Biden Seeks Shift in How the Nation Serves Its People

He added: “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. Opening the doors of opportunity. Guaranteeing fairness and justice.”

The president, who has struggled to respond to a surge of migrants at the southwestern border since taking office, planned to promote his proposed overhaul of the immigration system, which would provide a pathway to citizens for millions of people living in the country illegally. In addition, he intended to talk about his goals to stem climate change by cutting carbon emissions in half over the next decade.

While foreign policy has not dominated his early months in office, Mr. Biden was expected to explain his decision to pull all troops out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11 after nearly 20 years of war there. And many were watching to see how he would address challenges from increasingly antagonistic adversaries like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.

But as striking as anything else in the speech was Mr. Biden’s vision of a profound pivot in America’s eternal debate about the role of government in society. Four decades after a newly inaugurated President Ronald Reagan declared that government was the problem, not the solution, Mr. Biden aimed to turn that thesis on its head, seeking to empower the federal state as a catalyst to remake the country and revamp the balance between the richest and the rest.

The “American Families Plan,” as he called his latest, $1.8 trillion proposal, would follow the “American Rescue Plan,” a $1.9 trillion package of spending on pandemic relief and economic stimulus that he has already signed into law, and the “American Jobs Plan,” a $2.3 trillion program for infrastructure, home health care and other priorities that remains pending.

The families plan introduced by Mr. Biden on Wednesday includes $1 trillion in new spending and $800 billion in tax credits. Among other things, it would finance universal prekindergarten for all 3- and 4-year-olds, a federal paid family and medical leave program, efforts to make child care more affordable, free community college for all, aid for students at colleges that historically serve nonwhite communities and expanded subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

The plan would also extend key tax cuts included as temporary measures in the original coronavirus relief package that benefit lower- and middle-income workers and families, including the child tax credit, the earned-income tax credit, and the child and dependent care tax credit.

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