President Biden Delivers State of the Union Address
by Andrew Smith
On March 1st, President Biden delivered his first State of the Union Address. Indeed, the President had hoped it would not come amid the most intense conflict on European soil since WWII.
Given the circumstances, Biden had to discuss Russia Ukraine and opted to open with criticism of Vladimir Putin’s actions and calculations, followed by a celebration of the strength and resolve of the Ukrainian people, to thunderous applause from the House chamber. President Biden reiterated the sanctions placed on the Russian economy, with assurances that measures would be taken to insulate Americans from the fallout and rising oil prices.
Moving on from Ukraine to what was likely the speech that was expected, Biden discussed the American Rescue Plan, celebrating economic relief and the job increase of 6.5 million. Unsurprisingly, this section of the speech ended the bipartisanship felt during the Ukraine section, with Republicans booing Biden’s criticism of the Trump Administration’s tax cuts for the wealthy and Democrats responding with a standing ovation of the Rescue Plan.
In an attempt to recapture that bipartisanship, Biden thanked Republican colleagues for support on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (13 Republicans voted in favor). The plan included financing for roads, bridges, airports, and energy and internet services.
Biden then launched into a section of the speech about decreasing everyday costs for Americans. For example, he urged the fighting of inflation with investment in and purchasing of American products and going after prescription drug companies, calling for a cap on the cost of insulin at $35 a month.
Biden followed by reiterating his intention to not increase taxes for those making less than $400,000 per year and called for an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The next topic of the night was COVID-19. Biden noted the decline in cases and new CDC guidance that allows most to no longer wear masks. The President also discussed how he’d ordered more Pfizer anti-viral pills than any other nation, with 1 million scheduled to arrive this month.
Then, moving to crime and law enforcement, Biden urged the answer was to fund the police, not defund, which elicited bipartisan applause and some criticism from more progressive members of the Democratic party.
Following this section, in a passing of the torch moment, Biden thanked Justice Stephen Breyer for his work on the Supreme Court and touted the resume of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, his recent nominee for the bench.
Finally, the President wrapped his speech up with the “Unity Agenda,” which includes beating the opioid epidemic, addressing mental health, more support for veterans in housing, jobs, and healthcare, and closing with a call to cure cancer.