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Joe Biden's 2023 State of the Union Address: A Summary and Analysis

President Joe Biden gives his 2023 State of the Union Address to a joint Congress on Capitol Hill with Vice President Kamala Harris and newly elected Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA 20th District) sitting behind him. (CNN)

On Tuesday, February 7th, President Joe Biden delivered his 2023 State of the Union address to Supreme Court justices, honored guests, and an ideologically divided joint session of Congress. The address marked the start of Biden's third year in office and served as an opportunity for him to reflect on the progress made over the past year, outline his legislative priorities, and call for unity and bipartisanship. Unlike last year, Joe Biden gave his speech to a House of Representatives controlled by the Republican party under the hard-earned leadership of Kevin McCarthy (R-CA 20th District).

One of the main messages of the President's speech was the need for unity and cooperation in addressing the pressing issues facing the country such as a lacking economy and social unrest. Biden emphasized that in order for the country to move forward, the Democratic and Republican parties must work together to find common ground and build consensus. He acknowledged that there are deeply entrenched political divisions in the country, but expressed his belief that these differences can be overcome through honest dialogue and a willingness to compromise. However, despite the repetitive call for unity throughout his speech, Joe Biden did not hold back from taking subliminal shots at members of the Republican party who opposed bills and legislation endorsed by his administration such as his infrastructure bill.

Another major focus of the President's speech was the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and healthcare. Joe Biden proudly announced that his administration plans to call an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency by May 11th. A pandemic that began before Joe Biden was elected into office, many in the crowd welcomed this announcement with open arms as it alluded to a return to “normalcy” in America. Recognizing the need for a careful and well-thought-out transition, Biden requested for political leaders all over the country to work together to make the transition as safe as possible. He also acknowledged the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic, including the need for continued support for businesses and workers, and called for a continued national effort to get the virus under control. Unlike COVID-19, healthcare did not receive a similar response as members of Congress were evidently divided on issues such as medicare, private insurance, and aspects of social security.

Dressed in an elaborate and distinctive white fur coat, Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA 14th District) heckled Joe Biden throughout the State of the Union, at one point calling him a “liar” when he started talking about how some members of the Republican party adamantly opposed and blocked his wishes to expand medicare and social security. (CBS News)

Dressed in an elaborate and distinctive white fur coat, Majorie Taylor Greene (R-GA 14th District) heckled Joe Biden throughout the State of the Union, at one point calling him a “liar” when he started talking about how some members of the Republican party adamantly opposed and blocked his wishes to expand medicare and social security. (CBS News)

On the topic of the economy, Joe Biden did not shy away from announcing the major achievements that his administration is supposedly responsible for and the daring legislations that he wishes to undertake and implement as U.S. laws. The president proudly boasted about the low unemployment rate and increased economic growth and productivity that his presidency helped enable. He optimistically spoke about how the future of the American economy is bright, but Congress must work together if they want to strengthen it further. A number of congressional members showed their discontent as just weeks ago Biden was pressuring Congress to raise the debt limits while his appointed Secretary of Treasury, Janet Yellen, took evasive actions against the debt limit. The discontent only grew as Biden started to talk about his plans to increase taxes for billionaires, a stance that the Republican party vehemently opposes, and antitrust legislation.

Biden announced his hopes for antitrust legislation to be passed by a cooperative Congress that will tackle monopolies in the healthcare industry that overcharge valuable medical technologies such as hearing aides. He emphasized how antitrust legislation will prevent and reprimand monopolies that extort prices to raise their profit margins despite human lives being at stake. Biden’s last major economic point was on labor and wages laws in America. The president expressed his disappointment with the Republican party for siding with corporations and adhering to their wishes of dismantling policies that protect the legal and personal rights of their workers. In his speech, Biden mentioned the ProAct which is a pro-worker’s rights bill that would protect the right to organize and peacefully protest against employers and corporations. The continuous use of non-compete agreements in the workplace was also condemned by Biden who gave an executive order to discourage such agreements through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Political Charade? Due to the divisive nature of the State of the Union, many are wondering, including Jack Shafer a senior media writer at Politico, if the State of the Union should be permanently or temporarily canceled. (CNN)

The President also outlined his priorities for the coming year, including a major infrastructure plan aimed at modernizing the country's roads, bridges, and other key systems, in regions of America where such things are outdated and states don’t have the appropriate amount of funds to update them. Additionally, he also called for action on climate change, including a plan to transition the country to clean energy sources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He also addressed the need for criminal justice reform, including reducing the prison population, ending mass incarceration, and ensuring that all people have access to justice and equal protection under the law.

Biden's speech was well received by mainstream media sources, with many commentators, most of them liberal, praising his call for unity and his emphasis on the importance of bipartisanship. The public’s interest in the speech was underwhelming, to say the least, as an estimated 27.3 million viewers tuned in, a 29 percent drop from the 38.2 million viewers in 2021, according to Nielsen. Critics on the right argued that the President's proposals were too liberal and that his numerous calls for bipartisanship were empty and hollow, given his party's push for partisan legislation and agenda in the past. Some also criticized his focus on climate change, arguing that the priority should be on the shaky economy and increased job creation.

Pool Photo by Paul Loeb, Many Americans were greatly disappointed by Joe Biden’s speech, and even more, chose not to tune in.

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