Home Career Watch: Biden Delivers 2023 State of the Union Address

Watch: Biden Delivers 2023 State of the Union Address


President Biden is delivering his second State of the Union address and hopes to convince skeptical Americans that they are better off than when he took office two years ago.

Biden plans to highlight his economic record, including three bills he signed that would direct trillions of dollars to rebuild the nation’s dilapidated infrastructure, fight climate change, lower prescription drug costs and boost domestic manufacturing. He will also seek to pit his leadership against the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where GOP members have vowed to be a roadblock for the rest of Biden’s term and vowed to investigate both the president’s administration and his family.

“My economic plan is to invest in places and people that have been forgotten,” Biden said, according to excerpts released by the White House ahead of the speech. “Work is coming back, [and] honor is coming back because of the choices we have made over the past two years. This is a blueprint for blue-collar workers to rebuild America and make a real difference in your life.”

The president has yet to announce whether he will formally seek re-election, but aides say he will make a decision in the next few months. The prime-time speech gives him an opportunity to introduce what is expected to be the biggest audience of the year. About 38.2 million viewers watched his first State of the Union address, according to Nielsen ratings.

Biden will tackle both old and new issues in a Congress no longer controlled by his party. The president faces special investigation over whether he mishandled classified documents, and House Republicans are ramping up their oversight efforts. Biden is also trying to rally Western allies and the American public behind continued support for Ukraine as Russia’s invasion enters its second year. And a pair of recent mass shootings in California, along with the brutal police killing of a black man in Memphis, have served as stark reminders that Democrats have been unable to pass an assault weapons ban or police reform measures in the face of GOP opposition.

The State of the Union address is “an impossible speech for any president,” said William Howell, an American politics professor at the University of Chicago. “This is a speech that must address many competing demands politically, and it comes at a time of acute uncertainty about the state of the world and the state of the economy.”

Biden will balance the public economic balance anxiety versus a more upbeat report on progress, according to Brian Deese, the president’s top economic adviser. The pandemic has receded, the public health emergency of COVID-19 will end in May. Employers added more than half a million jobs in January, while the unemployment rate fell to 3.4%, the lowest in half a century, according to Labor Department data released Friday.

“Two years ago, our economy was faltering. “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.

The president will take the podium with one of his biggest challenges looming over his shoulder: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) is at odds with Biden over the federal deficit and has refused to raise the debt limit unless the president makes a commitment. to an unspecified reduction in future costs. If the two leaders cannot reach a deal, the US will default on its debt, which will shock financial markets and cause economic chaos.

Biden plans to use the bully pulpit to resolve the impasse, making it clear that “honoring the full faith and credit of the United States” is the duty of “everyone in a position of trust,” Deese told reporters Monday.

Despite recent job gains and signs that inflation is easing, recent polls show that the public remains largely distrustful of Biden’s job performance. The president’s approval rating remains stubbornly at 42%, largely unchanged from when he last delivered his first State of the Union address a year ago (41%).

Since taking office, Biden has urged his party to apply lessons learned from the Obama years by clearly communicating its accomplishments to voters — a strategy he says his former boss was hesitant to use after the 2009 passage of the Obamacare Act. rebuilding and reinvesting America.

But the Biden White House also struggled to convince voters that he had followed through on his promise to make their lives easier. A A Washington Post poll published Monday by ABC News found that 62% of Americans say Biden has not accomplished “very much” or “little or nothing” in his first two years in office, compared to 36% who say he has accomplished “a lot” or “well.” .

Only 37% of Democrats said they want Biden to run for a second term, far fewer than the 52% who said the same ahead of November’s midterm elections, an Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Monday found.

While Biden may risk appearing out of touch with voters’ economic concerns, any State of the Union address is an important time to “be pretty aggressive in telling a positive story,” said Michael Waldman, former President Clinton’s chief speechwriter. . who worked on four State of the Union speeches and two inaugural addresses.

“The public often doesn’t believe good news,” Waldman said, noting that “public perception often lags far behind reality.”

Audiences will include visible reminders of policy goals that have remained out of reach for Democrats. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called on Congress to resume talks on police accountability reform after the fatal attack on Tyre Nichols by five Memphis police officers. RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, Nichols’ mother and stepfather, are expected to attend the speech.

Brandon Tsai, who disarmed an armed assailant in a Monterey park when he entered a second dance studio, is also scheduled to be at the address as Biden urges Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban. Biden signed a bipartisan gun safety bill in June after the mass shooting at a school in Texas. The bill strengthened this year’s background checks on young gun buyers and expanded an existing law that bars domestic abusers from purchasing guns.

A total of 26 guests who “personify the issues or topics for consideration” during the speech have been invited to sit down with first lady Jill Biden, the White House said in a statement on Tuesday. Oksana Markarov, Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., U2 frontman and Irish rock star Bono, and Paul Pelosi, husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), are among those expected to attend.

Some of those guests will also be featured in the president’s address to Congress about working together on four bipartisan issues he talked about last year: fighting cancer, improving veterans’ health care, combating the opioid crisis and providing more mental health services.

“If we could work together in the last Congress, there’s no reason we can’t work together in this new Congress. The people sent us a clear message,” Biden will tell Republican lawmakers. “Fighting for fighting’s sake, power for power’s sake, conflict for conflict’s sake will get you nowhere.”

Most presidents face a divided Congress after their first midterm election. But in the case of Biden, the November election did not become a reproach to his administration. Democrats kept losses in the House well below the historical average and gained a seat in the Senate. The presidential party also won two governorships and control of four more state legislatures.

White House officials say one reason for the result was Biden’s ability to draw a clear distinction from former President Trump and the right-wing Republicans who support him. He is likely to highlight that contrast again as he prepares to battle Republicans in the House of Representatives over the next two years and hints at a re-election campaign. Members of the GOP, who have raised eyebrows in recent months, will provide the visual contrast the president will be looking for, Waldman said.

“Presidents have a good sense of how every word and every comma will be used — who will cheer, who will frown,” Waldman said. “Every time the camera pans to George Santos or Marjorie Taylor Green, it’s a win. He has some foils to play against.”

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