In his second State of the Union address Tuesday, President Joe Biden highlighted how our country is “always moving forward … never giving up.”
Presidents use this platform to sell their accomplishments – and make a case for future plans. And Biden is eager to shift the conversation from his political troubles, such as the classified document fiasco or the recent Chinese spy balloon uproar.
This was Biden’s best chance to talk frankly with the country – and set the tone with a new and divided Congress. But the big-government solutions he offered failed to adequately address pressing concerns, including the ongoing financial difficulties faced by many citizens.
And his words may have deepened political division, despite his calls for unity.
It’s all about the economy
The economy remains one of Biden’s biggest challenges, despite his sunny picture of the improving outlook. Americans aren’t convinced that all is hunky-dory.
Inflation is still at 40-year highs, and interest rates are up as the Fed seeks to combat rising prices. While the inflation rate is gradually decreasing, many people are still struggling with buying their groceries and paying their bills.
‘Inflation reduction’ bill?:Don’t buy Democrats’ fantastical twisting of reality
And just as before the midterm elections, voters are saying they’re worried.
In December, a USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll found 45% of registered voters said the country was in a recession; 15% said it was in a depression; 20% identified stagnation.
That’s hardly a rosy picture.
Similarly, a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found 40% of Americans say they’re worse off financially under Biden, the highest number in nearly 40 years of the poll.
Bigger government not the answer
As Biden moves toward a formal reelection announcement, dissatisfaction with the economy – along with other factors, including the president’s age (now 80) – is leading many voters, including Democrats, to seek another option.
Rather than offer ideas that could further ease inflation or earn the support of the GOP-controlled House, Biden instead made a hollow call for Republicans to “work together” with him by aiding Big Labor, raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, and extending social programs.
Jobs top concern for Latinos:The Latino State of the Union – Biden has done a lot for us, but fails on immigration
These are “solutions” more in line with far-left progressives and a nonstarter for conservatives. Plus, additional taxing and spending would only put more pressures on an already fragile economy.
What does ‘unity’ mean to Biden?
Throughout his presidency, Biden has paid lip service to the ideals of bipartisanship and unity. And he has painted himself as someone who can work across the aisle and get deals done.
“The people sent us a clear message,” Biden said Tuesday. “Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere.”
Those words will be put to the test. During the first two years of his presidency, Biden didn’t have to work with a divided Congress. Now he does, and it’s already looking dicey.
Biden must compromise on national debt:If Democrats fail to negotiate with GOP on debt, it’s America’s future that’s held hostage
Just weeks into his new leadership role, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has made it clear that he’s planning to use raising the debt ceiling as leverage for budget cuts. Biden and Democrats, however, have said that there’s no way they’re going to give in to demands or negotiations.
This is a great opportunity for Biden to live up to his lofty goals, but I doubt he’ll rise to the challenge.
Biden looks to 2024, not working with GOP
Some compromise is going to be necessary on both sides, and I’m sure Biden doesn’t want to push the country to the brink of default just as there are some signs of economic improvement.
Yet despite his calls for unity and preserving the “soul of the nation,” Biden has contributed to the country’s division. In a speech last fall, he called most Republicans – anyone who buys into the “MAGA” philosophy – semi-fascists. He continued digs against the GOP in this speech, too.
In advocating his “blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America,” Biden in the State of the Union did not offer a bipartisan agenda. Rather, he laid the groundwork for his 2024 campaign.
Ingrid Jacques is a columnist at USA TODAY. Contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques
More from Ingrid Jacques:
Will Nikki Haley 2024 presidential race benefit Republican Party – or Donald Trump?
DeSantis wants to give Florida college students an anti-woke option. What’s the big deal?
Where’s Kamala? After all the hoopla and ‘firsts,’ the VP isn’t living up to the hype
Story Credit: usatoday.com