5 takeaways from Biden’s State of the Union address : NPR


U.S. President Biden delivers the State of the Union handle earlier than a joint session of Congress within the U.S. Capitol Home Chamber on Tuesday.

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U.S. President Biden delivers the State of the Union handle earlier than a joint session of Congress within the U.S. Capitol Home Chamber on Tuesday.

Pool/Getty Photos

President Biden’s first formal State of the Union handle centered on Ukraine, inflation, the coronavirus pandemic and a four-point “Unity Agenda.”

He urged world unity in standing as much as Russia, listed methods he is attempting to handle rising costs (even when they may probably have restricted to no impact within the brief time period) and provided an optimistic outlook in regards to the finish of the pandemic.

Biden made point out of some progressive coverage gadgets, comparable to the necessity for sturdy voting-rights laws and stood up for transgender and abortion rights (whereas leaving out another matters comparable to local weather change).

And he additionally touted a few of his accomplishments of his first yr, such because the COVID reduction invoice and the bipartisan infrastructure invoice. However the speech’s emphasis on lots of Biden’s centrist coverage positions, like not defunding the police, was a transparent selection in an election yr. It was reminiscent, in some methods, of Invoice Clinton’s 1995 State of the Union handle made after Republicans’ historic positive aspects within the 1994 midterm elections.

Listed below are 5 takeaways from Biden’s handle to Congress:

1. This was a way more unified-looking Congress (for probably the most half) than in previous years.

Watchers of State of the Union addresses are fairly used to seeing, actually seeing, partisan applause traces. One half of the viewers – the president’s celebration – often stands and applauds for many issues, whereas the opposite half – the opposition celebration – sits quietly or… voices their displeasure.

However for probably the most half, Tuesday night time, the temper was extra unified. And that is due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian blue and gold was a hard-to-miss image of unity in a deeply polarized Congress with a number of members donning blue-and-gold flags and lapel pins.

The president’s defiant tone on the disaster elicited a number of moments of bipartisan applause, one thing uncommon on this partisan age. That’s, in fact, except for some ordinary suspects.

2. Biden painted an optimistic portrait of life after COVID.

One other putting visible was the absence of masks on this speech within the age of COVID. It was an indication of the eagerness that Individuals really feel in wanting to maneuver previous the pandemic, and the president was cautiously optimistic.

Biden known as for folks to get vaccinated, for youngsters to get vaccinated and for manufacturing and distribution of antiviral tablets to guard weak folks. He additionally forcefully known as for the nation to get again to work, to “fill our downtowns” and to maintain colleges open.

On the similar time, in contrast to final July when he was near declaring independence from the pandemic, solely to be derailed by lethal variants, Biden mentioned, “I can not promise a brand new variant will not come. However I can promise you we’ll do all the pieces inside our energy to be prepared if it does.”

On Wednesday, the White Home is about to announce a brand new roadmap for transferring ahead on the pandemic.

3. He tried to empathize on inflation, however delivered a wholesome dose of financial nationalism.

Biden tried to say he understands that inflation is pinching a number of Individuals. “I grew up in a household the place if the worth of meals went up, you felt it,” the president mentioned, earlier than stating that that is why he pushed to go the COVID reduction invoice.

It was virtually as if the White Home had learn the NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist ballot, which requested Individuals what they thought needs to be Biden’s prime precedence. Far and away, the highest reply was inflation.

“I get it,” he mentioned. “That is why my prime precedence is getting costs below management.”

Biden laid out a kitchen-sink method. He mentioned he approved releasing oil from the strategic petroleum reserve; he spoke out in opposition to worth gouging; and known as for the affirmation of his Federal Reserve Board nominees. He additionally took a nationalistic flip, selling making merchandise in America.

“Decrease your prices, not your wages,” he urged corporations. “Make extra vehicles and semiconductors in America. Extra infrastructure and innovation in America. Extra items transferring sooner and cheaper in America. Extra jobs the place you may earn a superb dwelling in America. And as an alternative of counting on overseas provide chains, let’s make it in America.”

You could possibly virtually hear the chants of, “USA! USA! USA!”

All that’s supposed to indicate he is on it, however historically merchandise made within the U.S. are dearer due to the labor prices disparity between the usand different nations, comparable to China. Delivery prices are presently excessive, so there’s an argument that now is an efficient time to make a transition to creating extra at residence.

However there is not a lot a president can do to curb inflation within the brief time period. He has to hope because the pandemic recedes, inflation goes together with it.

4. Biden touted his accomplishments and punched again in opposition to Republican assaults.

The speech struck a unifying tone early on, however Biden obtained in his digs on Republicans, too, whereas boasting of his first-year legislative accomplishments.

“In contrast to the $2 trillion tax lower handed within the earlier administration that benefitted the highest 1% of Individuals,” Biden mentioned, “the American Rescue Plan helped working folks — and left nobody behind. And it labored. It labored. It created jobs. A number of jobs.”

Speaking in regards to the bipartisan infrastructure invoice, Biden thanked Republicans who voted for it, however obtained this in on former President Trump. “We’re accomplished speaking about infrastructure weeks,” he mentioned. “We’ll have an infrastructure decade.”

On this period of unabashed base politics, Biden must shore his up. The most recent NPR ballot discovered Biden missing in his depth of help. The White Home has to hope a few of this rhetoric – and delight – might help with that.

5. Not fairly “triangulation,” however getting shut.

Cowed by sweeping Republican positive aspects within the earlier yr’s midterm – and with an eye fixed to his personal re-election – former President Clinton gave a State of the Union handle in 1995 that sought center floor.

Biden definitely tried to hunt out a center path that centered on what he known as a “Unity Agenda” with 4 elements – beating the opioid epidemic, taking over psychological well being, supporting veterans and ending “most cancers as we all know it.”

Past that, simply take a look at how he talked in regards to the police. All through his marketing campaign, Biden broke from liberals in his celebration and known as for extra funding of police. He emphasised that once more on Tuesday night time.

“Let’s not abandon our streets – or select between security and equal justice,” Biden mentioned, including, “We must always all agree: the reply is to not defund the police. The reply is to fund the police. Fund them with the assets and coaching they should shield our communities.”

Biden has been struggling with independents, a gaggle he received within the 2020 presidential election, and Republicans have been attempting to model him a socialist beholden to the left-wing of his celebration.

This was clearly an try to push again in opposition to that and attraction to moderates at a time when most of the points hampering him are out of his management.

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