President Joe Biden delivered the annual State of the Union address to a tumultuous audience on Tuesday, Feb. 7. Despite triggering open hostility from members of Congress at moments, Biden’s unwavering optimism was noticeable throughout the 80-minute runtime. Biden also heavily emphasized the sentiment of a job “unfinished,” which was most likely meant as a reference to potential progress in the latter half of his presidency.
While Biden covered a large array of topics that night, healthcare and economy were the most predominant. One bill mentioned was the Inflation Reduction Act, which aims to curb prescription drug prices, specifically insulin, at first for seniors and then for Americans at large. The protection and retention of Medicare were also prominent. Biden was careful to not call out members of Congress by name when he said, “…some members here are threatening…to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act…that’s okay…as my football coach used to say, lots of luck in your senior year.”
This tongue-in-cheek approach to combating dissent continued throughout the speech. In a portion focused on tax reductions, Biden said, “…no billionaire should be paying a lower tax rate than a schoolteacher or a firefighter…I know you aren’t enthusiastic about that, but think about it.” Biden used this open admission for debate as a way of promoting bipartisanship, a quality Congress has been struggling to maintain since the last administration.
In a shocking move of bipartisan support, the congressional audience stood when Biden addressed police reform. This topic has been a hot-button issue for many years, particularly following the 2020 protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd. Biden spoke for both sides of the political line as he advocated for police reform while maintaining a level of respect and admiration for the police, a sentiment clearly shared by both Democratic and Republican members of Congress.
It is clear that Biden’s main focus is connection without contradiction; he was careful to affirm that while he is open to working with Republican congressional members, certain aspects of various tabled bills will not be sacrificed in the name of compromise.
Of the 339,172,809 people in the United States, only 27.3 million people viewed the State of the Union Address. The lack of viewership, down 59.19% since 1993, raises other concerns about the interest of Americans in the wellbeing of their country. For those interested in becoming more civically engaged, whitehouse.gov has helpfully provided both a transcript and livestream footage of the speech.
Annabelle Smith is a first-year currently exploring options for her major.