2023 State of the Union Address

Posted by on Feb 16, 2023 in Government, Stuff You Should Know, United States

On Tuesday, February 7, 2023, President Joe Biden delivered this year’s State of the Union address in front of a joint session of Congress. The State of the Union is an annual speech that updates the nation on the economic and legislative achievements of the current administration, as well as the most important current issues. Here, btw takes a closer look at some of the key points of Biden’s speech, as well as the Republican response. 

“Let’s Finish the Job” 

Much of Biden’s speech focused on his administration’s accomplishments during the first two years of his term. Since 2020, three hundred bipartisan laws have been passed and over 20,000 infrastructure projects funded. Infrastructure refers to the physical foundation of a nation, such as roads, water supply, and telecommunications. Biden pointed out that the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 1969. He claimed that more jobs have been created under this administration than during any other. According to CNN fact-checking research, these statistics are true. The unemployment rate dropped from 6.3 percent in January 2021 to 3.4 percent in January 2023. The U.S. economy added 12.1 million jobs during this same period. But it is important to remember that many people were unemployed because of the pandemic and economic recession before Biden’s inauguration in 2021. This economic message is important because Biden is expected to announce soon that he will be running for re-election in 2024.   

The president also talked about the importance of Republicans and Democrats working together. (The Senate is controlled by Democrats but the House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans.). Biden emphasized the common ground between the two parties. For example, lawmakers from both political parties agree on priorities such as funding important cancer research.  

The president also used the speech to say that Republicans want to cut government spending for Medicare and Social Security to lower the national debt. The Republican Study Committee created a 2022 budget plan that proposed changes to the Social Security and Medicare programs. One change would be raising the Medicare eligibility age to match the age when you can receive Social Security benefits (67 years old for people born in or after 1960) These ideas would result in few years to receive the payments and a reduction in benefits received. But Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy said that these changes are not being pursued by the Republicans right now.  

Other Moments 

At the State of the Union speech, the president often invites guests to sit in the gallery with the First Lady. These guests are usually chosen in support of a political goal or point being made in the speech. Guests present this year included the mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols, who died after Memphis police violently beat him during an arrest on January 7. Biden said that Nichols’ death provides Congress another reason to pass more police reforms into law. Another guest was Brandon Tsay, who disarmed a gunman in Monterey Park, California, during a mass shooting in January. Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova was also a guest. This was the second year in a row that Ambassador Markarova attended the State of the Union address. 

The Republican Response 

Whenever a president delivers a State of the Union address, a representative of the opposing party delivers a response. This year, the Republican response was given in English by Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and in Spanish by Arizona Representative Juan Ciscomani. Ciscomani’s response focused on criticisms of the Biden administration’s economics and policy priorities. His goal was to discuss “pocketbook” issues that affect the public’s income—such as promoting better job strategies and addressing the rising prices caused by inflation.  

Sander’s criticism of the Biden administration was focused more on the different political goals that Republicans have versus Democrats. She described Biden’s political goals as a danger to traditional American values and a threat to people’s freedom. In their contrasting ways, both Ciscomani and Sanders tried to highlight how the Republican Party has a different way to address the economic, political, and social issues of the country. 

What Do You Think? In your opinion, what was the most important moment of Biden’s address? Explain.