Tonight marked President Biden’s first State of the Union as Commander in Chief. There are not a lot of positive items for him to discuss, but as I anticipated, he spun a web of contradiction in front of the American people spouting facts not in evidence to assuage the fears of his party and inflame those of the other. On a day where his poll numbers are in the gutter, he should have channeled his internal Gerald Ford from the SOTU in 1975 when he famously stated that the State of the Union is “Not Good.” For similar reasons as Ford gave in ’75, Biden should have been blunt and honest with the American people.
Unlike other politicians of yester-year, Biden is in his last round in the boxing match. He is not posturing for future political battles but instead is in the twilight of his legacy. In 1975 Biden would have been sitting in that same room that Gerald Ford was giving his speech as the Junior Senator from Delaware just two years into his lengthy tenure. Then as Ford points out, the deficit was at 30 billion, inflation was high, and there were labor shortages and plant inactivity. Another similarity to 1975 was the dependence on foreign energy, which is at the forefront of the Republican agenda today, specifically regarding the Russian energy reliance during the crisis in Ukraine.
President Biden started on the only unified point that he knew would play to both sides; he said that Russia would be stopped and that the free people of Ukraine will not kowtow to Putin’s illegitimate power-grabbing and war. Both sides of Congress clapped at his remarks as he detailed further the ongoing sanctions against the Kremlin. For the first 17 minutes, he spoke about the conflict in Ukraine and sounded strong and resolved to the whole country.
Once he finished with his opening remarks on Ukraine, he started to talk about what he had done and how his American rescue plan was positively reshaping post-Covid America. His praise of the infrastructure plan and the buy America policy is laudable but cannot be considered his brainchild. It hardly makes you the hero when you wait until the last possible minute to pass something that has been necessary for some time.
Thirty minutes into the speech, Biden finally went onto the tough topic of inflation, blaming it on the pandemic and the supply chain and not on the passage of the massive spending packages. His idea to limit inflation is for companies to lower their costs and bring back international supply chains and semiconductors home to America. Although this sounds like a good thing, it will hardly be cheaper from the outset. It’s hard for me to understand Biden’s grandstanding on drug prices and making them more affordable when the Democrats gave money hand over fist to the top pharmaceutical companies for their Covid vaccines.
Thirty-seven minutes in was the beginning of his list of other hand-outs that were hard to keep track of, childcare, and credits for weatherizing your home. (No mention of student loans will likely bring the socialists crying in the morning.) Biden’s conversation on taxes was misguided, and he broad stroked the finite details of the matter. It was the typical motto of “big companies aren’t paying enough, so let’s set minimum rates,” at the end of the day, how much more will that generate? He announced that the DOJ would set a chief prosecutor for pandemic fraud, and there were raucous cheers. Would this be necessary if there wasn’t so much money flagrantly handed out to everybody?
Forty minutes in, the President kept going through a list of things he wanted to happen and not anything about the actual status of the country. He finally started to talk about Covid-19 as if it hadn’t been overshadowing our lives for the last two years. Coincidentally for him, the government changed a lot of mandates and requirements right before this speech so that things could look more normal. It is the epitome of political posturing.
President Biden came from a position of unity, but there was no surprise that he put plenty of “quick comments” about the Democrat agenda in a way that made it not seem a focus of the conversation. In a surprise firm comment that brought applause from both sides, Biden vehemently said that the Police would be well-funded. Hopefully, this is enough to silence the far-left plan for now.
There were no concrete examples of how inflation would decrease or settle and how the government will face and fix the energy crisis brought on by the Russian war in Ukraine and other green policies. He mentioned releasing 30 million barrels from our strategic reserve to help buffer the increased cost of oil, but it won’t be enough. Biden hopes that both sides can come together on four key items: the opioid crisis, mental health issues, supporting veterans, and ending cancer. These are all good bipartisan items, but they are not easy to overcome with simple legislation.
In a speech that lasted just over an hour, his last sentence was not what Ford said in ’75 but instead that “The State of the Union is strong because you the American people are strong.” It seems like a fluffy and somewhat hollow remark when the average person in America could easily debate that to the contrary. At the end of it all, his speech was two parts; the first focused on Ukraine and the latter majority the atypical laundry list of things he wants to get done or claims to have already done. Instead, my take is that the State of the Union is conflicted. The Eastern European conflict has the likely potential of making life over here in America much more complicated in the coming year.