Biden Lays Out Future in State of the Union

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Katie Gillis , Editor-in-Chief

Last Tuesday night, President Biden gave the first State of the Union address of his presidency. Despite the hardships that have occurred throughout his first year in office, including COVID-19, inflation and foreign conflicts, Biden’s address was one filled with optimism. 

To begin his speech, Biden highlighted the economic sanctions that the United States would be taking against Russia, urging the nation to stand with Ukraine. Biden has joined many European governments in imposing the harshest sanctions ever on Russia, blocking many Russian banks and oligarchs from partaking in global transactions. Since the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian economy has crumbled and the value of the Ruble is now worth less than one cent. However, Biden advised Americans not to fear the repercussions of these sanctions. He deems them necessary in order to stop Putin without military action. 

“I want you to know that we are going to be okay,” Biden said. “When the history of this era is written, Putin’s war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger.”

Biden then transitioned to his agenda for COVID-19 recovery, praising his own American Rescue Plan that was passed last year. The act has helped vaccinate millions of Americans, create over 6.5 million jobs and boost the economy by 5.7% during 2021. He also announced his new “Test to Treat” initiative which would allow those who test positive for COVID-19 to receive antiviral pills at no cost, which are said to reduce the chance of a hospital stay by 90%. He claims that while the nation must remain vigilant against COVID-19, the disease no longer dictates our lives. 

“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,” Biden said. “With 75% of adult Americans fully vaccinated and hospitalizations down by 77%, most Americans can remove their masks, return to work, stay in the classroom and move forward safely.”

Biden’s new COVID-19 treatment policy makes up only a small portion of his plan to limit the cost of healthcare in the United States; during his speech, he pledged to limit prescription drug costs, specifically cap the cost of insulin at $35 per month. Plus, the President aims to work to provide greater funds for Cancer research in an attempt to limit Cancer’s death rate by 50% over the next 25 years. 

Like many administrations before him, Biden has also promised to invest in domestic manufacturing. He highlighted companies like Ford and Intel, who plan to invest billions into new factories in order to create thousands of new jobs. Additionally, the President described his plans to improve American infrastructure by replacing lead pipes, increasing broadband access, creating 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations and repairing roads and bridges across the nation. 

“When we use taxpayer dollars to rebuild America – we are going to Buy American: buy American products to support American jobs,” Biden said. “Every Administration says they’ll do it, but we are actually doing it.”

Finally, Biden concluded his speech with one final push for bipartisanship and equality. He proposed a “Unity Agenda,” beginning with his nomination of Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Brown would become the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Additionally, Biden pushed for laws that would protect and maintain the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ+ community, despite recent attempts from some Conservative politicians to undermine laws such as Roe v. Wade. Furthermore, Biden proposed stronger support and benefits for veterans, such as rehabilitation for injuries, illnesses, mental health problems and addictions. 

The general public seems to have taken immediately to his ideas, as his approval rating shot up eight points to 47%. Although this type of improvement is not typical, Biden’s address has provided optimism to a nation which has been marked by disease and decline for the last two years. Despite Biden’s push for bipartisanship, however, Congress seemed more divided than ever. While Democrats applauded frequently during the address, most Republicans remained silent. Biden’s proposed agenda is ambitious, and a lack of Congressional support may not bode well for the majority of his plans.