6 Takeaway Points From Biden’s Second State of the Union Address

Jeff Louderback
By Jeff Louderback
February 8, 2023Politics

In what sounded like a rehearsal for his expected announcement to seek a second term in 2024, President Joe Biden delivered his State of the Union address on Feb. 7.

In the 72-minute speech, he encouraged bi-partisanship and unity, boasted that current numbers show that his economic plan is working, and sparred with Republicans who expressed dismay over several of his claims.

“Finish the job” was Biden’s credo as he mentioned the phrase 12 times during the address.

At 80, Biden was the oldest president to deliver the State of the Union.

State of the Union
Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) listen as President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Feb. 7, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Differing Viewpoints On Economy

The White House reported before the State of the Union that Biden would talk about legislation he championed in his first two years that support his “promise to build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out,” including the American Rescue Plan, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“President Biden will highlight the historic progress we have made to bring the economy back from the pandemic and create more jobs in a two-year period than under any other president on record,” a White House statement previewing his address reported.

“Two years ago, our economy was reeling. As I stand here tonight, we have created a record 12 million new jobs—more jobs created in two years than any president has ever created in four years, Biden said. “Two years ago, COVID had shut down our businesses, closed our schools, and robbed us of so much.

“Amid the economic upheaval of the past four decades, too many people have been left behind or treated like they’re invisible. That’s why we’re building an economy where no one is left behind,” Biden added.

“Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back because of the choices we made in the last two years. This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America and make a real difference in your lives.”

Biden promoted the 3.4 percent unemployment rate, which is a “50-year low,” near record unemployment for blacks and Hispanics, the creation of “800,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs,” and that “gas prices are down $1.50 from their peak.”

Inflation, which was 1.4 percent when Biden took office and is currently at 6.5 percent, “has fallen every month for the last six months, while take-home pay has gone up,” the president said.

Biden’s assessment and the true state of the union, including the economy, are “polar extremes,” according to Joe Mobley, who is project ambassador for the Project 21 Black Leadership Network, a black conservative think tank.

“Honestly, there isn’t really anything President Biden can say that impacts the American people positively. Why? Because the American people have been deeply impacted by a number of hard realities resulting from weak leadership in the White House,” Mobley said.

“This includes nationwide economic instability and the rising cost of goods and gas prices, just to name a few.

“The administration can hardly utter the words ‘recession’ or ‘economic downturn,’ despite the obvious reality in which we live. We also aren’t taken seriously on the international stage, as recently highlighted during the Chinese spy-balloon debacle,” Mobley added.

“Our nation is not headed in the right direction, and the American people are tired of it.”

Mobley believes that Biden’s performance in his first two years is receiving negative reviews from black voters.

“With each day and seemingly each decision, President Biden loses more support from a base that was historically unflappable,” Mobley said. “His State of the Union did little to shore up that shrinking base.”

Parties Can Work Together

Since the calendar turned to 2023, bi-partisan cooperation and unity have been consistent themes in every Biden speech. On Feb. 7,  the trend continued.

Facing a divided Congress after Republicans gained control of the House in January, the president said to his “Republican friends” that “if we could work together in the last Congress, there’s no reason we can’t work together and find consensus on important things in this Congress as well.

“I think the people sent us a clear message,” Biden continued. “Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict gets us nowhere.”

He said that “we’re often told that Democrats and Republicans can’t work together, but over the past two years, we proved the cynics and naysayers wrong.”

Biden noted he has signed “over 300 bipartisan pieces of legislation since becoming President, from reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act to the Electoral Count Reform Act, the Respect for Marriage Act that protects the right to marry the person you love.”

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) Bera told The Epoch Times after the speech that he appreciated Biden’s push for bipartisan cooperation.

“I think the president hit on all the right notes,” Bera said. “You know, he certainly is talking about unity. And we talked about restoring the strength of America, and don’t count America out, and talked about the legislation that we passed. But, you know, I thought it was a very positive, optimistic speech.”

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who at 40 became the nation’s youngest governor when she took office in January, was selected to deliver the Republican rebuttal to Biden’s address.

The vision presented by a “new generation of Republican leadership” is vastly different from that offered by Biden and the Democratic Party,” she said.

Testy Exchanges

In the opening moments of his remarks, Biden congratulated Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R- Calif.) for becoming Speaker of the House and jokingly said, “Mr. Speaker, I don’t want to ruin your reputation, but I look forward to working with you.”

Following a series of comments when he praised the bipartisan cooperation in his first two years and encouraged unity in 2023 and beyond, Biden sparked the nerves of several Republicans in the chamber when he shifted to the federal deficit and the debt ceiling.

Biden said that his administration has “cut the deficit by more than $1.7 trillion—the largest deficit reduction in American history” and that under his “predecessor,” the country’s deficit increased for four consecutive years.

“Because of those record deficits, no president added more to the national debt in any four years than my predecessor,” Biden explained.

“Nearly 25 percent of the entire national debt that took over 200 years to accumulate was added by just one administration alone—the last one,” he continued before Republicans in the chamber responded with resounding displeasure.

Biden Delivers State of The Union Address
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Feb. 7, 2023. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Venturing away from the speech that was released to the media before the address, Biden interjected by saying, “They are the facts, check it out. Check it out. How did Congress respond to that debt? They did the right thing.

“They lifted the debt ceiling three times without preconditions or crisis. They paid America’s bills to prevent an economic disaster to our country.

“So, tonight, I’m asking this Congress to follow suit. Let’s commit here tonight that the full faith and credit of the United States of America will never, ever be questioned,” he added.

Biden immediately transitioned to Republicans, who have said they will not approve raising the debt ceiling unless the president agrees to spending cuts.

“Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage unless I agree to their economic plans. All of you at home should know what their plans are,” he explained.

“Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset every five years.”

The claim drew more boos and jeers from Republicans.

“Liar!” shouted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

“We never said that!” said Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.)

“I’m not saying it’s the majority,” Biden said.

“Anyone who doubts it, contact my office. I’ll give you a copy of the proposal,” he added.

Moments later, tension was calmed as Biden said, “So, folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now. Right? All right. We’ve got unanimity!”

Shooting Down Chinese Balloon

Biden is under scrutiny for his handling of the Chinese surveillance balloon that traversed U.S. airspace late last week before it was shot down over the Atlantic Ocean off the South Carolina coast.

He claimed the move was evidence of his commitment to defend America and confront China’s communist regime when necessary.

“I am committed to work with China where it can advance American interests and benefit the world,” Biden said during his speech.

“But make no mistake about it: as we made clear last week, if China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country. And we did.”

The president explained that he made it clear to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping that he prefers competition over conflict.

“And let’s be clear: winning the competition should unite all of us,” Biden said.

Biden SOTU
President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address during a joint meeting of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Feb. 7, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Biden again stepped away from his script when he asked the Joint Session if they could name a person who would change places with Xi.

Before Biden took office, he said, “the story was about how the People’s Republic of China was increasing its power and America was falling in the world.”

The situation has turned around in his first two years, he added.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is one of several Republicans who disagree.

“I thought it was unfortunate when he said that America’s enemies are weaker today, that he’s standing up to China,” Cruz told The Epoch Times after the address.

“Sadly, the entire world laughed at the president while a Chinese spy balloon hovered over America for over a week,” Cruz continued. “We should have shot it down the instant it entered U.S. airspace.”

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he described the spy balloon’s journey as “very dangerous” and said that the incident was a failure by the Biden administration.

“They’re really testing this administration, in my judgment, it’s weakness versus strength,” McCaul said. “Every time we project strength as a nation … you have peace. When you project weakness, you invite aggression.”

Tax on Billionaires

Encouraging billionaires and corporations to “pay their fair share” and repeating the administration’s concept of “reward work, not just wealth.”

Biden proposed instituting a minimum tax on billionaires and quadrupling the stock buyback tax.

“Let’s finish the job. Reward work, not just wealth. Pass my proposal for a billionaire minimum tax,” Biden said. “Because no billionaire should pay a lower tax rate than a school teacher or a firefighter.”

The Office of Management and Budget and the Council of Economic Advisers found in September 2021 report that billionaires paid an average federal individual income tax rate of 8.2 percent between 2010 and 2018.

Details about Biden’s minimum tax proposal have not been announced, but the president previously suggested a tax rate of at least 20 percent on households with a net worth of more than $100 million.

“I’m a capitalist. But just pay your fair share,” Biden said.

Biden turned his attention to oil and gas companies, saying it is “outrageous” that they made $200 billion in profits.

“They invested too little of that profit to increase domestic production and keep gas prices down,” Biden said. “Instead, they used those record profits to buy back their own stock, rewarding their CEOs and shareholders.”

Tax on corporate stock buybacks should be quadrupled to 4 percent, Biden recommended, “to encourage long-term investments instead.

“They will still make a considerable profit,” he added. “Let’s finish the job and close the loopholes that allow the very wealthy to avoid paying their taxes.”

The billionaire wealth tax and the corporate stock buybacks tax initiatives are unlikely to get enough support in the GOP-controlled House, many experts believe.

Large corporations are taking advantage of the tax code, Biden explained, which is why “our present tax system is simply unfair,”

These companies are “taking advantage of you, the American consumer,” he added.

Pandemic Is Over

Early in the speech, Biden said “the pandemic is over.”

He called for investigations into the fraudulent use of COVID-19 economic relief funds.

Estimates show that around $500 billion has been lost to waste, fraud, and abuse in pandemic relief spending.

“As we emerge from this crisis, stronger, we’re also gotta [sic] double down on prosecuting criminals who stole relief money meant to keep workers and small businesses afloat,” Biden said.

Republicans and Attorney General Merrick Garland applauded. Garland would carry out prosecutions.

Republicans also applauded when Biden said, “Soon we’ll end the public health emergency.”

The House GOP majority last week passed a bill that would end the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“President Biden and I agree: the COVID-19 pandemic is over,” Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), who proposed ending the emergency declaration, said on the House floor.

On Feb. 7, Guthrie wrote on Twitter, “The COVID-19 pandemic is over, It’s long overdue to end the COVID-19 [public health emergency] and for President Biden to relinquish his emergency powers.”

During his address, Biden said, “While the virus is not gone, thanks to the resilience of the American people and the ingenuity of medicine, we have broken the COVID grip on us.

“Deaths are down by 90 percent. We’ve saved millions of lives and opened our country back up,” he added.

Congress should continue to support funding for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, Biden believes.

“We still need to monitor dozens of new variants and support new vaccines and treatments,” Biden said. “Congress needs to fund these efforts and keep America safe.”

From The Epoch Times

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