In State of the Union speech, Biden challenges Republicans on debt and economy According to Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden reads his State of the Union Address before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, U.S., March 1, 2022. Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS/ File Photo

By Jeff Mason, Nandita Bose and Gram Slattery

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Tuesday challenged Republicans to lift the U.S. debt ceiling and advocate for tax policies more friendly to the American middle class in his Message. Confederation is seen as the blueprint for his 2024 re-election campaign.

Attacking high-margin oil companies and American companies taking advantage of consumers, Biden used his prime-time speech to outline his Democratic Party’s progressive priorities, which have been largely ignored. hated by many Republican lawmakers.

Speaking before a joint session of Congress for the first time since Republicans took control of the House in January, Biden pledged to work with opposition lawmakers even as he sparred with them in the chamber. meeting.

“Dear my Republican friends, if we can work together in the last Congress, there’s no reason why we can’t work together and find consensus on what’s going to happen,” he said. as important as in this Parliament.

Some Republicans sometimes mocked and mocked him during the speech, which lasted about 73 minutes.

Biden took on them, challenging Republicans to raise the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, which must be lifted in the coming months to avoid default. The White House said Biden would not negotiate that necessity; Republicans want to cut spending in exchange for their support.

“Some of my Republican friends want to hold the economy hostage – I get it – unless I agree with their economic plans. All of you at home should know what those plans are. Instead of making the rich pay their fair share, some Republicans . . . want Medicare and Social Security to shut down,” he said, drawing boos.

He then urged lawmakers to stand up for the elderly, which they did, prompting Biden to claim victory. “I love the transition,” he quips, suggesting that cuts to social safety net programs popular with voters are now out of the question.

The back and forth underscores Biden’s apparent comfort in Congress, where he participated in the debates as a US senator for 36 years.

“Joe Biden sparring with the crowd and winning is not what I expected,” former Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican, wrote on Twitter.

The president called for policing reform after Tire Nichols, a Black man, died last month after being beaten by officers in Memphis, Tennessee. Nichols’ mother and stepfather were among the guests in the speech.

Highlighting topics that could feature in the re-election campaign, Biden said the economy is benefiting from 12 million new jobs, COVID-19 is no longer in control of American lives and American democracy. The United States remains intact despite facing the greatest threat since the Civil War.

“Today, despite the bruises, our democracy remains unyielding and unbroken,” he said.

As a candidate in 2020 and at his inauguration in 2021, shortly after the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, Biden said he wanted to unify the country. And he’s stuck to that theme, highlighting a massive infrastructure bill and teasing Republican lawmakers who oppose it.

“I want to thank my Republican friends for voting on this legislation,” he said. “My Republican friends voted against it… I’m still asked to fund projects in those counties, but don’t worry, I’ve promised that I’ll be president of the United States. all Americans.”


Despite his efforts, Biden remains unpopular.

His public approval rating jumped one percentage point higher to 41% in the Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll ending Sunday. This is close to the lowest level of his presidency, with 65% of Americans saying they believe the country is going in the wrong direction, compared with 58% a year earlier.

Similarly, in the fall of 2020, when Donald Trump was president, 65% of registered voters believed the country was headed in the wrong direction, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as Trump’s press secretary, dismissed Biden’s optimistic vision of the country in the Republican response to his speech.

“In far-left America, Washington taxes you and burns your hard-earned money. But you’re crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves, and our children are taught to hate each other because of their race,” Sanders said in his televised address.

Biden aides see the speech as a major milestone ahead of the second presidential campaign he is expected to launch in the next few weeks.

Biden turns 80 in November and, if re-elected, will be 82 at the start of his second term, a fact that worries many Democratic voters, recent polls show.


Biden faces a small group of Republican lawmakers who are eager to express their conservative views on U.S. policy after four years of Democratic control of the House.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican who has faced challenges unifying lawmakers from his party, sat behind Biden for the first time in his speech. “Mr. Speaker, I don’t want to ruin your reputation, but I look forward to working with you,” Biden said, making everyone laugh.

McCarthy and Vice President Kamala Harris smiled and chatted on the podium before Biden arrived.

I respect the other side,” McCarthy said earlier Tuesday in a video. “I can disagree on policy. But I want to make sure that this country is stronger, economically healthy, energy independent, safe and responsible.”

Some Republican lawmakers in the House have questioned Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential race against Trump, vowing to investigate the Cabinet and his family.

Biden praised the resilience and strength of the US economy, with the unemployment rate falling to a nearly 54-year low in January.

He criticized corporations profiting from the pandemic and offered a list of desired economic proposals, many of which are unlikely to pass Congress. They include a minimum tax rate for billionaires and a quadruple tax on corporate stock buybacks.

Biden was particularly critical of the profits of oil companies. “I think it’s outrageous,” he said. He said the United States would need oil for at least another decade, prompting laughter from some in the room.

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