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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Biden Vows to Stonewall Russia, Tackle Inflation, in State of Union Address

President Joe Biden promised to halt Russian aggression in Ukraine, contain skyrocketing US inflation, and deal with the fading but still hazardous coronavirus in his maiden State of the Union speech Tuesday night, speaking to a worried nation and worried globe.

Regardless of their political disagreements, Biden claimed that he and other members of Congress are united “with an unflinching commitment that freedom will always win over tyranny.” As he began his remarks, he requested the legislators in the House chamber to stand and salute the Ukrainians. They rose up and applauded.

After a year of acrimonious squabbles between Biden’s Democratic coalition and the Republican opposition, it was a rare show of togetherness.

Biden’s 62-minute address, which alternated between foreign policy and domestic concerns, echoed the same balancing act he confronts as president. He must rally allied determination in the face of Russian aggression while while dealing with inflation, COVID-19 weariness, and dwindling approval ratings as the midterm elections approach.

Biden will travel to Wisconsin on Wednesday in an attempt to capitalize on the energy generated by his speech by demonstrating that his domestic program is working. His vice president and cabinet members will disseminate the message across the country.

Biden returns to an ancient bridge in need of repair, which has become a symbol for his administration, visible proof of the country he’s attempting to modernize. This time, it’s a wrought-iron bridge that spans the St. Louis Bay between Duluth, Minn., and Superior, Wisc.

The bridge will be replaced with funding from the huge infrastructure package put into law last year, a bipartisan landmark piece of legislation and proof, according to Biden, that Republicans and Democrats can still work together.

In his statement on Tuesday, Biden praised the courage of Ukrainian defenders as well as a resurgent Western coalition that has fought to strengthen the Ukrainian military while crippling Russia’s economy through sanctions. He recognized the costs to the American economy as well, but ominously cautioned that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggressiveness would not be limited to Ukraine if there were no consequences.

“We’ve learned this lesson throughout history: when tyrants don’t pay a price for their violence, they produce greater disorder,” Biden added. “They continue to move.” And the costs and threats to America and the rest of the globe continue to rise.”

As Biden spoke, Russian forces were intensifying their attacks in Ukraine, bombing the country’s second-largest city’s center plaza and Kyiv’s major television tower, killing at least five people. The Holocaust memorial at Babi Yar was also harmed.

In retribution for the invasion of Ukraine, Biden stated that the United States will follow Canada and the European Union in barring Russian jets from its airspace. He also announced the formation of a task force to pursue Russian billionaires, whom he described as “corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars from this brutal state.”

“We’re coming for your ill-gotten wealth,” he declared, promising that the US and its European allies will go after their boats, luxury residences, and private aircraft.

In his remarks, Biden shifted his focus from international issues to domestic ones. Prices for American households have been rising even before the Russian invasion brought energy bills soaring, and the COVID-19 epidemic is still doing havoc on families and the economy.

Biden presented proposals to combat inflation by reinvesting in American industrial capacity, speeding up supply chains, and relieving employees of the burden of childcare and eldercare.

“Too many families are straining to make ends meet,” Biden stated. “Inflation is depriving them of any advantages they could have reaped otherwise.” I understand. That is why bringing pricing under control is my main concern.”

As coronavirus infections fall and new federal guidelines seeks to coax the public back to pre-pandemic activities, Biden entered the House chamber without a mask, signaling national progress on the pandemic. However, there remained traces of continued tension: following last year’s insurgency, the Capitol was freshly enclosed due to security concerns.

The White House had envisioned Tuesday night’s address as an opportunity to emphasize the better coronavirus outlook, promote Biden’s domestic policy goals, and demonstrate a route to decrease costs for families dealing with surging inflation in the face of unrest at home and peril abroad. Last week’s Russian invasion of Ukraine and Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling, however, shifted the focus to foreign issues.

One Cabinet secretary was kept in a safe location during the address, in this case Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, as is typical, ready to take over the government in the event of a disaster.

The State of the Union address is usually delivered to a national audience, but this year’s event drew worldwide attention. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked Biden to give a forceful and “useful” message against Russia’s aggression in an interview with CNN and Reuters. Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova joined first lady Jill Biden in the House gallery for the address in a display of togetherness.

Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado cried out that Biden was to responsible for the 13 military members murdered during the tumultuous U.S. exit from Afghanistan in August in a rare moment of dissent.

“You’re the one who put them in.” “Thirteen of them!” cried Boebert when Biden addressed his late son Beau, a veteran who died of brain cancer after serving near hazardous military burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Biden is working on legislation to assist veterans who have been exposed to the elements or have suffered severe ailments.

While the crisis in Eastern Europe may have helped to calm partisan tensions in Washington, it didn’t eliminate the political and cultural divisions that have raised doubts about Biden’s capacity to deliver.

According to a February AP-NORC survey, 55 percent of voters disapprove of Biden’s job performance, while 44 percent approve. This is down from a positive rating of 60% in July.

Biden used his speech to emphasize accomplishments from a year ago — with the majority of the US population now immunized and millions more people working — but he also noted that the job isn’t done yet, expressing American dissatisfaction.

Biden stated, “I have come to report on the status of the union.” “And this is my report: The condition of the union is strong—because you, the people of the United States, are strong.” We are now more powerful than we were a year ago. And a year from now, we’ll be stronger than we are now.”

With increasing inflation, growing crime, and a resurgent Russia, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who was chosen to give the Republican answer, said Biden’s message seemed more like the 1980s than today.

“Even before taking the oath of office, the president stated that he intended to re-establish America’s global prestige and to bring us all together.” “On both counts, he’s failed,” she added.

After the coronavirus changed American life, Biden used his address to encourage the country back to “more typical routines.”

He proclaimed, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and populate our magnificent downtowns again.” People will be able to request more free tests from the government, and his administration will initiate a “test to treat” effort, which will distribute free antiviral medications to anyone who test positive for the virus at pharmacies.

Last year, Biden delivered a speech to Congress that included a big social spending program; this year, he mostly rehashed previous promises in the hopes of gaining bipartisan approval in a severely divided Congress before the elections.

The president also cited November’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which included investments in everything from internet broadband access to bridge building, as an example of government reaching an agreement and creating progress for the country.

As part of his pitch to voters, he emphasized how policies like extending the child tax credit and lowering child care fees might help families cope with rising expenditures. His climate change measures, he claimed, would slash prices for low- and middle-income households while also creating new employment.

Biden spoke for decreasing health-care costs, touting his proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription medication pricing, as well as an extension of more generous health-care subsidies presently available via the Affordable Care Act markets, where 14.5 million people obtain coverage.

Biden also called for action on voting rights, which has been met with Republican opposition. As gun violence has increased, he has reintroduced calls to prohibit assault rifles, a demand he hadn’t raised in months. “Fund the police with the resources and training they require to safeguard our neighborhoods,” he demanded.

He led a bipartisan homage to departing Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in Congress, and he emphasized federal judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s background as his choice to be the first Black woman on the court.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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