President Joe Biden Delivers State of the Union Address Amid Balloon Controversy

On Jan. 13, President Joe Biden delivered his second State of the Union Address. With a likely reelection campaign ahead and a majority of Americans believing he hasn’t accomplished much, Biden boasted his administration’s successes in a high-stakes moment for his presidency.

As many Americans grapple with the risk of a looming recession, Biden made the economy a key point during his speech.

For starters, the Biden administration takes credit for 12 million new jobs and a 50-year low record unemployment rate.

Biden stated, “More jobs created in two years than any president has created in four years.” Further, Biden addressed the spike in gas and food prices as he reassured Americans inflation is now decreasing under his administration.

Biden also reflected on the state of healthcare, specifically under the Affordable Care Act. With 16 million people enrolled in the Affordable Care Act, Biden advocated for making those savings permanent and expanding coverage of Medicaid.

Additionally, Biden promoted the successes of the Inflation Reduction Act as some Republican House members threaten to repeal the bill.

Moreover, Biden used this time to take a jab at the Republican Party as multiple Representatives have made calls for slashing Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Biden stated, “…instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset.”

In light of his recent presidential campaign announcement, Biden also made mention of former President Donald Trump, saying, “No president added more to the national debt in any four years than my predecessor.”

Further, Biden reflected on the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

With covid-related deaths down by 90 percent, Biden took a moment to remember the more than one million lives lost while encouraging Congress to continue funding new vaccines and treatments.

Biden called to “double down on prosecuting criminals who stole relief money meant to keep workers and small businesses afloat.”

In recent news, a young Black man named Tyre Nichols was mortally wounded in a beating by five officers from the Memphis, Tennessee Police Department. Biden invited the Nichols family to address the recent events of police brutality as he called for increasing law enforcement training and mental health resources, as well as holding officers to higher standards.

During this time, Biden reflected on the steps his administration has taken in combating police brutality. He stated, “I signed an executive order for all federal officers banning chokeholds, restricting no-knock warrants and other key elements of the George Floyd Act.”

Biden also denounced recent acts of gun violence and emphasized his role in the success of the 1994 assault weapons ban in a call to “ban assault weapons now.”

Biden continued onto the issue of immigration, which has been ever growing throughout his administration. As the fentanyl epidemic becomes increasingly dangerous for Americans, Biden cited the seizure of over 23,000 pounds of fentanyl in just the last several months by border personnel. Fentanyl overdoses have killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

With this in mind, Biden called on Congress to launch a major surge that stops fentanyl production, sale, and trafficking with additional drug detection machines.

Similarly, as the border crisis becomes increasingly severe, Biden cited a decrease of 97 percent in unlawful migration from the countries of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Biden urged Congress to pass his comprehensive immigration reform and allow a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those on temporary status, farm workers, and essential workers.

Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the issue of abortion has taken priority within the Democratic Party.
Biden asked Congress to restore a woman’s right to abortion on a federal level as more than a dozen states have enforced strict abortion bans. Biden also promoted his bipartisan equality act that increase protections for LGBTQ+ Americans during a time when several states are currently passing legislation to limit the rights of ind ividuals in this community.

With talks of a TikTok ban reentering the news cycle, Biden took a stance on social media and the privacy of Americans, “It’s time to pass bipartisan legislation to stop big tech from collecting personal data on kids and teenagers online, ban targeted advertising to children, and impose stricter limits on the personal data that companies collect on all of us.”

Biden addressed the state of international relations as he reflected on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Biden praised the unity of NATO and the United States’ relationship with Ukraine as the U.S. continues to aid Ukraine in its fight against Russian forces.

Toward the end of his speech, Biden discussed the competition between the United States and China. He emphasized that the United States’ stance to maintain competition does not conflict with China as both nations continue to increase innovation.

The speech comes only days after Biden ordered the U.S. Air Force to shoot down a Chinese balloon flying over U.S. territorial waters off the coast of South Carolina. Biden reiterated, “If China threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country.”