Joe Biden will take a swipe at Wall Street in his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, as he tries to build support among Americans for his multitrillion-dollar economic agenda.
According to excerpts of his remarks released by the White House on Wednesday, Biden will make a strong pitch for his $2.3tn infrastructure spending bill, which he wants to be funded with higher corporate taxes that have elicited a backlash from business.
“The Americans Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America,” Biden will say. “It recognises something I’ve always said: Wall Street didn’t build this country. The middle class built this country. And unions built the middle class.”
During his speech, Biden is also expected to promote a new $1.8tn investment package focused on expanding America’s social safety net, in areas including paid leave, childcare, healthcare and education. Biden and his team want to pay for the plan with tax increases for wealthy Americans that have triggered opposition from some working in financial services.
Biden’s speech, which will come on the eve of his 100th day in office, is also expected to tout the passage of his $1.9tn fiscal stimulus package in March and a rapid vaccination rollout as evidence that he delivered on his campaign pledge to restore competence and decency to the White House after four years of Donald Trump.
“I can report to the nation: America is on the move again. Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength,” Biden will say. “We have acted to restore the people’s faith in our democracy. We’re vaccinating the nation. We’re creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. We’re delivering real results people can see and feel in their own lives.”
Biden’s remarks will be delivered in the US Capitol at 9pm Eastern Daylight Time without the usual packed audience of lawmakers and senior government officials because the number of attendees has been limited due to coronavirus restrictions.
The US president’s criticism of Wall Street echoes his presidential campaign, during which he promised to “reward work, not wealth” by prioritising low and middle-income household over richer families.
However, presidents delivering primetime addresses in front of Congress and the nation tend to choose their words carefully. Biden’s focus on the financial services industry and its wealthiest customers signals his belief that he can win public support for trillions of dollars of investment as long as they are funded by taxes targeted at large companies and the rich.