President Joe Biden presented his first formal State of the Union address on Tuesday night; his compatriots on the left praised his Unity Agenda, his handling of the pandemic, and his support for the Ukrainian people. However, those on the right viewed the speech as lackluster, rambling, and no plan for fixing the economy.
Pundits said Biden’s speech had been written for some time, but, when Russia invaded Ukraine a week ago, that Biden had to throw the prepared speech out the proverbial window and start again. Biden did pay homage to the crisis in Eastern Europe, and he urged unity across the world by promoting a boycott of Russian products. However, many politicians, including some Democrats, are questioning Russian sanctions that have yet to include energy transactions.
According to ABC News, the United States imported at least 245 million barrels of oil from Russia in 2021.
Viewers noted that most of the members of Congress who attended the State of the Union Address (while masks are no longer required, testing for COVID was; some may have skipped the SOTU due to this requirement) wore yellow and royal blue. Some wore a combination of the colors. Even Eric Swalwell (D-CA) wore a royal blue stole around his neck; some lawmakers wore pins or held Ukrainian flags during the speech.
Biden made some strong statements regarding Russian president Vladimir Putin, saying that Putin “has no idea what is coming.” At the same time, even Democratic members of Congress have questioned why America is still buying oil from Russia. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told reporters on Monday that imports of Russian oil should be ended.
The crisis in Ukraine wasn’t the only topic that Biden’s SOTU speech addressed. Biden said that progressive policies such as defunding the police won’t solve the crime problem in America; he said the police force needs to be funded and provided with training. He also addressed post-COVID life in his speech.
In what some saw as sanctimonious statements, Biden forcefully urged people to “get back to work” and “fill our downtowns.”
He also said that schools should be opened, but he also called for the vaccination of school children in order to do so. Biden appeared to pat his own back when he discussed the development and distribution of anti-viral pills for COVID-19. Biden added, “I cannot promise a new variant won’t come. But I can promise you we’ll do everything within our power to be ready if it does.”
Perhaps one of the areas where Independent voters as well as Republicans felt Biden was merely paying lip service to the nation’s economic troubles came when the president shared: “I grew up in a family where if the price of food went up, you felt it.”
He used that statement to say that part of his past was “why he pushed to pass the COVID-19 relief bill,” which many say is the reason why inflation is so rampant in the first place. Biden did say his “top priority” is getting inflation and prices under control. He announced that the United States and thirty other countries had come to a compromise and release 60 million barrels of oil from the strategic reserves. However, the United States alone uses 20 million barrels per day, according to PBS.
Biden mentioned price gouging as a potential reason for the surge in gas prices, and then he began promoting the use of American made products in order to aid the American economy. Again, Biden made no mention of cutting off oil transactions from Russia.
Rather, Biden appeared to address corporations as the reason for inflation: “Lower your costs, not your wages (to corporations).” He also inferred that shipping companies were upping prices, saying that moving goods cheaper and faster should be a priority.
Biden also threw a punch at the Trump Administration, saying that the $2 trillion tax cut under Trump had only “benefited the top 1 percent in America.”
Biden also called for the confirmation of his Federal Reserve Board nominees as well as promoted the bipartisan infrastructure bill.