Recap of President Biden’s State of the Union Address

Photo+Courtesy+of+NPR.

Photo Courtesy of NPR.

President Joe Biden delivered the annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, March 1st. The State of the Union address was held in the House of Representatives chamber of the U.S. Capitol in front of a joint session of the House and Senate. According to Article II, section 3, it is a constitutionally mandated address that the President should perform regarding the main issues confronting Americans and solutions to the nation’s problems, including proposals for new laws and policies. The most significant conflict in Europe since World War II is presently taking place, the United States is waging an isolation campaign against Russia, Americans are still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, and the U.S. economy is experiencing the worst case of inflation in decades. With a dissatisfied nation as a whole, Biden delivered his speech with the second-lowest approval rating on record, at 41 percent, behind only Donald Trump, who previously had 34 percent. In his first formal State of the Union address, President Joe Biden aimed to reassure Americans about his leadership, persuade them of his goals, and mobilize them to pursue democracy.

President Biden came forward to discuss the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia, reinforcing his beliefs in holding a Democracy over an Autocracy. He stated that the U.S. stands with Ukraine, and he emphasized this statement through a touching moment for Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova, where he allowed the audience to cheer for her and give attention to the representation for Ukraine. He reiterated that Putin’s attack was deliberate and unprovoked and that the world is united against the attacks when he said, “Putin is now isolated from the world more than he has ever been.” 

He highlighted the United States’ actions against Russia, including economic sanctions, seizing their assets, and closing airspace for Russian flights. Biden promised to continue providing humanitarian, economic, and military assistance to Ukraine. He stated, “When the history of this era is written, Putin’s war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger.” 

Biden also spoke on the issue of the economy. He acknowledges that the American public has recently faced two of the most challenging years this country has seen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted the outcome of the American Rescue Plan, which created four million jobs, caused a 2% lower unemployment, and had a 5.7 GDP growth. He reported, “The American Rescue Plan helped working people and left no one behind.” Biden discussed that the U.S.was finished “talking about infrastructure weeks” and will now move forward to an infrastructure decade to get the country on track with the rest of the world. He emphasized that investing in infrastructure will create millions of good-paying jobs. Biden also urged Congress to pass the Bipartisan Innovation Act, which will make investments in emerging technologies, American manufacturing, and innovation.

As inflation has come to burden many of the American people financially, Biden reported, “Inflation is robbing families of the gains they might otherwise feel from our growing economy. I get it. That’s why my top priority is getting prices under control.” Biden started by sympathizing with the nation but delivered a spout of economic nationalism. He proposed moving supply chains back to America instead of relying on foreign supply chains; this proposal mirrors former President Donald Trump’s favoring of state interventionism. He also wanted to cut the costs of prescription drugs, but recent presidents have attempted to with no success. Biden desires the insulin cost to be capped at $35 per month to provide easy affordability for families. Another proposal that Biden discussed was cutting energy costs for families by an average of $500 every year by combating climate change and providing investments and tax credits to weatherize homes and businesses. In addition, he wanted to double clean energy production and lower the price of electric vehicles. Lastly, he issued an initiative involving the Justice Department by creating a task force that will go after the people who took advantage of the pandemic and stole billions of dollars in relief money meant for small businesses and struggling individuals in America. 

As President Biden began speaking about the pandemic, he highlighted four “common-sense steps” to move forward from the pandemic. First, he urges the American people to stay protected with vaccines and treatments; he announced the “Test to Treat” initiative, allowing people to get tested at Pharmacies and receive antiviral medications on the spot at no cost if they are positive. Second, he reported that he would end the school and business shutdowns as he urged people to go back to the office and kids go back to school. Third, Biden has committed to continue sending vaccines to other countries in need as the United States has already sent 475 million vaccine doses worldwide. The main takeaway from his discussion on the pandemic is that he urged people to stop seeing COVID as a “partisan dividing line” and look at it for the disease that it is. “We can’t change how divided we’ve been,” Biden said, “but we can change how we move forward.” 

Biden further analyzed the policing/gun control issue and the opioid crisis. Biden stated that “investing in crime prevention and community police who know the neighborhood” works. He boldly declared, “the answer is not to defund the police; it is to fund the police.” Parkview senior Aashka Vaidya felt severely disappointed by Biden’s desire to fund the police. She felt as if “it is disgraceful to continue the narrative that pouring more money into a broken system will fix it.” 

According to the U.S. Census, the U.S. policing amounts to the third largest military in the world with a $123 billion funding. Vaidya further explained, “With the violent history of police brutality, it is a question of why the hundreds of years of policing have proven to just get worse and more corrupt with each passing year-despite all the funding that has been poured into it.” On the subject of gun control, he urged Congress to pass the legislation for universal background checks, the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and repeal the liability shield that makes the gun manufacturers the only industry that can’t be sued. He expressed, “These laws don’t infringe on the Second Amendment. They save lives.” Furthermore, to address the opioid crisis, Biden called on Congress to increase funding for prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery; to eliminate rules that stop doctors from prescribing medicines; and to “stop the flow of illicit drugs.”

Biden called on Congress multiple times throughout his address to pass legislation on voting, reproductive rights, citizenship, and social media. He urged Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the DISCLOSE Act as we come closer to the midterm elections. He also wanted Congress to protect access to healthcare and “preserve a woman’s right to choose.” Concerning citizenship, he proposed that Congress provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those on temporary visas, farmworkers, and essential workers. Finally, as a way to hold social media platforms accountable “for the national experiment they’re conducting on our children” by strengthening privacy protections, banning targeted advertisements to children, and demanding companies to halt their collections of data on children.

Parkview senior Khushi Panjwani said that her overall consensus over Biden’s State of the Union address was, “He showed a lot of promising initiatives, especially within the Ukraine and Russia crisis. However, I wished that he talked about the campaign promises he has made such as student loan forgiveness.” 

On the other hand, Parkview senior Amani Barmare felt that “Biden has proven his leadership during his address. On a rare occasion, both parties were unified during Biden’s speech. Many members applauded many of Biden’s comments on Ukraine and gave a standing ovation.” 

Biden ended his State of the Union by stating: “As hard as these times have been, I am more optimistic about America today than I have been my whole life. Because I see the future that is within our grasp. Because I know there is simply nothing beyond our capacity. The State of the Union is strong – because you, the American people, are strong. We are stronger today than we were a year ago – and we will be stronger a year from now than we are today.”