Biden Makes His Case in State of the Union Address

President makes his third such address to the nation
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2024 8:48 PM CST
Updated Mar 7, 2024 9:37 PM CST
Biden Makes His Case in State of the Union Address
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Thursday March 7, 2024, in Washington   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Whether this will be President Biden's final State of the Union address remains to be seen, but in his third such address to the nation Thursday night, he made his case for a second term in a 67-minute address. Standout details:

  • He opened with a joke: Amid the lengthy claps and cheers that greeted him he quipped, "If I were smart, I'd go home now!"
  • He went straight to Ukraine: Biden quickly described freedom and democracy as under attack both at home and overseas. He cited Russia, saying Putin certainly won't stop with Ukraine, but that Putin could be stopped if the US provides Ukraine with the weapons it seeks. He said assistance is being blocked by those who "want to walk away from our world leadership. ... We will not bow down. I will not bow down!"
  • A much used-phrase: Biden said "History is watching" repeatedly, at one point saying it's "not hyperbole" to say that.

  • One absent word: Trump. Biden did not utter his name though many references to the former president (whom Biden referred to as "my predecessor") were made. Biden also brought up the Jan. 6 insurrection. "You can't love your country only when you win," said Biden, to lengthy applause.
  • Highlight on accomplishments: He talked about "America's comeback" in the wake of the pandemic. He said the vaccines that saved us from COVID are now being used to fight cancer, turning "setback to comeback." He cited millions of new jobs, unemployment at record lows, and inflation's drop from 9% to 3%.
  • Calls for action: Biden pushed for action on IVF, calling for a nationwide guarantee to access to it. He advocated for the restoration of Roe v. Wade and the right to choose. He said he was ending the "wrong" reality that sees Americans pay more for prescription drugs than anywhere in the world. He addressed interest rates, saying he wanted to provide a two-year tax break of $400 a month for first-time buyers or homeowners seeking more space. He said he wanted to give public school teachers a raise.
  • Calls for action, II: "Folks at home, does anyone think the tax code is fair?" he asked, saying big corporations need to begin paying their fair share and that the corporate minimum tax should be raised to 21%. If anyone tries to raise the retirement age or cut Social Security, "I will stop you," said Biden.
  • Calls for action, III: As for border security, "get this bill done," he said of the failed bipartisan border deal. "We need to act now." He brought up the Israel-Hamas war, saying he would not rest until all the hostages are home. He said Israel has a fundamental responsibility to protect innocent citizens in Gaza and said that while no US boots will be on the ground, the US will erect a temporary pier on the Gaza coast so that more aid can be delivered to Gaza.

  • His standout reference to Trump: "I know it may not look like it, but I've been around awhile. ... My lifetime has taught me to embrace freedom and democracy. A future based on core values that have defined America: honesty, decency, dignity, equality. To respect everyone. To give everyone a fair shot. To give hate no safe harbor. Now other people my age see a different story: an American story of resentment, revenge, and retribution. That's not me."
  • More: "In my career I've been told I'm too young and I'm too old. Whether young or old, I've always known our North Star. ... That we are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives. We've never fully lived up to that idea, but we've never walked away from it either. And I won't walk away from it now. My fellow Americans the issue facing our nation isn't how old we are it's how old our ideas are? Hate, anger, revenge, retribution are among the oldest of ideas. But you can't lead America with ancient ideas that only take us back. To lead America, the land of possibilities, you need a vision for the future of what America can and should be."
  • The stakes: The AP predicted the speech would be "something of an on-the-job interview," with voters watching to see if the 81-year-old delivered the address with "vigor and command."
  • Working for the middle class: From CNN: "The entire speech has a populist strain, going back to working for the middle class. The White House wants people to walk away from speech believing Biden understands their issues, cares about what they care about, and is actively working to make their lives better."
(More State of the Union address stories.)

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