After a 98-day stay at the White House, President Joe Biden held his first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. Deputy editor-in-chief David Mastio and comment editor Jill Lawrence watched the 65-minute speech and had incredibly different reactions to what the president said.
David: Donald Trump is gone, but Washington is still stuck on the abnormal. Joe Biden has regained low competence and with it a sense of calm, but I still can’t wrap myself around a speech at a joint session of Congress focused on plans to spend $ 6 trillion and change on a regular budget. .
Biden’s speech tonight made it all seem so reasonable and normal. His tone was folk and quiet. He repeated only one lie from the Washington Post list Biden’s first 100 days of misleading claims. But at its core, Biden has proposed a cradle for serious liberalism that is shocking in its ambition. From preschoolers for 3- and 4-year-olds to grandma’s home care, every stage of life can be improved by a bunch of federal greats. And we can afford it all without sacrifice. We just need big business and the rich to pay their “fair share” and stop cheating taxes.
These are lonely tunes. The U.S. rescue plan, the U.S. employment plan, and the U.S. family plan must inevitably have costs, unintended consequences, and downtime. Federal money always comes with a thread. If Biden manages, we’ll fix the wreckage for decades.
Jill: I’ve experienced the same contrast in style and content as you, but where you see a shockingly ambitious liberal agenda, I see a popular corrective to decades of neglect. Decades of starvation against the government and the enrichment of the rich, neglecting structural racism, gun violence, immigration problems and income inequality, are so serious that it undermines our ownership of upward mobility and the American dream.
If Biden does half of this, and I hope he achieves all of that, he will have FIXED decades of wreckage.
It is absolutely refreshing to hear a Democrat just stand for it and argue why each component is reasonable and necessary for the future of our families and the state as a whole. Just as Republicans did when they kept talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act while Barack Obama was president.
I understand that Biden’s plans are expensive, but a lot can be paid for by restoring a fairer tax system. And, of course, the economic growth that Republicans always promise, but rarely if they ever achieve it. Biden’s plans must work better than the hooded economy. They help people who need help, not those who are already wealthy and usually forget to drop something.
David: Decades of neglect? Eight of the last 12 years have been under a Democratic president who had Joe Biden as vice president. Did Obama neglect America when the Affordable Care Act reshaped nearly a fifth of the U.S. economy?
What you see as decades of neglect, I see as decades of democratic political defeats. Republicans did not ignore gun violence, they refused to adhere to the Democrats’ agenda to diminish gun rights. Republicans did not neglect immigration, they approached it from a radically different point of view than Democrats. Under Trump, it was certainly the wrong approach, but it was all just not neglect. Biden’s victory was small and there was no rejection by Republicans on their key issues.
Biden’s speech challenge: Sell America according to your plans, define your heritage
I fear that Biden took office with the votes of Americans who thought he was a moderate and modest choice in the democratic field. They now reveal that he went far to the left of where Democrats were under two previous Democratic presidents. This will reunite the right, still under the control of Donald Trump, and turn off Biden’s support at the center leading to a democratic catastrophe in the 2022 House and Senate elections.
The reason I voted for Biden was in the hope that he would keep the far left of the Democrats long enough to unite the country through several election cycles and help cleanse the Republican Party of trampism. After this speech I see that I am unlucky.
Jill: Republicans are thwarting democratic attempts to deal with neglect, working hard to ensure that people who tend to vote for Democrats are punished as much as possible within a system of government that puts them at a structural disadvantage from the outset.
The two parties have not always clashed over immigration reform and weapons measures such as universal past checks. They did not always clash with health care. The ACA was based on conservative ideas such as personal responsibility, competition, and the preservation of private health insurance. But Obama hasn’t gotten anywhere trying to reach a compromise, and Democrats may not like spending too much time trying with people who won’t tell the truth about Biden’s fair and square victory in 2020 or directly condemn the catastrophic, deadly January 6 Capitol attack. Understandably, they are ready to achieve as much as they can as fast as they can.
I see this as making up for lost ground. You see it as the destruction of America. At this point, I think all we can agree on is that Biden is obviously comfortable in this business and that he is convincingly competent to do so. At 78, he projected strength and care and, finally, normalcy. I know it’s a small consolation for conservatives. Now you know how the Liberals felt in the years since the Republicans decided that politics was a zero-sum game and crowned Donald Trump as their leader.