(NewsNation Now) — Amid escalating conflict in Europe, President Joe Biden devoted much of his first State of the Union address to pledging to check Russian aggression, saying that it is important to fight the “dictators” before they “cause more chaos”. .”
“Throughout our history, we’ve learned this lesson: When dictators don’t pay the price for their aggression, they cause more chaos,” Biden said. “They keep moving. And the costs and threats to America and the world continue to mount.
As he began his speech, Biden asked lawmakers thronging the House chamber to stand up and salute Ukrainians who have been fighting in their home country against a Russian attack for nearly a week. Biden said he and all members of Congress, regardless of political differences, were united “with an unwavering determination that freedom will always triumph over tyranny.”
It was a remarkable show of unity after a long year of bitter acrimony between Biden’s Democratic coalition and the Republican opposition.
“Putin can surround Kiev with tanks, but he will never win the hearts and souls of the Ukrainian people,” Biden said. “He will never quench their love of freedom. He will never weaken the resolve of the free world.
Biden highlighted the bravery of Ukrainian defenders and the commitment of a newly reinvigorated Western alliance that has worked to rearm Ukraine’s military and cripple Russia’s economy through sanctions.
As Biden spoke, Russian forces were stepping up their attacks in Ukraine, after bombing the central square of the country’s second-largest city and Kiev’s main TV tower, killing at least five people. The Babi Yar Holocaust memorial in Kyiv was also damaged.
During his speech, Biden said the United States was following Canada and the European Union in banning Russian planes from its airspace in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine. He also said the Justice Department was launching a task force to prosecute the crimes of Russian oligarchs, whom he called “corrupt leaders who have cheated billions of dollars from this violent regime.”
“We come for your ill-gotten gains,” he said, saying US and European allies were looking for opportunities to seize their yachts, luxury apartments and private jets.
Pivoting on domestic concerns, Biden then addressed what has become a top concern for voters: inflation and the economy. Even before the Russian invasion sent energy costs skyrocketing, prices for American families had risen, and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hurt families and the nation’s economy.
Biden outlined plans to fight inflation by reinvesting in U.S. manufacturing capacity, speeding up supply chains and reducing the burden of childcare and elder care for workers.
“Too many families are struggling to keep up with the bills,” Biden said. “Inflation robs them of the gains they might otherwise feel. I understand. This is why my absolute priority is to control the prices.
Biden’s speech came amid public disapproval of his handling of the economy and the pandemic. Results from a recent NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll found that 57% of respondents disapproved of Biden’s handling of his presidency. Another 55% say he is not a clear communicator. And 88% said they were at least somewhat concerned about inflation, with 55% saying it was an even bigger concern than COVID-19 or unemployment.
As he denigrated the impact of the 2017 tax cuts, which primarily benefited the wealthiest Americans despite cutting taxes for a large majority of the country, Biden was booed by Republicans at bedroom.
In a rare jarring moment, Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado shouted that Biden was to blame for the 13 service members who were killed during the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last August.
“You put them in, 13 of them,” Boebert shouted as Biden mentioned his late son Beau, a veteran who died of brain cancer and served near widely used toxic military burns in Iraq. and in Afghanistan. Biden is pursuing legislation to help veterans suffering from exposure and other injuries.
Rising energy prices following Russia’s war in Ukraine are likely to exacerbate inflation in the United States, which is already at its highest level in 40 years, to eat into people’s incomes and threaten economic recovery after the pandemic. And while the geopolitical crisis in Eastern Europe may have helped calm partisan tensions in Washington, it has not erased the political and cultural discord that casts doubt on Biden’s ability to deliver on his promise to promote the national unity.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, chosen to give the Republican response, said Biden’s speech was a blast from the past with rising inflation, rising crime and a resurgent Russia, making it feel more like the 1980s than today.
“Before he was even sworn in, the president said he wanted to — I quote — get America respected around the world again and unite us here. It failed on both fronts,” she said.
Biden used his speech to return the country “to more normal routines” after two years of a pandemic that reshaped American life.
“It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again,” he said. He said people will be able to order another round of free tests from the government and that his administration is launching a “test to treat” initiative to provide free antiviral pills at pharmacies to those who test positive for the virus.
While his speech to Congress last year saw the rollout of a massive social spending package, Biden this year has largely repackaged past proposals in search of workable measures he hopes can win support. bipartisanship in a bitterly divided Congress ahead of the election.
The president also pointed to investments in everything from high-speed internet access to building bridges from November’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill as an example of government achieving a consensus and bringing change for the nation.
As part of his speech to voters, he also placed new emphasis on how proposals such as the extension of the child tax credit and the reduction of childcare costs could provide relief to families. as prices rise. It was said that his proposals on climate change would reduce costs for low- and middle-income families and create new jobs.
Biden has called for lower health care costs, outlining his plan to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, as well as an extension of more generous health insurance subsidies now temporarily available through the Act’s marketplaces. affordable care where 14.5 million people are covered.
Biden also called for action on voting rights, which failed to garner GOP support. And as gun violence escalates, he returned to calls to ban assault weapons, a direct request he hadn’t made in months. He called for “funding the police with the resources and training they need to protect our communities.”
He led Congress in a bipartisan tribute to retired Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and highlighted the biography of Federal Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, his nominee being the first black woman to serve on the high court.