President Joe Biden spoke optimistically when looking to the future in his second State of the Union address Tuesday night.
“As we gather here tonight, we are writing the next chapter in the great American story, a story of progress and resilience. When world leaders ask me to define America — and they do, believe it or not — I define our country in one word — and I mean this: Possibilities,” Biden said to a joint session of Congress.
Unlike in years past, Biden is now faced with a Republican majority in the House, a reality illustrated by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) joining Vice President Kamala Harris in appearing behind the president as he delivered his remarks.
One of the first things Biden did during his address was to recognize the new Congress and give McCarthy a handshake, a gesture that received loud applause. “Mr. Speaker, I don’t want to ruin your reputation, but I look forward to working with you,” Biden quipped.
LIVE –> State of the Union Address & Republican Response – LIVE on C-SPAN https://t.co/2kxXKC4nP8 #SOTU #SOTU2023 https://t.co/m7Otem8wTO
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 8, 2023
McCarthy released a video on Twitter signaling that he will not repeat the “theatrics” that his predecessor, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), put on display when she ripped up a paper copy of former President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech in 2020.
One significant moment in Biden’s address came when the president urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling.
Biden said his administration “cut the deficit by more than $1.7 trillion — the largest deficit reduction in American history.” After blaming Trump’s administration for a massive spike in the national debt, Biden called on Congress to prevent an economic disaster. “Let’s commit here tonight that the full faith and credit of the United States of America will never, ever be questioned,” he said.
Much of the address focused on the economy and touting Biden’s accomplishments during his first two years as president. Biden pushed for a recommitment to “Buy American.” He announced “new standards to require all construction materials used in federal infrastructure projects to be made in America.”
Investments in the country’s future will be covered by wealthy people and big corporations starting to “pay their fair share,” Biden declared. The president said the tax system is “not fair.” He also proposed quadrupling the tax on corporate stock buybacks as well as a billionaire minimum tax.
Biden issued a warning to Republicans who are talking about repealing the Inflation Reduction Act. “Make no mistake, if you try anything to raise the cost of prescription drugs, I will veto it,” he added to cheers from Democrats.
When Biden said some Republicans want an end to Medicare and Social Security, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) stood and yelled, “Liar!”
Chaos ERUPTS during State of the Union after Joe Biden flat-out LIES about Republicans’ Social Security plan@MTG calls him out, stands up and yells “LIAR!” at him on LIVE TV 🔥
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) February 8, 2023
Earlier, the White House released a list of guests sitting with the president’s wife, first lady Jill Biden, during the State of the Union address. Among them were Ukraine Ambassador Oksana Markarova and Holocaust survivor Ruth Cohen.
During his speech, Biden recognized some of the guests, including RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, the mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old man allegedly beaten to death by police in Memphis, Tennessee. He also gave a shout-out to Brandon Tsay, the man caught on camera disarming the suspected gunman in the deadly Monterey Park, California, shooting.
Also in attendance was Paul Pelosi, the 82-year-old husband of Nancy Pelosi, who survived a break-in attack at their San Francisco home in late October.
Ahead of the federal government letting the coronavirus public health emergency expire in May, Biden said COVID “no longer controls our lives.”
References to the events of January 6, 2021, were also woven into his speech. “Two years ago, democracy faced its greatest threat since the Civil War. And today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken,” Biden said.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who is reportedly planning to step down for a top hockey union job, was the “designated survivor” among Biden’s Cabinet not in attendance.
Arkansas Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as President Donald Trump’s White House press secretary, was picked to deliver the formal GOP rebuttal to Biden’s address on Tuesday. Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ) was selected to deliver the Spanish-language GOP response.
Biden’s job approval rating has hovered around the low-to-mid 40s since the beginning of the year. While Biden is expected to tout a resilient economy, four in 10 Americans say they are worse off financially since he took office, a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found.
The president has said he intends to run for re-election in 2024, and reports indicate a formal announcement could happen around the time of the State of the Union address. Trump, who has already entered the race with his third campaign for the White House, said he will be doing a “live and full ‘Play by Play’ analysis” of Biden’s address on Truth Social.
After the State of the Union address, the White House says Biden will travel to Wisconsin and Florida later this week “to showcase how the President’s plan is creating jobs, rebuilding our infrastructure, lowering costs for families, investing in our future, and delivering for families too often left behind.”
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