President Joe Biden could have celebrated his 100th day in office almost anywhere, but he chose to celebrate in Georgia with two of his favorite Georgians, Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
Her runoff victories in January helped achieve a slim Democratic majority in Congress, without which Biden would have found it much harder to get items on his agenda.
“We’re especially grateful to the people of Georgia,” said Biden at a drive-in rally Thursday at Duluth’s Infinite Energy Center. “Because of you, because of your two senators, the rest of America was able to get the help they’ve got so far. The American rescue plan would not have passed. So much of what we’ve done like getting people’s checks probably wouldn’t have happened. So if you ever wonder if elections make a difference, think about what you did here, Georgia. “
Much of Biden’s approximately 20-minute speech repeated parts of his address to a joint congressional session the night before, pointing to his successes to date and describing his vision for the next part of his term in office.
Regarding the latter, the president tabled two massive spending plans, beginning with a $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure overhaul, the American employment plan he described as the largest employment plan in the country since World War II.
Biden said his plan will help replace roads, bridges and airports, as well as remove obsolete and dangerous lead water pipes.
The second part of Biden’s plan, which the White House unveiled Wednesday, would provide money for universal pre-K, two years of free community college, and capping the cost of childcare.
“Not only do we have to invest in America, we also have to invest in our families, we have to invest in things that our families care about and need most,” said Biden.
About 60% of 4-year-olds in Georgia were enrolled in a lottery-funded state Pre-K program in 2020, placing Georgia in 8th place nationwide for 4-year-old access, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.
While Georgia’s Pre-K program is in many ways a model for other states, not every eligible child could participate, said Mindy Binderman, executive director of the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students.
“We know there are somewhere between 4,500 and 5,000 4-year-olds who have been regularly on waiting lists in Georgia for the past few years,” she said. “So, first and foremost, we hope that we will continue to work on tracking all four-year-olds whose families want them to go to preschool.”
Biden’s plan is to expand access to three-year-olds who are currently not eligible for a Georgia state preschool. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia offer state-sponsored preschool for 3-year-olds.
The plan also envisages a tiered payment system for childcare that would represent a maximum of 7% of income for low- and middle-income families, according to the White House.
In Atlanta, some parents say they pay up to 40% of their income for childcare, Binderman said.
Georgia has a federally funded childcare program that is available to families reaching 85% of the median income or less – about $ 64,700 for a Georgia family of four. If Biden’s plan made it through Congress, it would extend that to families earning 150% of the median income in the state, about $ 114,000 for a Georgia family of four.
Families in this area would pay no more than 7% of their income for childcare.
Biden said he will pay for his plan with a tax on top earners and renewed his promise not to levy taxes on anyone making less than $ 400,000 a year.
Biden’s visit to Georgia included an earlier stay in Plains with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden to visit former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter.
Biden came to town to thank Georgians for voting blue in the last election, but he’s also thinking about the next election, said Charles Bullock, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia.
Warnock is up for re-election next November, and if he is defeated, Biden will likely have to get out of his majority.
“Warnock is the biggest target,” said Bullock. “He’s one of only two nationwide Democrats in office, and the other doesn’t have to stand for six years. Democrats want to re-elect Warnock. On top of that, they can hope for the governor, lieutenant governor, foreign secretary and other positions, but if they lose Warnock it may not be zero again, but they have certainly been pushed back quite on the heels. ”
Biden faced an overwhelmingly friendly crowd, although his speech was briefly interrupted by a group of demonstrators shouting “Arrest Now” and “Abolish ICE”.
“I’ll agree with you. I’m working on it, man, give me five more days,” Biden said.
Biden signed an executive order that phased out private prisons but did not extend to Immigration and Customs (ICE).
Rather than criticizing Biden’s proposals, Georgia Republicans focused on binding him to Major League Baseball’s decision to move their all-star game out of Georgia after the state’s controversial electoral law was passed.
“Joe Biden’s first 100 days were disastrous for Peach State,” said Savannah Viar, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. “He lied about our latest Electoral Integrity Act and bullied various organizations to boycott the state – by stealing millions of dollars from small businesses in Georgia. Between Joe Biden, Raphael Warnock and Stacey Abrams, Georgians deserve better than this failed democratic leadership. “
In his remarks, Biden briefly discussed the electoral law.
“You saw what happened to the laws of your state here in Georgia. It’s just wrong, ”he said. “And so we have to pass the voting rights protection laws that are coming through Congress, HR 1, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Both should be passed now.”