2023 State of the Union

Finn Harrison, Managing Editor of Politics


On February 7, 2023, President Biden addressed the nation at the annual State of the Union amidst one of the busier news weeks of his Presidency leaving him with much to address.

Just ahead of the President’s speech to the joint session of Congress, a balloon was spotted hovering above the contiguous United States. The balloon was later determined to be a Chinese spy device, leading the President to have it shot down after it had exited American airspace over the Atlantic. The move had sparked criticism amongst Republicans who thought it should’ve been shot down earlier. This is all in light of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned trip to China which has now been canceled in the wake of the balloon. This has led many to question the state of Sino-American relations. With the current geopolitical situation being as hectic as it is with the war in Ukraine, many are concerned with this turn of events. After all, China supporting Russia in the Ukraine war is the last thing the Biden administration wants. 

In addition to this, the President also had something to brag about. On February 3, the Department of Labor released its jobs report for January indicating that 517, 000 jobs had been generated safely avoiding claims of a Post-COVID recession.

The President started out his speech on a humorous note, telling the newly elected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, “I don’t want to ruin your reputation, but I look forward to working with you,” poking fun at the partisanship that consumed the Republican Speaker’s election. This would set the tone for what would appear to be a relatively jovial speech compared to the resentful jeering of the Republicans in the chamber. At various points throughout his speech, the President was heckled, especially, by the more extreme members of the opposition party. At one point, the President criticized plans by certain Republicans to sunset social security and medicare, which caused vocal uproar and denial among the Republican members of the crowd leading the President to quip back “apparently it’s not going to be a problem.” Throughout the heckling, though, the President kept his calm, emphasizing the bipartisan stance he has maintained in his half-century-long political career. However, the Republican’s reaction clearly showed that the era of bipartisanship that the President had hailed from, was no longer. 

Despite the heckling, the President was able to point to some of his major policy achievements over the past year. He pointed to the American Rescue Plan Act as being the reason for the strong jobs reports. He also mentioned the economy’s growth following the Inflation Reduction Act which was passed over the Summer and is by far Biden’s biggest piece of legislation to date. He also touted that the deficit had been reduced by a trillion dollars, comparing it to his predecessor who had increased the deficit every year. Additionally, the President reassured the chamber and the world of his commitment to Ukraine as he has many times prior. The Ukrainian ambassador was even in the audience. 

In the end, his speech, while emphasizing his accomplishments, attempted to veer away from partisanship by focusing on the bipartisan support for Ukraine and the various bipartisan bills that Biden had compromised to get passed. So, while even faced with partisan vitriol and an unprecedented crisis abroad, the President in his speech maintained his attempt to unify rather than going on the offensive.