Some choice excerpts from the media regarding Biden’s State of the Union Speech:
In “Joe Biden Reveals His Superpower: Acting Like a Pretty Normal Person,” Ben Mathis-Lilley writes at Slate: “He worked the crowd; he injected the word “folks” everywhere he could; he got mad and fired up. In what was largely a departure from the norm, he also played to the Republicans in attendance, goading them into peeved responses that he could then meet with a confident camaraderie…It made for a better speech. The presence of actual human energy in its early moments gave weight to the softer tone Biden took when he turned, in the second half of the night, to address matters of life and death—police brutality, foreign proxy war, and assault rifle massacres among them; you know, the modern-America subjects. This, in turn, contrasted with the patriotic verve of the evening’s quintessentially Bidenian conclusion, the Last True Idealist material that he takes such visible pleasure in delivering….An arc, a shape, a structure—a real speech, by a real-seeming human! It might even be the kind of thing you remember, years from now. Biden is surely hoping it can carry him, at least, through 2024″
“Feisty, combative and energetic, Biden seemed to relish in drawing a contrast with a Republican Party he treated at times with gentle but needling condescension, Alexander Nazaryan writes in “Energetic and pugnacious, Biden makes his case to the nation” at Yahoo News: “Lots of luck in your senior year,” he told GOP membersseeking to repeal last year’s Inflation Reduction Act….Pointing to the gain of 12 million jobs and record-low 3.4% unemployment, Biden argued that the United States had prevailed at a time when many other countries continued to flounder….“And to my Republican friends who voted against it but still ask to fund projects in their districts, don’t worry,” Biden said with evident delight. “I promised to be the president for all Americans. We’ll fund your projects. And I’ll see you at the ground-breaking.”
From “A populist Biden gave perhaps the best speech of his presidency” by Nicholas Kristoff at The New York Times: “A populist Biden gave perhaps the best speech of his presidency.Biden is most eloquent when he doesn’t try to be, when he’s the guy from a working-class family in Scranton, Pa., with a dad who bounced among jobs and struggled for paychecks but even more to retain his tattered dignity….That’s the populist Biden who delivered the State of the Union address, giving perhaps the best speech of his presidency….When Biden talks about giant companies failing to pay taxes or ripping off consumers with invisible fees or charging unconscionable sums for insulin, those are talking points that resonate everywhere….Biden’s populism won’t win Republican votes in the House, but they frame the partisan divide in an authentic way that advantages Democrats, and they remind us that America can’t succeed when so many Americans are falling behind.”
At The Atlantic, David Frum writes “How Biden Successfully Baited Congressional Republicans: The old man has learned some new tricks.” that “Partisanship, populism, and patriotism were his themes. The speech was strewn with traps carefully constructed to ensnare opponents. He opened with a tribute to bipartisanship, but the mechanics of his address were based on shrewd and unapologetic hyper-partisanship. He anticipated negative reactions in the chamber—and used them to reinforce his message….Obama came to national attention in 2004 with a speech about the essential political and cultural unity of the American people. Biden made a few nods to that notion, but he’s plainly not betting on it. Instead, he pushed Republicans on pain point after pain point. He mocked Republicans who voted against his infrastructure but still show up at the groundbreakings….Like a boxer trying to goad his antagonist into leaving open a vulnerable spot for a counterpunch, Biden’s plan was to invite Republicans to make dangerous mistakes. This was a speech not of lofty phrases but of cunning ploys; one not for the ages, but one that will reverberate long enough to make a difference in November 2024.”
Tal Axelrod reports at ABC News that Biden cited an “Unemployment rate at 3.4%, a 50-year low. Near record unemployment for Black and Hispanic workers,” he said. “We’ve already created, with your help, 800,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs, the fastest growth in 40 years.”….Biden went on to boast of 300 bipartisan laws that he signed, maintaining that more could be on the way — if the House, under new GOP management, would work with him….”To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together and find consensus on important things in this new Congress,” he said. “The people sent us a clear message: Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere.”….”The idea that in 2020, 55 of the largest companies in America, the Fortune 500, made $40 billion in profits and paid zero in federal income taxes? Folks, simply not fair. But now, because of the law I signed, billion-dollar companies have to pay a minimum of 15%. God love them,” he said….”Under my plan, nobody earning less than $400,000 a year will pay an additional penny in taxes. Nobody. Not one penny. But let’s finish the job, there’s more to do,” he said. “No billionaire should pay a lower tax rate than a school teacher or a firefighter.”
What moves Biden still needs to make
1. Recognize specific parts of the country where unemployment is still high. Why? Because this affects Democrats who feel like they are not seen. For example, unemployment in New York City is almost twice the national average.
2. Fix the problems with its industrial policy (https://www.liberalpatriot.com/p/the-problem-with-bidens-industrial?utm_source=post-email-title&publication_id=239058&post_id=100325261&isFreemail=true&utm_medium=email). Also, Buy American policy needs carve out for major allies (the European Union and Japan, for example, don’t have free trade agreements with the US).
3. Anti-trust (and inflation) needs to focus on the agricultural sector, not just industry, services and digital.
4. There is a need for anti-trust also in housing (corporations shouldn’t be able to buy excessive housing stocks raising inflation).
5. Demand a federal sales tax on luxury goods as part of the discussion on taxation. Propose a law setting auditing standards for the IRS (percentage of working class vs billionaires who get audited).
6. More focus on the Child Tax Credit and Child care. Child care needs to be presented as a way to combat inflation by expanding the labor force. These should be moved as stand alone bills.
7. Confront environmentalists who oppose permitting reform. Call for bipartisanship even if almost half of congressional Democrats oppose it.
8. Support the build up of missing national natural gas infrastructure, specially for future use for transport of hydrogen.
9. Call for police reform and funding, even if most of the most controversial proposals have to be scrapped (including qualified immunity).
10. Recognize that the United States can’t possibly provide asylum to all people who qualify for it. Quotas need to be the backbone of immigratrion reform, including for labor, family reunification and international protection. Confront the (de facto) open borders Democrats. Move stand alone Dreamers legislation. Consider a federal executive order on the use of “Latinx”.
11. Move away from “Roe vs Wade” (which wasn’t even the law of the land due to Casey) as the framework for abortion. Instead adopt something people can understand, like no restrictions on the first 3-4 months of pregnancy plus no restrictions when the physical health of the mother is at risk (de facto Roe). Move stand alone access to contraception legislation and access to Plan B legislation.
12. Democrats need to talk about transgender issues. Ignoring the issue doesn’t make it go away, but the silence can help Republicans in moving public opinion away from tolerance. Depending on how the Supreme Court rules, there may also be a need to again discuss religious exemptions from equal rights for LGBT people.
Later near 2024
13. At some time it has to be stated, politicians are either against Russia or for it. There is no middle ground.
14. Same goes with China. From espionage (including industrial), to currency manipulation, to use of forced labor in Xinjiang, suppression of the Mongolian language and Tibetan culture, broken promises on democratization of Hong Kong and broken promises on the peaceful reunification of Taiwan, it is time for Democrats to take the lead on denouncing abuse. This means putting pressure on corporations to continue disinvesting there (also as a response to Covid). The only cooperation with China should be on climate change, while denouncing it as almost single handedly being responsible for the climate crisis becoming unmanageable.
Biden complained that some large, profitable businesses paid no federal income tax while ignoring the reason they paid no federal income tax. One of the main reasons is that they can “offshore” much of their profits to tax havens like the Netherlands. Since the Inflation Reduction Act levies a new corporate minimum tax which will not apply to these offshored profits, it is more likely to aggravate the problem than to solve it.
Isn’t the issue a lot more complicated than that?