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Tags: State of the Union | Biden

Joe Biden's SOTU Appeal to a Divided US: Work With Me

(Getty Images)

Tuesday, 07 February 2023 10:05 PM EST

President Joe Biden touted America's "unbroken" democracy and resurgent economy in an optimistic State of the Union speech Tuesday -- as he sought to persuade skeptical voters that at 80 he still has what it takes to takes to run for reelection.

Biden's address before Congress and tens of millions of television viewers was a chance for the Democrat, who is expected soon to announce a bid for a second term, to pitch his centrist, populist vision of a country healing after COVID and the turmoil of Donald Trump's presidency.

Referring to Trump's attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, Biden said that the United States had survived "its greatest threat since the Civil War."

"Today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken," Biden said.

Biden touted surging employment figures and told Americans that his economic plan aims to rebuild the country's manufacturing base despite pressure from the Ukraine war and pandemic disruptions.

"We're better positioned than any country on Earth right now," he said.

For decades, "manufacturing jobs moved overseas, factories closed down," Biden said.

"Jobs are coming back. Pride is coming back," he said. "This is my view of a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America."

Among Biden's proposals in the speech was a new "billionaire tax" he said was designed to "reward work, not just wealth."

And he hit out at big oil companies he accused of making "outrageous" profits.

"I ran for president to fundamentally change things to make sure our economy works for everyone, so we can all feel that pride," Biden said.

Amid deep political divisions, Biden urged Republicans now holding the majority in the House of Representatives to show unity -- as he accused some among them of taking the US economy "hostage" over the debt ceiling.

A major crisis is brewing in Congress over Republican refusal to extend the debt limit, usually a rubber stamp procedure. Biden's government warns of financial calamity, with major international implications, if Republicans stick to their guns, potentially pushing the United States into default.

"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," Biden said.

- Biden 'excuses' -

Delivering the Republican rebuttal to Biden, former Trump White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders lashed out at the "radical left" and what she said was an attack against the "freedom and peace" of patriotic Americans.

"It's crazy and it's wrong," said Sanders, who has been elected governor of Arkansas since leaving Trump's administration and is a rising star on the right.

The White House announced the guests of First Lady Jill Biden for the speech will include Ukraine's ambassador, Oksana Markarova, and rock band mega star and HIV/AIDS campaigner Bono.

The most eye-catching, though, was Brandon Tsay, the 26-year-old man who disarmed the gunman in a January mass shooting in California, and RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, the parents of Tyre Nichols, a man whose death after a prolonged police beating in Memphis, Tennessee, shocked the nation.

Biden had good news to tout on Tuesday.

Inflation, which just a few months ago seemed a near-existential threat to his presidency, is steadily ticking downward. On Friday, new figures showed joblessness hitting a half-century low.

Even if Biden has yet to formally announce his 2024 candidacy, the speech -- followed by two very campaign-like trips Wednesday and Thursday to Wisconsin and Florida -- is expected to give him a big push.

But last week's Chinese balloon drama -- a US warplane shot down what officials say was a high-tech espionage device on Saturday -- shows how narratives in Washington easily take dangerous new turns.

And when Biden spoke, half of the Congress members in the chamber, as well as Speaker Kevin McCarthy sitting directly behind him, were Republicans vowing to use their new, narrow House majority to block his policies.

Those kinds of uncertainties, as well as doubts over Biden's ability to serve a second term that would end after his 86th birthday, may be partly to blame for pessimism in a slew of new polls. An ABC News-Washington Post Poll found that 58 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said the party should find someone else for 2024.

© AFP 2023

President Joe Biden in his State of the Union address Tuesday night called on Republicans to work with him to "finish the job" of rebuilding the economy and uniting the nation as he seeks to overcome pessimism in the country and navigate political divisions.
State of the Union, Biden
Tuesday, 07 February 2023 10:05 PM
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