Five Highlights from Biden’s 2023 State of the Union Address
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden delivered the annual State of the Union address, his second since becoming president. During the speech, he outlined his policy goals and highlighted his achievements as he considers running for a second term in office.
This was the first time President Biden delivered the State of the Union speech to a divided Congress, with the Senate controlled by Democrats and the House of Representatives controlled by Republicans. Despite the division, Biden focused on his strong economic record and spoke about his accomplishments in infrastructure spending, clean energy, and prescription drug pricing.
With millions of viewers tuning in to State of the Union speeches each year, this year’s address was a significant platform for the 80-year-old president, as he looks ahead to the 2024 presidential election.
The speech was sometimes feisty, with members of Congress heckling the president. However, despite the division, President Biden remained focused on his message and the key achievements he has made during his time in office.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from this year’s State of the Union speech:
Continuing Trump’s China Policy
In his Tuesday speech, President Biden addressed tensions with China and warned against any threat to US sovereignty. In the week leading up to the speech, headlines were dominated by reports of a suspected Chinese spy balloon flying over the US.
Despite the current state of relations between the two countries, Biden emphasized that the US is not seeking confrontation with China. He referred to actions taken to shoot down the balloon as evidence of the US’s willingness to defend its sovereignty.
Biden continued the foreign policy approach of his predecessor, Donald Trump, by prioritizing competition with China. He stated that winning this competition should bring unity among Americans.
“As we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country — and we did,” Biden said. “Let’s be clear: Winning the competition should unite all of us.”
Appeal to unite the divided house
In his speech, President Biden called on Republicans to work with him and condemned the practice of “fighting for the sake of fighting”. He pointed out that Democrats and Republicans have already proven the naysayers wrong by passing laws with bipartisan support, such as the Respect for Marriage Act.
Biden also urged Republicans to cooperate with him in the ongoing negotiations over increasing the debt ceiling. He criticized some Republicans for trying to hold the economy hostage and called for them to reconsider their stance.
Despite his appeals for cooperation, it is unlikely that many of the priorities outlined in Biden’s speech will be advanced under the Republican-controlled House led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy. This includes police reform and a proposed “billionaire minimum tax”.
Prior to the 2022 midterm elections, the US economy, hampered by inflation, was seen as a potential weakness for the Democrats. However, Biden’s Democratic Party managed to prevent a widely expected Republican “red wave.”
During his State of the Union speech, Biden emphasized his economic accomplishments, highlighting the low unemployment rates, infrastructure investments, and a resurgence of American manufacturing. He stated that the US is on track to reverse the trend of outsourcing factory jobs overseas.
Biden expressed that there is no reason why America cannot lead the world in manufacturing, and praised the 2021 bipartisan law that provided $1.2 trillion for revitalizing the country’s infrastructure. He mentioned that the US had previously fallen to 13th in the world in terms of modern infrastructure, but the recent infrastructure law, the largest investment since President Eisenhower’s interstate highway system, would help bring the US back to the top.
Taxation and Cap on the cost of Insulin
President Biden unveiled a plan to revitalize the US economy and tackle the climate crisis, funded by making the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share in taxes. He stated, “I believe in capitalism, but it has to be fair.” The President emphasized his administration’s efforts to combat junk fees imposed on consumers by big corporations and said, “Capitalism without competition is exploitation.” Biden also called for a cap on the cost of insulin at $35 for all Americans, declaring, “Let’s make sure everyone can afford this essential medication, without being taken advantage of by Big Pharma.”
Ban on Assault Weapons
In his speech, Biden paid tribute to the parents of Tyre Nichols, a Black man who was beaten to death by police in Memphis, Tennessee, and called for reforms in law enforcement. He stated that law enforcement must be held accountable when they violate the public trust and that better training and higher standards are needed. Despite Republican criticisms, Biden struck a balance between supporting law enforcement and reducing police violence, while also calling for more resources to address mental health, substance abuse, and violent crime. He also strongly advocated for the revival of the 1994 ban on semi-automatic “assault weapons” to address the ongoing problem of mass shootings in the US. “Ban assault weapons now, once and for all,” Biden firmly stated.
Origin of State of Union Address
The State of the Union Address is an annual speech given by the President of the United States to a joint session of Congress, typically in late January or early February. It serves as a report to the nation on the President’s legislative agenda and policy priorities, as well as an overview of the current state of the country’s economy, security, and social issues. The address is mandated by the Constitution in Article II, Section 3.
The tradition of the address dates back to President George Washington, who delivered the first such speech in 1790. The purpose of the address is to inform Congress and the American people about the President’s legislative agenda and priorities, as well as to give a report on the state of the nation’s economy and security. The State of the Union Address is an opportunity for the President to outline their vision for the country and to rally public support for their policies. Over time, the address has become an important symbol of the democratic process and a key moment in the political calendar.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team