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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

State of the Union address highlights Biden administration priorities, bipartisanship

Leo Woods
A member of The Suffolk Journal watches Biden give the State of the Union address.

President Joe Biden addressed Congress in the second State of the Union address of his presidency Feb. 7, where he touted his administration’s legislative successes of the past two years and encouraged Congress to “finish the job” on a number of policy issues.

Biden took on a casual tone in addressing the American people and members of Congress, cracking jokes and addressing members directly from the podium.

A noticeable difference from Biden’s first State of the Union was Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the newly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, who sat behind Biden with Vice President Kamala Harris during the address. Biden acknowledged the work of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to hold the role of Speaker, who stepped down from the role after serving for eight years.

Biden began the address by acknowledging the increased polarization within the United States, referencing the attempted insurrection that occurred at the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021. He was optimistic about the future of the nation, however, and focused on bipartisan support of legislation such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Biden signed into law on Nov. 15, 2021.

“Today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken,” Biden said. 

Biden touted his administration’s success in creating over 12.1 million new jobs across the U.S., “more jobs created in two years than any president has created in four years,” he claimed. The New York Times found that while the numbers were accurate, the rate at which Biden has added jobs falls behind his Democrat predecessors, an 8.5% increase compared to an 8.6% increase from President Barack Obama’s first term and a 10.5% increase from President Bill Clinton’s first term. 

Dr. Brian Conley, a professor in the political science and legal studies department at Suffolk University, saw Biden’s State of the Union as an attempt by the president to boost his approval rating, which a recent CNN poll found was 42%, compared to 53% of voters who disapprove of Biden’s job so far in the Oval Office.

“It was an opportunity for Biden to launch his second campaign,” Conley said.

Biden has not officially announced a 2024 bid for re-election, though he said in November following the midterm elections that he “intended” to run again. According to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 37% of Democrats want Biden to pursue a second term.

Conley said Biden’s address was an appeal to middle-class Americans, though the number of topics the president brought up during his speech may have unintentionally undermined the points he was trying to make about their importance to the administration.

“He ran the risk of touching upon too much,” Conley said.

Biden discussed over a dozen policy issues during his speech, including his economic plan, immigration and police reform. 

Republican reactions to Biden’s speech were difficult to ignore. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called Biden a “liar” after he claimed some members of the GOP were considering cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits, referencing a proposal from Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, which a majority of Republicans do not support, according to The Boston Globe

Though Biden repeatedly encouraged bipartisanship during his speech, Conley said the reactions from certain members made it clear that Biden has a difficult road ahead of him.

“The fiction of bipartisanship in Washington is falling apart,” Conley said. 

Conley added that, in contrast to public perception, polarization increases political participation, citing that people who are less partisan are less likely to pay attention or know what is going on in national politics.

Following the tradition of previous State of the Union addresses, Biden invited a number of guests to attend in order to highlight issues Biden would address in his speech, including RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, the mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols, who died after being severely beaten by police officers in Memphis, Tennessee; Brandon Tsay, a 26-year-old who disarmed the shooter responsible for killing 11 people in Monterey Park, California; and Paul Pelosi, husband of the former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who was severely injured after a man broke into their house with the intent to harm Rep. Pelosi.

Biden ended his address by assuring his confidence in the state of the U.S.

“With democracy, anything is possible,” Biden said.

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About the Contributor
Leo Woods, Photo Editor | he/him

Leo is a senior political science major with a minor in journalism from Clinton, Connecticut. He has photographed political events, protests, performing arts groups and documented Boston Pride for the People for the History Project. Outside of Suffolk, Leo is an avid Dungeons and Dragons player and podcast listener. After graduation, he plans on attending law school and working in politics.

Follow Leo on X @leowoods108

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State of the Union address highlights Biden administration priorities, bipartisanship