields
7:02PM ( 3 hours ago )
US eyes major rollback in Iran sanctions to revive nuke deal
The Biden administration is weighing a major rollback of some of the most stringent Trump-era sanctions imposed on Iran, in a bid to get the Islamic Republic to return to compliance with a landmark 2015 nuclear accord
6:54PM ( 3 hours ago )
Columbus mayor requests federal probe of police force
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther has asked the Department of Justice for an investigation into the city’s police department following a series of police killings of Black people
5:40PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online National News
The Latest: Security tight, crowd thin for Biden's address
Security is tight and the crowd is thin at the Capitol under strict coronavirus restrictions for President Joe Biden’s address to Congress
8:53PM ( 1 hour ago )
First lady holds virtual reception for guests not at speech
First lady Jill Biden held a virtual reception for guests who ordinarily would have joined her in her box at the U.S. Capitol to watch President Joe Biden's prime-time address to Congress
6:36PM ( 3 hours ago )
Judge won't block Arizona Senate's 2020 election recount
A judge is refusing to shut down the Republican-led Arizona Senate’s recount of 2.1 million ballots from the 2020 election in the state’s most populous county
6:14PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Dems laud racial diversity as panel turns focus to judges
The first Senate hearing for President Joe Biden’s judicial nominations featured two African American nominees for appeals court openings
3:33PM ( 6 hours ago )
Ethics hearing: Idaho lawmaker accused of rape pleads Fifth
An Idaho lawmaker facing rape allegations from a 19-year-old intern refused to answer some questions during a legislative ethics hearing Wednesday after his attorney told him to invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination
3:15PM ( 6 hours ago )
Watching from afar, Congress will make or break Biden agenda
The most striking part of President Joe Biden’s address to Congress may be the absence of most members of Congress
3:12PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Gates aids fundraising drive for global vaccine distribution
A new mass fundraising campaign aims to inspire 50 million people around the world to make small donations to Covax, the international effort to push for equitable global distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations
8:00PM ( 2 hours ago )
Ford posts profit, says chip shortage may cut production 50%
Ford posted a surprising $3.26 billion profit in the first quarter, but the company says a worsening global computer chip shortage could cut its production in half during the current quarter
7:04PM ( 3 hours ago )
Audio publisher withdraws edition of new Philip Roth bio
The audiobook publisher of a new Philip Roth biography is pulling the release, following W
5:18PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Business
US stock indexes mixed after Fed leaves rates unchanged
Major U.S. stock indexes are mixed in afternoon trading Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said it is leaving its key interest rate unchanged near zero, while noting recent improvement in the economy
3:34PM ( 6 hours ago )
US stocks little changed after Fed leaves rates unchanged
Stocks were little changed in afternoon trading Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said it is leaving its key interest rate unchanged at near zero, while noting recent improvement in the economy
2:52PM ( 7 hours ago )
EXPLAINER: Capital gains tax hike targets wealthy investors
President Joe Biden is proposing to nearly double the tax rate that the highest-earning Americans pay on profits made from stocks and other investments
2:52PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
The Latest: Biden says he intends to raise taxes on richest
President Joe Biden says he’s “not looking to punish anybody” but does plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans
9:58PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Deputy killed, another wounded in North Carolina standoff
Authorities say a North Carolina sheriff’s deputy has died and another has been wounded after a shooting at a home led to a standoff that continued late into the night
9:51PM ( 12 minutes ago )
US indicts 3 on hate crime charges in death of Ahmaud Arbery
The Justice Department has announced federal hate crime charges in the death of a Georgia man who was killed while out for a run last year
9:48PM ( 16 minutes ago )
The Latest: Biden makes direct appeal to blue-collar workers
President Joe Biden is making a direct appeal to blue-collar workers as he pitches his massive spending package during his joint address to Congress
9:41PM ( 23 minutes ago )
76ers rout Hawks 127-83 to clinch playoff spot
Seth Curry scored 20 points, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid each added 17 and the Philadelphia 76ers built a big early lead and cruised to a 127-83 victory over the Atlanta Hawks to clinch an Eastern Conference playoff berth
9:36PM ( 28 minutes ago )