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Here are four guiding principles to understand Biden's first 100 days

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House on April 15, 2021.
President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House on April 15, 2021.Andrew Harnik / AP file

WASHINGTON — As President Joe Biden addresses Congress tonight on his 99th day in office, and as he proposes a new $1.8 trillion plan for universal preschool and free community college, we’ve come up with four ways to understand his presidency so far.

  1. He pursues popular programs: $1,400 checks. Improvements for roads and bridges. Elderly care. Free community college over student-loan forgiveness. Increased taxes on corporations and the wealthy. You can tell that Biden and his team read polls, and they’re usually picking policy items that begin with 60 percent support or more.
  2. He’s avoiding fights he doesn’t think he can win: When you realize that Republicans members of Congress will oppose these plans — no matter their popularity — you don’t want to increase your number of political enemies. And that’s one way to explain why Biden’s $1.8 trillion plan for families does not include lowering prescription drug prices (hello, PhRMA) or reducing Medicare’s eligibility age (hello, health insurance industry).
  3. He’s going big: A $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan (instead of that Senate GOP counteroffer of $600 billion). A $2 trillion infrastructure plan (instead of the Senate GOP’s $568 billion proposal). And now this $1.8 trillion plan for American families. When in doubt, Biden goes big.
  4. He’s flooding the zone: Finally, Biden is proposing so much right now, he’s essentially flooding the zone with policy proposals. That’s maybe the best way to understand today’s $1.8 trillion preschool/community college plan when his infrastructure/jobs plan hasn’t even started moving through Congress.

So as Biden addresses Congress (and the nation) tonight, keep these four principles in mind.

He knows he has essentially one year to get legislation through Congress, and then he has three years left to defend it.

What to expect in Biden’s speech tonight

Racial justice also will be a significant topic in Biden’s speech tonight, NBC’s Mike Memoli, Carol E. Lee, Peter Alexander, Kristen Welker and Shannon Pettypiece report.

“The connection Biden made with the Floyd family will be the centerpiece of that part of his speech, with Biden invoking the words of Floyd’s daughter to him when he met her last summer: ‘Daddy changed the world.’ And he’ll make what one official called an ‘effusive push’ for the legislation that now bears his name, hoping to add momentum to bipartisan negotiations aimed at pushing the House-passed bill through the Senate.”

Another theme that Biden is expected to address is a government that works.

“The 100-day benchmark he set, raised and achieved for vaccinations may have been criticized for not being overly ambitious, but Americans’ perception of government is at such a low point that the president and his team felt it was nonetheless important to demonstrate it could do what it sets out to do.”

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Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

$1.8 trillion: The price tag on Biden’s new American Families Plan to invest in universal preschool, free community college and expanded access to child care.

$100: The amount of a savings bond young West Virginians will receive if they get vaccinated, under a new plan in the state.

32,328,939: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 52,422 more than yesterday morning.)

576,763: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 666 more than yesterday morning.)

232,407,669: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.

26.7 percent: The share of Americans who are fully vaccinated.

1: The number of days left for Biden to reach his 100-day vaccination goal.

The first recall as tragedy. The second recall as farce

It’s not just Caitlyn Jenner running for California governor in the state’s all-but certain recall election. Or former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Or 2018 GOV nominee John Cox.

You might also have Hollywood’s Randy Quaid.

“On Tuesday, ‘National Lampoon’ actor Randy Quaid said he's ‘seriously considering running for governor.’ He cited among his reasons ‘prosecutorial corruption’ in Santa Barbara — where he and his wife twice faced criminal charges related to a 2009 unpaid hotel bill and a 2010 guest house stay,” Politico writes.

More from NBC News: “Former adult film actor Mary Carey, who ran in 2003 when Gov. Gray Davis was recalled, announced her intention to run this month, and Los Angeles billboard queen Angelyne, who also ran in 2003, has added her name to the list.”

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Here’s what you need to know about Biden’s big speech to Congress at 9:00 pm ET tonight.

Republican Tim Scott will give the GOP response.

Biden has spent his first 100 days serving as the nation’s consoler-in-chief, NBC’s Mike Memoli and Alex Seitz-Wald write.

Kevin McCarthy won’t say if Liz Cheney should remain in GOP leadership.

A New York Post reporter is resigning after writing a false story claiming that copies of Kamala Harris’s book were being given out to migrant children.

Biden will start naming high-profile ambassadors as early as this week, per the Washington Post.