President Biden giving his State of the Union Address, flanked by VP Harris and Speaker Pelosi
Category: Discovery & Impact, General News

Title: Six winners and losers from Biden’s first State of the Union

Date Published: March 2, 2022
Ukrainian soldier holding the Ukraine flag

Foreign Policy

 

Winner: Diplomacy

President Biden began his address standing before House and Senate members of both parties who were clutching mini Ukrainian flags, sporting pins and wearing blue and yellow attire. Biden highlighted the tremendous unity at home and among allies abroad in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and in condemnation of Russia’s military invasion six days ago, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin “thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. He thought he could divide us at home, in this Chamber and in this nation. He thought he could divide us in Europe as well. But Putin was wrong.”

Biden noted months of diplomacy devoted to coalition building with ”other freedom-loving nations in Europe and the Americas to the Asian and African continents to confront Putin.” The president made it clear that U.S. troops would not fight in Ukraine but would “defend our NATO allies in the event that Putin decides to keep moving west.” To that end, Biden said that “the United States and our allies will defend every inch of territory that is NATO territory with the full force of our collective power.”

Loser: Russia

Biden did not mince words about the hardships to come for Ukraine and seemed to be preparing the public for what could be a brutal outcome when he said, “the next few days, weeks and months will be hard [on Ukraine]. Putin has unleashed violence and chaos. But while he may make gains on the battlefield, he will pay a continuing high price over the long run.” The cost, in addition to sanctions leveled so far, included a new announcement by the president that U.S. airspace would close, effective immediately, to all Russian aircraft and a new Justice Department task force would investigate Russian oligarchs “who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime.” Biden specified that U.S. officials would seize “their yachts, their luxury apartments, their private jets…[their] ill-begotten gains” and painted a portrait of a cratering Russian economy with an isolated Putin squarely to blame.

Man building a car at manufacturing facility

Economy

Winner: American workers

In the midst of a hot hiring market, Biden laid the foundation for a flurry of well-paying new employment opportunities in a multitude of sectors, including construction for highway and bridge projects, the manufacturing of goods made in America to stem foreign supply chain woes and a manufacturing boom that promises a new sheen on the old Rust Belt. He called for lowering prescription drug prices, energy costs and child-care costs, and overhauling the tax system with the largest corporations paying more in federal taxes.

Loser: Time and certainty

The president sought to reassure Americans when he said, “we’re going to be ok.” But the president was clear: “A Russian dictator, invading a foreign country, has costs around the world.” Biden announced he would release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve while allies released more abroad to “help blunt gas prices here at home.” He acknowledged that Americans have been hit hard by inflation but his combination of policies to “lower costs, not wages” will clearly take time.

Medical worker and medical supplies at a COVI9-19 testing site

COVID-19

Winner: Optimism

Biden entered the House Chamber maskless, as did most others present, offering the American public the clearest visual in two years that the toughest days of the pandemic are receding, as states move to lift COVID-19 restrictions amid falling infection and hospitalization rates. He announced what he called a “Test to Treat” plan that would allow pharmacies to dispense antiviral pills on the spot free to anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 and said Americans can once again order home testing kits from the government starting next week. “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,” he said.

Loser: Patience

Biden was blunt when he said, directly to the American people, “I know you’re tired, frustrated, and exhausted.” And to parents of the youngest Americans not yet eligible for vaccines, he sought to offer assurance: “The scientists are working hard to get that done and we’ll be ready with plenty of vaccines when they do.” The president said he would be asking Congress for additional funding to prepare for a possible resurgence. “If Congress provides the funds we need, we’ll have new stockpiles of tests, masks, and pills ready if needed. 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.”