In his speech on Wednesday, Mr. Biden made it clear that he aimed to be more than a blip in the history books whose greatest achievement was the unseating of his predecessor and outlined proposals to expand family leave, child care, health care, preschool and college education for millions of people. His ambitious plans, if passed, could make him a transformational figure in American history.
He called his $2 trillion infrastructure plan a “once-in-a-generation investment in America itself,” noting that it was the largest jobs plan since World War II, and said that while he welcomed Republican ideas, “doing nothing is not an option.”
“The American Jobs Plan will be the biggest increase in nondefense research and development on record,” he said.
Mr. Biden’s advisers often say his presidency will rise or fall based on the number of vaccine shots in arms and relief checks that show up in bank accounts. On Wednesday night, Mr. Biden indicated that he believed he was winning on the mark that was likely to matter most to Americans watching at home.
He bragged that he beat his goal of 100 million vaccine shots in his first 100 days. “We will have provided over 220 million Covid shots in 100 days,” Mr. Biden said, noting that nearly 70 percent of seniors were now fully protected from the virus, up from just 1 percent who were vaccinated when he was sworn in.
Even with his administration’s progress on vaccine distribution, a large percentage of Americans are hesitant to get the vaccine. If it takes too long to reach “herd immunity,” the point at which the spread of the virus slows, worrisome new variants could emerge that evade the vaccine and slow the progress made so far.
Mr. Biden did not mention those looming challenges on Wednesday night. Instead, he focused on more optimistic statistics. “Today, 90 percent of Americans now live within five miles of a vaccination site,” he said, noting that everyone over the age of 16 is now eligible for a vaccine.