Is Joe Biden ready to be President?

US President Biden in front of Congress: "America is ready to take off"

In his first speech to both chambers of congress, Joe Biden speaks of his "American job plan", the fight against climate change and right-wing extremism as the greatest terrorist threat to the USA.

In his first speech to Congress, US President Joe Biden cast an optimistic view of the future and promoted his reform plans. "America is on the move again," he said on the eve of the 100th day in office to MPs and senators. The USA would have to invest massively in infrastructure, research and education in order to defend its international leadership role. Biden also affirmed that he would not seek any conflicts with China and Russia.

"The rest of the world is not waiting for us," said Biden on Wednesday evening (local time) - and called on the opposition Republicans to work with him on his plans for a gigantic infrastructure package. "We can't be so busy competing with each other that we forget about competing with the rest of the world for the 21st century."

His "American Job Plan" called infrastructure package with a volume of around two trillion dollars (1.7 trillion euros) will make the USA fit for the future, "create millions of well-paid jobs" and at the same time make an important contribution to the fight against climate change afford, said Biden. The president assured him that he was open to suggestions from the Republicans that met resistance. "But doing nothing is not an option."

Family plan and police reform

Biden also promoted his new reform proposal for an "American Family Plan". The $ 1.8 trillion package provides more funding for preschool and higher education and tax breaks for families. This is to be financed through higher taxes for the rich. The rich would have to "pay their fair share," said Biden in his one-hour speech to Congress.

Biden also advocated extensive police reform following the violent death of African American George Floyd less than a year ago and tightening gun law following a series of firearm attacks in recent months. Against this background, Biden also emphasized that it is now important to overcome structural racism. The greatest terrorist threat to his country is right-wing extremist terrorism, according to the US President. The US intelligence services came to this conclusion.

The Legacy of a "Nation in Crisis"

Biden succeeded Republican Donald Trump in the White House on January 20. In his speech, the 78-year-old said he had inherited "a nation in crisis". "The worst pandemic in a century. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The worst attack on our democracy since the civil war."

The president referred to the corona pandemic, the historic economic crisis it triggered with millions of unemployed and the attack by radical Trump supporters on the Capitol on January 6th. "100 days ago America's house was on fire," said Biden. Now the USA are already "taking off" again: "We are working again, dreaming again, rediscovering, leading the world again."

Biden boasted success in the fight against the corona pandemic. Since the beginning of his tenure, 220 million vaccine doses have been injected, and more than half of adults in the United States have already received at least one vaccine dose. This is one of the "greatest logistical achievements" in US history.

Defend America's interests

The US president also commented on foreign policy. He told Chinese leader Xi Jinping that the US welcomed "competition" with China and "is not looking for a conflict," he said, but he "made it absolutely clear that we will defend America's interests."

To the address of Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said that the US was “not looking for an escalation”, but at the same time made it clear that “its actions will have consequences”. The US recently imposed new sanctions on Russia and expelled several diplomats over alleged Russian interference in US elections and a large-scale hacker attack.

Biden wants to realign the relationship between the USA and its rivals China and Russia. He takes a hard line on conflict issues, but at the same time seeks cooperation on issues such as climate protection and arms control.

US presidents traditionally give an annual speech to Congress. From the second year in office, the address will be referred to as the State of the Union Address.

Talk in times of Corona

Biden's speech took place under special conditions due to the Corona crisis. Only around 200 members of parliament, senators, members of the government and other guests were invited. Usually around 1,600 guests gather for speeches by the President in Congress. After the Capitol was stormed around three and a half months ago, strict safety precautions also apply.

Two women behind Biden were a historic premiere: Vice President Kamala Harris in her role as Senate President and the Chairwoman of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi. The two congress leaders traditionally sit behind the president when he gives his speech in the Capitol. For the first time in US history, two women have held these posts.

(APA / AFP / Red.)