The (Supposed) State of the Union: Biden's Take v. Reality
America, 2022—Just over a year into Joe Biden’s presidency and inflation is at a historic high, gas prices are soaring and expected to increase, Putin is currently invading Ukraine, food prices are up by 10%, crime is on the rise in cities across the country, and uncertainty about the future is the predominant sentiment. Poll numbers accurately reflect these issues as 56 percent disapprove of President Biden’s performance, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult Poll; yet even worse, 67 percent of Americans believe the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction. Last night’s State of the Union Address (SOTU), the first of Biden’s since entering office, felt rather out of touch with this reality. Though Biden attempted to preach a message of unity around the “strength” of our union, what all Americans can agree on—wherever they may fall on the political spectrum—is the fact that we are feeling something entirely different within our nation.
Here are 5 instances from the SOTU where Biden needs a reality check:
While Ukraine is certainly at the top of mind for many Americans, President Biden spent the first 20 minutes of the speech praising his own handling of the Russia-Ukraine situation and his attempt at diplomacy with Putin.
“We the United States of America stand with the Ukrainian people,” Biden said.
It can only make us wonder, if Biden knew of the possible invasion for some time, why wasn't it addressed earlier on to ensure the conflict never escalated in the first place? Our hope is for peace in Ukraine, but this crisis has already made the entire world less safe. Not to mention, our energy dependence—brought on by this administration's green policies—and reliance on Russia for much of our oil makes the situation even more dire here at home.
2. Inflation and the Economy
Every American is experiencing a financial pinch due to inflation at this point. To provide solace, President Biden told the people he gets it and it’s gonna be alright.
“We have a choice. One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages,” he exclaimed, “I have a better idea to fight inflation. Lower your costs, not your wages.”
This was an interesting choice of words since lowering costs is nearly impossible for companies in an economy where costs are increasing, especially due to government policy. He went on to encourage manufacturers to bring back production to America and touted the line, “Made in America,” a phrase oddly reminiscent of Trump’s era. His words might have sounded "all in" on American-made; however, juxtaposed with his minimum tax rate of 15% on corporations, his words fell flat.
Even with his input on the economy, the president never owned up to the bleak situation at hand: inflation is at a 40 year high. Just recently, the Labor Department stated that consumer prices jumped 7.5% in January compared with the year before, the steepest year-over-year increase since February of 1982.
Once again boasting of his supposed economic success, President Biden remarked on creating 6 million jobs at a “record pace.” In reality, the term "creating" doesn't quite describe the situation within the job market. Due to the pandemic, millions of jobs were lost and unemployment rose drastically, creating very hard times for the American people.
Later, in September 2021, Biden only added fuel to the fire when he announced sweeping vaccine mandates for companies with 100 or more employees. This mandate was later shot down by the Supreme Court, but it was already costly for many. Thus, the more appropriate term regarding the 6 million jobs could be "bringing back," as in he helped bring back jobs that existed pre-pandemic or that were lost because of an unconstitutional mandate he put in place.
4. Immigration and the Border
An ongoing conversation (or rather, point of contention) among politicians and Americans alike has been immigration and how to handle the border. Trump will forever be famous for his approach of "The Wall," hailed by some as harsh and others as just; meanwhile, Biden’s approach during his campaign was labeled as “compassionate” with plans for significant reform. Now, a little over a year into his presidency, the border situation has worsened and our president and Border Czar VP can’t seem to acknowledge it.
“We need to secure the border and fix our immigration system,” proclaimed Biden to a response of applause.
Both sides might be able to agree on that statement; however, there was zero mention of the specifics. The overall surge of illegal immigration due to the administration’s lax stance has included 2 million apprehensions of illegal immigrants at the southern border in 2021, 800,000 of which were released into the U.S.
5. Police and Crime
Perhaps the most ironic part of the speech was when President Biden completely changed his tune on the police. Back in 2020, Biden is on record saying, “Yes, absolutely!” when asked if he agreed with redirecting funding from police. He, along with his party members, aggressively pushed the “Defund the Police” campaign for almost two years… until it became unpopular. After honoring the recently fallen NPYD heroes, officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, Biden said: “The answer is not to defund the police, it’s to fund the police.”
While on the topic of police, President Biden failed to discuss another major concern… rampant crime.
So, what's the reality? 12 major cities have broken annual homicide records in 2021. Not only are violent crimes on the rise, but retail theft, auto theft, and carjackings are also skyrocketing in major cities. From 2019 to 2021, NYC saw a 286% increase in carjackings, Philadelphia’s increase was 238%, Chicago’s rate increased by 207%, and the rates were not far behind in other cities.
According to Robert Boyce, retired NYPD chief of detectives, “Nobody’s getting arrested anymore.”
This is likely due in part to a lowered morale among police officers and the fact that, on average, law enforcement agencies are filling only 93% of the authorized number of available positions.
Source: Getty Images
Overall, President Biden's SOTU left us thinking, “Are we living in the same America?”
It's safe to say we all wish the true state of our union was better off than it is, but it doesn't help when our Commander in Chief is tone-deaf to the problems we're facing every day. While Americans undoubtedly have the resolve and strength to persevere through hard times, the same can't be said of our president. The test will surely be the coming days... as we find out what the future holds for our country.