Speed Reads

Biden's joint address

Biden's ambitious push to expand government was 'deliberately boring,' Ted Cruz complains

President Biden address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night was "the most ambitious ideological statement made by any Democratic president in decades — couched in language that made it sound as if he wasn't making an ideological argument at all," Politico's John Harris writes. "Though rarely described as gifted orator, Biden's speech was a remarkable performance in part because it didn't soar and largely didn't even try to. In plain-spoken language, he depicted a breathtakingly large agenda as plain common sense."

Or as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) groused after the speech, which he appears to have nodded off during, "Biden is deliberately being boring, but the substance of what he is saying is radical."

Biden has spent or proposed, in his first 100 days in office, $6 trillion in federal spending, meted out "in drips and drabs," Politico's Playbook reports. "Wednesday night was the first time he detailed it all together in one place and before the largest potential audience that a president gets: an address to Congress," and "that could be a bad thing for him." Unlike during the first year of the past two Democratic presidents, "the GOP has so far been ineffective as an opposition party in the face of this spending onslaught," Politico says, adding:

There are a lot of theories about all of this: The pandemic and Donald Trump's own big spending have made it safe for big government; the GOP is divided and in turmoil since the events of Jan. 6 and obsessed with culture wars rather than government spending; an old white guy like Biden is a tough target for the right, anyway, and staying off the tube has made him even more difficult to demonize. But on Wednesday night he was center stage — and so was the size and cost of his proposals. [Politico]

Biden knows he has to get things done quickly, but he "simultaneously has the tightest congressional margins and one of the most ambitious agendas," Politico notes. "He's trying to push a rhinoceros through a garden hose. If doing that requires political stealth, then Wednesday night's speech may backfire." Read more at Politico Playbook.