Washington, DC — “President Biden may have been speaking from the U.S. Capitol tonight, but he could have been sitting at any of our kitchen tables, because he spoke from the heart, directly to the American people, particularly to those left behind or who feel invisible. He made that his North Star: making people’s lives better, in an economy that works for all, in communities that are safe for everyone and in a world where sustainable democracies can thrive over autocracies and war. Most of all, Biden challenged us to hope and dream, and to stay united. 

“His record, while still unfinished, is remarkable, and it gives us a launching pad for a more perfect union: massive job growth, the highest in a two-year period; record-low unemployment; re-imagining our manufacturing base, from electric buses to bringing back chip manufacturing; rebuilding roads, bridges and tunnels that commuters rely on; game-changing student loan forgiveness, plus critical education assistance and school safety measures that helped our students and teachers get their mojo back; and driving down drug costs and gas prices, even when it meant standing up to big pharma and big oil. This work has made a clear difference in the lives of families, regardless of where they live and who they voted for. And whether he is middle-class Joe or working-class Joe, the president stayed true to the basic value that all Americans—not just the wealthy and powerful—should feel and benefit from our country’s success. 

“But there is much more to do, and we appreciate that the president spoke with optimism, rooting for the American people, as he laid out a very ambitious agenda that started with safety and education, like paid family leave, child care and raises for the teachers who educate our kids. It’s clear that this president recognizes the promise and potential of public schooling—including using career and technical education and building pathways to career and college so more students can access opportunities at an early age—and the urgent need to address mental health, both in our schools and in our healthcare workforce, proposing important workplace and school-based programs to tackle stress and trauma, as well as stronger protections to rein in tech companies and address our kids’ privacy, health and safety online. He voiced a strong commitment to keeping our families and communities safe from violence, building on the progress already made on gun safety, and going one step further by banning assault weapons, while also making important advances in effective, accountable policing, including reissuing the call for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. And, of course, he spoke with his signature Joe Biden vision, vowing to make good on his commitment to veterans, to continue the cancer moonshot and to cure the opioid epidemic.

“And while the president was optimistic and hopeful, he was clear that there is no place for holding hostage Social Security, Medicare or the full faith and credit of the United States. And in a brilliant master class, he got everyone in the hall to agree not to make those cuts. Further, he vowed to continue to stand up for democracy and basic human rights, both at home and abroad. He reminded us that America is a story of progress and resilience, that having a strong democracy makes this possible, and that together we can deliver on a families-first agenda that makes a tangible difference in people’s lives. In true Joe Biden form, he celebrated the efforts of working people and the power of a union, urging Congress to protect collective bargaining and pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act.

“That was our president’s message tonight, and we at the AFT are grateful that he is our leader and wants to finish the job.”


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