«…if we were able to work together at the last congress, there is no reason why we can’t work together and agree on important things at this congress.»
That’s how Joe Biden, in his first State of the Union address, urged unity in front of a divided Congress and a group of empowered Republicans gathered on the right wing of the House.
President Biden’s second State of the Union address was a vivid look back at what he accomplished during his first two years in office, when his party controlled Congress. He reported on his accomplishments in detail, in part because he is unlikely to accomplish much the rest of his first term.He spoke of better-than-expected employment numbers and a historically low unemployment rate; mentioned its legislation, which encourages cooperation with China in manufacturing chips Semiconductors, and announced a new rule requiring all federal construction projects to use American-made materials. again, america first.
Biden also outlined areas of potential bipartisanship, such as technology, health care and foreign policy.But if he showed the need for future cooperation on the one hand, he also flatly rejected Republican proposals on everything from immigration to taxes to passing Social Security and medical insuranceincreasing the likelihood of serious partisan infighting over the next two years.
So when Biden denounced the opioid crisis, Republican lawmakers yelled at him on the border; when he pointed out disapprovingly that some lawmakers wanted to repeal the Inflation Cutting Act, some Republicans applauded; When he says the Trump administration is responsible for nearly 25% of the national debt, lawmakers great old party (GOP, the sect of the Republican Party) strongly protested. Republicans interrupted and booed, and Biden alternated between indifference and disrespect.
But the president broke protocol after he made comments on the debt ceiling in which he accused Republicans of hijacking the national economy to secure cuts to Social Security and medical insurance… Republicans protest such allegations, and Biden knows how to turn his denials into a bargaining chip. «They’re saying they’re going to take away Social Security and medical insurance From the upcoming debt ceiling talks on the table? Republicans looked confused. Biden won. It was one of the strangest things about the State of the Union address, the live back and forth between the president and the Republican Party; an exchange that could affect politics. It remains to be seen though.
and foreign policy? Some hope that Biden would use the speech to lay out a possible road map for ending the conflict in Ukraine, about a year after Russia invaded Ukraine, was not heard. All he did was tout the success of the international coalition the United States helped form in defending Ukraine against Russian aggression.
«Together we did what America has always done best. We led. We united NATO and built a global alliance.»
Joe Biden said he did so in front of Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, who was the guest of honor for the second year in a row.
He also did not directly mention the incident in which the U.S. military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon, but hinted at the decision, saying «if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country.» But Biden also insisted that the United States seeks competition, not conflict, with Beijing. He did so in the face of a majority of Republicans interested in getting tougher on ensuring American technology doesn’t end up in Chinese hands and trying to cut off the flow of American capital to Chinese companies. «China is spying on us,» Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Green, R-D., yelled when Biden spoke of the rivalry between the two countries.
Certainly the Europeans, especially the French and Germans, paid great attention to the speech. These days, French and German finance ministers are in Washington addressing their concerns about the US inflation and CHIPS laws. And, of course, they have received with concern the message of economic nationalism that has been heard and applauded by Democrats and Republicans alike.
get the job done
Joe Biden also urged Republicans to help him «finish» the work of rebuilding the economy and restoring confidence in American democracy. So President Biden is threading the needle the hard way, arguing that he has achieved great success and results and that there is still much more work to be done. His restraint, therefore, appears to distill an argument in favor of his re-election. Moreover, a year into the national campaign, there are few other ways to understand the speech as part of his impending candidacy.
But polls show he has struggled to convince voters he deserves re-election despite a productive year from a legislative standpoint that has invested heavily in the economy and reduced recession fears. According to several polls, a majority of Americans believe the president accomplished «not much» or «little or nothing» in his first two years in office, that the country isn’t moving in the right direction, and that Democrats’ Percent want Biden to run for re-election.
Yet at a critical moment when the glow of better-than-expected Democratic midterm results is fading, a staunchly optimistic Biden is on stage. Although not an eloquent speaker, he sought to convey a political message of empathy and help to ordinary Americans, acknowledging that many Americans still felt anxious and far from feeling safe or prosperous. He spoke about the kind of life Americans aspire to, decent jobs, people’s discomfort and their feeling that their future has been stolen.
The State of the Union address is an important political and agenda tool for any president. For an 80-year-old chief executive, about to launch a re-election campaign and mired in low approval ratings, this is a rare opportunity to gain unfiltered access to Americans in a situation he knows so well. Biden has been underappreciated throughout his political career. He still retains the ability to connect with the public, and in the eyes of many voters, he is decent. As such, the US president delivered a majestic performance that could get at least a short-term boost. from time to time.
IMAGE: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his 2023 State of the Union address. Image: White House, via Wikimedia Commons.