Biden to Paint Image of Economic Recovery During State of the Union Address

Biden to Paint Image of Economic Recovery During State of the Union Address
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, as Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) applaud, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Feb. 7, 2023. (Jacquelyn Martin/Pool via Reuters)
Joseph Lord

President Joe Biden will seek to paint an image of economic recovery during his State of the Union speech.

The speech comes as Biden faces the prospect of a divided Congress for the first time in his presidency after Republicans took control of the House in 2022.

According to documents provided by the White House, Biden’s speech will open on an optimistic note.

“The story of America is a story of progress and resilience,” the transcript reads. “We are the only country that has emerged from every crisis stronger than when we entered it.”

Biden will continue, as he has done often during recent appearances, to paint a portrait of an economy that is booming.

“That is what we are doing again,” Biden will say. “Two years ago our economy was reeling. As I stand here tonight, we have created a record 12 million new jobs—more jobs created in two years than any president has ever created in four years.

“Two years ago, COVID had shut down our businesses, closed our schools, and robbed us of so much. Today, COVID no longer controls our lives.”

Biden will also seek to strike a populist note, referencing “the jobs that went away,” a reference to the explosive exodus of corporate manufacturers since the 1980s. Many of these jobs have gone to China, where labor laws are far more lax and wages far lower.

“My economic plan is about investing in places and people that have been forgotten,” the speech reads. “Amid the economic upheaval of the past four decades too many people have been left behind or treated like they’re invisible. Maybe that’s you watching at home. You remember the jobs that went away. And you wonder whether a path even exists anymore for you and your children to get ahead without moving away. I get it.”

Biden will point to some of the spending packages passed under his tenure as president.

“That’s why we’re building an economy where no one is left behind. Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back because of the choices we made in the last two years. This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America and make a real difference in your lives.”

During his presidency, Biden has signed off on over $5.5 trillion in spending.

The largest, and first, of these packages was the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which passed through the House and Senate with no Republican votes. Later, Biden signed off on the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

In 2022, Biden signed off on two additional spending bills: the $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act and the $1.7 trillion omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2023.

Bipartisan Overtures

As Biden faced down the prospect of a divided Congress, he will also seek to make overtures to House Republicans.

“To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together in this new Congress,” the documents say, a reference to the infrastructure bill and an additional gun control bill that passed with GOP support.

“The people sent us a clear message,” Biden will say of the 2022 midterms, in which voters gave no clear mandate to either party. “Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere. And that’s always been my vision for the country: to restore the soul of the nation, to rebuild the backbone of America: the middle class, to unite the country. We’ve been sent here to finish the job!”

The overture will come amid concerns over the fate of the debt ceiling, which will need to be raised, requiring the support of the GOP-led House, later this year.

At the same time, Republicans have indicated that they aren’t buying Biden’s message of economic resurgence.

In a Jan. 27 press release, Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee wrote that “Biden’s rhetoric doesn’t match his results.”
“While Biden [claims] the economy is growing strong, the latest report on economic growth reveals that the economy under his Administration’s policies has fallen short of expectations on seven out of the last eight economic growth reports,” They wrote. “In fact, the entirety of 2022 was worse for economic growth than expected. And even more trouble lies ahead, according to the latest Leading Economic Index report.”

‘Greatest Threat Since the Civil War’

Biden is set to talk about the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach near the beginning of the speech, calling it “the greatest threat [to democracy] since the Civil War.

“[Two] years ago, our democracy faced its greatest threat since the Civil War. Today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken.”

This fits into the larger narrative pushed by the now-defunct House January 6 Select Committee, which has painted the events of January 6 as the culmination of a months-long plot by President Donald Trump and his allies to overthrow the U.S. government.

That day, a subset of protestors entered the U.S. Capitol during the certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

Democrats and other opponents of Trump have long described Jan. 6 as a “violent insurrection.”

Biden’s nod to Jan. 6 comes as House Republicans, now in control of House subpoena power, begin to look into the financial transactions of Biden and his family amid allegations of Biden’s involvement in his son Hunter Biden’s business endeavors.
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