5 takeaways from President Biden's first address to Congress
April 29, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 22.9%. 2 min read.
President Joe Biden made a sweeping case Wednesday for massive new programs that would transform the government's role in Americans' lives, claiming the very future of the country is at stake in his first address to Congress.
(CNN)President Joe Biden made a sweeping case Wednesday for massive new programs that would transform the government's role in Americans' lives, claiming the very future of the country is at stake in his first address to Congress.
In Biden's telling, the results of those efforts could determine whether American Democracy survives at all: a live-or-die proposition that escalated his calls for trillions of dollars in new spending into an existential question for his audience of lawmakers.
For more than 40 years — and after two failed presidential bids — Biden watched as the House Sergeant at Arms announced another president into the House chamber for speeches to Congress.
Yet if anything, Biden's speech reflected a distinct impatience, now that he is in office, to wait long to see his agenda passed.
Biden, who has been waiting decades to make the speech he delivered Wednesday, made clear he could not wait while the moment slipped past.
"I stand here tonight before you in a new and vital hour in the life of our democracy and our nation," Biden said as he neared closing.
If there was one argument animating Biden's speech -- and his entire presidency to date -- is that more government, when working right, can improve Americans' lives.
In our first 100 days together, we have acted to restore the people's faith in our democracy to deliver," Biden said in his speech.
It's a distant cry from President Bill Clinton's declaration in his 1996 State of the Union that "the era of big government is over. " Speaking from the same podium 25 years later, Biden seemed to argue the exact opposite: that now is the time for big government to return -- and with it the chance to prove that it's still working.
Polls, including a CNN survey conducted by SSRS, show a majority of Americans approve of Biden's job performance at this stage in his presidency.
There was little question the coronavirus pandemic would occupy a major part of Biden's speech.
But even had Biden said nothing about the pandemic, the scenery on Wednesday provided a constant reminder of the ongoing crisis.
If the most glaring symbol was the pandemic-altered room, the most historic was the tableau behind Biden: for the first time, two women were seated in the spots reserved for the vice president and House speaker.
No president has ever said those words from this podium — no president has ever said those words — and it's about time," Biden said at the start of his address.
"The autocrats will not win the future," Biden said as he concluded his speech.
But even if national security wasn't at the heart of the speech, Biden would likely argue it was there in more existential form.