Biden boasts of low unemployment and bipartisan achievements in State of the Union address
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden told Congress on Tuesday that the state of the union is strong and getting stronger in his third annual prime-time House Chamber address since taking office and in the prospect of a likely announcement that he will stand for re-election.
“We are the only country that has come out of every crisis stronger than when we entered it,” Biden said. “Listen folks, that’s what we still do.”
Biden, whose endorsement count has rebounded dramatically since last summer when more Americans disapproved of him than approved by a 20-point margin, took to the stage to brag about an economy that has recouped the millions of jobs it lost during the COVID-19 pandemic and could gain millions more in years to come thanks to $2 trillion in investments in high tech, green energy and infrastructure he has built during his two years in power.
“Look at the progress we’ve made, especially the recent progress we’ve made with inflation coming down, gasoline prices coming down, real wages, therefore, going up,” Brian Deese said. , Biden’s director of the National Economic Council. “We have come through this recovery reclaiming people’s economic security historically fast and historically fair. And we have to keep making progress on that.
Biden, who turned 80 in November, has said for months that he intended to seek a second term but did not feel pressured to make a firm decision until this year.
Last spring and summer, following a chaotic withdrawal of US military forces from Afghanistan and amid soaring inflation rates, Biden’s approval numbers plummeted in the mid-1990s. 30. But after inflation began to subside, the Supreme Court struck down the national abortion law, and former President Donald Trump, attempting a coup, inserted himself into the national conversation, Biden had the best midterm election performance of any president in decades.
Republicans barely won back the House, rather than winning 40 or 50 seats, as they had expected, and lost a seat in the Senate — results that Biden and his team attribute to his leadership.
“He has a track record over the past two years that shows he has kept his promises,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary.
As presidents have done historically, Biden has been and continues to take credit for improvements in the economy that had little to do with his policies.
Taking office just as the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic was passing, Biden took over at a time when the economy and the government’s financial situation realistically had nowhere to go but on the upswing. . Millions of people returned to work, and the federal government phased out social benefits to prevent businesses and their employees from going bankrupt while much of the economy was shut down.
Today, some 12 million more Americans are employed than on the day of his inauguration, while the federal deficit has shrunk by $1.7 trillion.
However, the flip side of taking credit for the economy’s successes is being blamed for its problems.
Most Americans, according to polls, remain worried about the economy, despite record unemployment, largely because of still-high inflation. Many economists believe this is partly because Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago drove up oil prices and partly because of all the money the government has put in in the pockets of Americans to ward off depression during the pandemic.
Biden, of course, did not encourage Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s invasion, and of the $5.7 trillion the government has spent on COVID response and relief payments as of March 2020, 67% took place before his administration.
Republican pollster Neil Newhouse said Americans’ displeasure with the state of affairs is understandable. “It’s not because people can’t find jobs, it’s because the money they get isn’t enough to make ends meet or move on,” he said. “Marching in place economically isn’t good enough for most Americans.”
David Axelrod, the Democratic consultant who helped Barack Obama win two presidential terms, agreed that the cost of living affected opinions, but also questioned how much unease the pandemic left behind. “I believe there is lingering anxiety about a pandemic that has impacted the way we work and the way workplaces are structured, which may add to the stew of discontent,” he said. he declared.
Biden and his team point out that inflation is not limited to the United States and that we are better off than most. “If you go around the world, if you talk to heads of state, see heads of state, CEOs, other leaders, they will tell you, you know, the United States is really in a better position than almost any other country,” Deese said. said.
The concrete results of three key pieces of legislation he has pushed through Congress since taking office are likely more important to Biden’s success going forward: a $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan, the CHIPS and the $280 billion Science Act to bring silicon microprocessor research and manufacturing back to the United States and, most recently, the $485 billion “Cut Inflation Act”, much of it promotes the development of alternative energies.
“This is a year of action, investment and implementation where in those areas,” Deese said, “you’re going to see this unfold more and more.”