Biden will propose universal pre-K, free community college, paid family leave in address to Congress

President Biden
(Image credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

President Biden's State of the Union–like address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night will have a different look: Only about 200 members of Congress are invited, they will wear masks and sit spaced apart, and Biden will be the first president to speak in front of a female vice president and female House speaker. He will update the nation on the COVID-19 fight, tout his $1.9 trillion stimulus package and other highlights of his first 100 days in office, champion his $2.3 trillion infrastructure and jobs proposal, and introduce a $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, details of which were released by the White House early Wednesday.

The American Families Plan includes about $1 trillion in spending on education and social programs plus $800 million in tax credits for the lower- and middle class, paid for by raising income and capital gains taxes on America's wealthiest households and boosting IRS enforcement against tax evasion.

The plan proposes expanding new $250-$300 monthly child tax credits through 2025; spending $200 million to offer free preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, $225 billion on subsidized childcare and paying childcare workers at least $15 an hour, and another $225 billion to create a national paid family and medical leave plan; making two-year community college free for an estimated 5.5 million students and increasing Pell Grants and subsidies for historically Black and tribal colleges; and steering $200 billion to lowering ObamaCare premiums and $45 billion to child and school nutrition programs.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

"Most of these new spending proposals are popular," Politico reports. "Taxing the rich to pay for them is also popular," but "making big changes to health care" is politically dicey and "fighting the drug lobby and the insurance industry isn't easy," which may explain Biden doesn't propose lowering the Medicare age to 60 or allowing the government to negotiate drug prices, two progressive priorities. Republicans are expected to oppose Biden's families plan.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.