5 Takeaways From Biden’s State of the Union Address

President Biden outlines his vision for the country after "two of the hardest years this nation has ever faced." (Photo: HUNS Screenshot)

By Airielle Lowe

Howard University News Service

President Joe Biden gave his first State of the Union address last night amid an ongoing pandemic, economic woes and war between two European nations.

Here are five key takeaways from this historic event.

  1. Holding Russia Accountable

With Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi seated behind him, the president began by addressing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, openly condemning the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Six days ago, Russia’s Vladimir Putin sought to shake the foundations of the free world, thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways,” Biden said. “But he badly miscalculated.”

“We the United States of America stand with the Ukrainian people,” he added.

Biden acknowledged that the free world is holding Putin accountable by inflicting sanctions on Russia and openly condemning the invasion. He remarked that the U.S. would be cutting off Russia’s largest banks from the international financial system and “choking” the nation’s access to technology to sap its economic strength and weaken its military.

Biden also revealed that he would be following other countries in closing off U.S. air space to all Russian flights, creating additional strain on its economy.

The president expressed unwavering support for the people of Ukraine in his statement that the U.S. would be giving $1 billion in assistance to the country and aiding the people where possible. However, he made clear that that U.S. forces sent to Ukraine would not engage in conflict with Russia, but rather protect and defend NATO allies if necessary.

Following the initial invasion, the price of oil rapidly surged to a record high, and continues to remain there as the conflict continues. As such, Biden announced that the U.S. was working with other countries to release 60 million barrels of oil from around the world to lessen gas prices in the nation.

  1. Rescuing the U.S. Economy

Noting the crippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising prices, Biden stated that his American Rescue Plan “created over 6.5 million jobs” in one year and held the intent of providing relief to those impacted by the pandemic.

He also said the economy was growing under his administration and addressed a plan to continue to work on infrastructure within the nation.

Earlier in his presidency, Congress passed the president’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law whose central goals range from improving transportation to ensuring Americans have access to high-speed internet.

  1. Fighting the Pandemic

Rather than attempting to just live with the virus, Biden called for the nation to continue trying to combat the disease by rolling out more vaccines for Americans and other nations, while still being prepared for new variants that may emerge.

However, the president also encouraged the reopening of schools and for people to return to work in person.

  1. Controlling Inflation

One reason that Biden’s approval rating has been lagging at 44% in recent months is the rise in inflation under his administration. In addressing that rising prices are hurting the pockets of Americans, Biden said his “top priority is getting prices under control.”

Citing disruptions due to the pandemic, the president revealed that his “better plan” to fight inflation was for businesses to lower their costs, and not their wages.

Biden also outlined his plan to fight inflation in the following steps:

  • Drop the cost of prescription drugs
  • Curb the cost of energy for families, which would also combat climate change, he noted.
  • Cut the cost of child care.

Biden also announced a “crackdown” on American companies overcharging customers and advocated for a rise of the federal minimum wage to $15 and a 15% minimum tax rate for corporations.

Further proposals included increasing support of HBCUs, funding for community colleges and the number of Pell grants. Many of these proposals are also present in his Build Back Better Act that has only passed in the House.

  1. Funding the Police Differently

After a racial reckoning in 2020, tensions regarding certain communities and the police remain prevalent. In addressing this controversy, perhaps in a controversial claim of his own, Biden told members of Congress that the answer was “not to defund the police; it’s to fund the police.”

The line seemed to draw more praise from conservatives than liberals as he called for resources and training among the police force as well as noted that his American Rescue Plan is providing billions to cities with this intent.

Airielle Lowe is a reporter and regional bureau chief for HUNewsService.com.