By Congressman James E. Clyburn (D-SC)
President Biden has completed the first 100-days milestone that has been used since Franklin Roosevelt to assess new presidents’ progress towards keeping their campaign promises and their prospects for having a successful presidency. So far, in my estimation, Joe Biden is keeping his promises and succeeding in getting the country back on track in our “pursuit of a more perfect union.”
It was much more than a political assessment when I declared 15 months ago that “we know Joe, and most importantly, Joe knows us.” Joe Biden is succeeding because of he understands the needs and aspirations of the American people. His bold and inclusive initiatives are restoring the faith of those who have been hardest hit by the current health and economic crises and raising the hopes of those who had already been hard hit by injustices in our society long before these crises struck.
After a plethora of Executive Orders on his first day in office, President Biden’s first legislative success was the American Rescue Plan (ARP). The ARP enjoys 77% support among all voters, including 59% of Republican voters. It has put America on a path of fully reopening safely. It has helped make hundreds of millions of vaccines available, and it has stabilized millions of American families. It has kept many small businesses from closing, and, when fully implemented, will lift more than half of the nation’s poverty-laden children out of poverty.
The Administration’s top priority for the next 100 days is passing the comprehensive American Jobs Plan (AJP). The AJP will create good-paying jobs by investing in our long-neglected infrastructure. President Biden recognizes that infrastructure now includes the information highway, and his proposal will bring affordable, high-speed internet to every home. His plan also includes investments in green energy technology and other research innovations that will help America build a forward-looking economy that will provide sustainable economic growth.
President Biden is also proposing to invest in our country’s human infrastructure through another transformative initiative supporting the bedrock of our nation’s foundation—families. His American Families Plan (AFP) will stabilize and uplift families by extending the child tax credit enhancement, supporting childcare workers and families who pay for childcare, providing universal pre-K, making two years of community college free, and expanding access to quality, affordable health care. These proposals will reduce systemic barriers that have prevented low-income and many communities of color from fully enjoying the greatness of our great nation.
The American people overwhelmingly support the President’s agenda. One recent poll found 68% of Americans support the AJP, and 64% are in favor of the AFP. These numbers far exceed the margin of Biden’s election victory. These numbers refute critics who claim President Biden’s agenda is too progressive and has no support among Republicans.
It is wrongheaded to view bipartisanship through the lens of 212 Republican House Members and 50 Republican Senators. I hope Republican Members will listen more closely to the American people, Democrats and Republicans. But if they fail to do so, Democrats will unilaterally act to serve and protect Americans irrespective of political persuasions.
Following President Biden’s first speech to a joint session of Congress, we all heard the partisan Republican opposition to his agenda led by Senator Tim Scott from my home state of South Carolina. Unable to debate the merits of President Biden’s proposals, Senator Scott instead focused on the price tag and racial issues. He and his partisans never questioned the cost of the $1.9 trillion tax cut for the wealthiest Americans and corporations under the previous president. Their tax cut for the wealthy increased the national debt and exploded the deficit. It is becoming clear to the American people that their fiscal restraint is more about who is benefiting from government spending than the amount of money being spent.
President Biden fully pays for both the American Jobs and Families Plans. He is asking wealthy Americans and corporations to pay their fair share. President Biden, and all of us, applaud their successes made possible by America’s greatness. But it is time for that greatness to be accessible and affordable for all.
Joe Biden has already demonstrated that he intends to keep the promises he made during the campaign. He is relating to people in a personal way and is proposing policies that will directly address the needs of individuals, their families, and their communities. He is not putting a price tag on the American dream. He is making investments to help all Americans realize their dreams. I believe this approach is truly transformational in its potential for dramatic progress toward liberty and justice for all.