History is watching: Biden’s State of the Union address

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President Biden delivers his State of the Union address on March 8. Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson sat behind him. (AP Photo)

President Joe Biden stood before Congress and the nation on March 8 to deliver his term’s final State of the Union address.

“This is no ordinary moment,” he said.

One of the major themes of his address was the “attack on democracy at home and abroad.”

He first spoke about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Biden assured Americans that Russian president Vladimir Putin wouldn’t stop at Ukraine.

He promised to keep American soldiers out of the conflict, but then issued a direct message to Putin himself: “We will not walk away, we will not bow down. I will not bow down.”

Biden cited the events that transpired at the nation’s capital on Jan. 6, 2021 as another event which “put a dagger to the throat of American democracy.”

He pleaded with Congress members to come together to respect free and fair elections, restore trust in American institutions and clarify there is no tolerance for political violence in the U.S. 

Biden’s third and final example of an attack on American democracy was the overturn of Roe v. Wade. He shared anecdotes from a few women in attendance who had been affected by the Supreme Court decision.

Biden promised to reinstate Roe v. Wade if “America sends him a Congress who supports the right to choose.” 

He listed several national improvements — and promises of improvements. 15 million jobs have been created in the last three years and inflation has dropped from 9% to 3%, which is the lowest rate in the world, he said.

BYU economics professor Lars Lefgren said whenever someone uses superlative language to describe the economy, it’s likely hyperbole. 

“The U.S. inflation rate has come down dramatically over the past couple of years,” Lefgren said. “And in recent months has been lower than those in the European Union, which is a reasonable comparison.”

However, there are countries, such as Japan, that have lower inflation rates, Lefgren said.

Biden also expressed a desire to cap prescription payments to $2,000 a year for every American, extending an open invite to anyone to come and fly with him on Air Force One to Berlin, Toronto and Moscow to get their prescription drugs at 40% of the cost they’re currently paying.

Biden maintained he is a “lifelong supporter of Israel” and condemned Hamas for the events of Oct. 7, 2023. He pled for protection of innocent civilians in Gaza, called for a ceasefire in Palestine and voiced support for a two-state solution to the conflict.

Biden also said he wants to direct the U.S. Military to build a temporary pier on Gaza so humanitarian assistance can be shipped onto the strip. Israel must allow for aid, he said.

Biden concluded his speech by reminding listeners he was the vice president to the first Black U.S. president and the first president to the first female vice president. Biden said he believes in America and the American people.

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