Biden’s State of the Union speech highlights his record and shows why he deserves another term

Donna Brazile |Feb 8, 2023 |

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress as Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) listen on February 7, 2023 in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden’s address to the nation on the state of our union was inspiring. Biden emphasized his commitment to advancing economic growth, job creation, voting rights, racial justice, police reform, more affordable health care, abortion rights and the fight against inflation in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, building on his impressive record of achievement.

The president said he will seek to expand educational opportunities from preschool through college, reduce climate change, reform our immigration system, raise taxes on wealthy corporations and individuals, combat the scourge of fentanyl, protect Social Security and Medicare from cuts proposed by some Republicans, ban assault weapons and support Ukraine against invading Russian forces, among other priorities.

Biden’s delivery of the speech in the House chamber in the U.S. Capitol was strong and energetic, constituting a master class in politics and governing. His outstanding performance threw cold water on critics who say he is too old to run for another term in 2024. I give him high marks for what he said and how he said it, all while doing it with grace.

Biden issued a stirring call to Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, an important and urgently needed measure designed to reduce police misconduct and hold officers accountable when misconduct occurs. Vice President Kamala Harris co-sponsored the bill when she was a senator and it passed the House (then controlled by Democrats) in 2021 but failed in the Senate, where a supermajority is required to pass most bills under the filibuster rule.

Dramatizing the need for the police reform legislation, relatives of Black people killed or brutalized by police attended the president’s speech as guests of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Biden reached across the aisle in a call for bipartisanship, asking congressional Republicans to work with Democrats to pass legislation to benefit the American people. He called on House Republicans to support his commonsense call to raise the national debt ceiling so America can pay its bills from previous spending and avoid an economic disaster that would destroy jobs, raise interest rates and likely plunge the U.S. into a recession.

President Joe Biden speaks as Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), right, listen during a State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

President Biden and Vice President Harris and their administration have not received anywhere near the credit they deserve for their tremendous and historic accomplishments in the past two years. There are so many accomplishments that most people understandably can’t keep track of them all. Here are a few highlights:

  • A falling inflation rate, falling gasoline prices and a falling unemployment rate. The inflation rate has dropped for six months in a row, hitting an annual rate of 6.5 percent in December. With the creation of 517,000 jobs in January, the national unemployment rate dropped to 3.4 percent — the lowest rate since May 1969. The Black unemployment rate in January was 5.4 percent. The Biden-Harris administration is working to close the longstanding Black-white unemployment gap.
  • The Inflation Reduction Act, which cuts the cost of prescription drugs and health insurance, reduces harmful climate change and requires multibillion-dollar corporations and wealthy tax cheats to pay their fair share of taxes.
  • The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that made free life-saving COVID-19 vaccinations and treatments available to all Americans and sent checks to most Americans and many small businesses to help them deal with the pandemic.
  • The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Law that is creating good jobs and improving our roads, bridges, mass transit, rail, airports, ports, waterways and energy systems.
  • $6 billion in funding for historically Black colleges and universities.
  • The appointment of Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, along with a record number of Black federal judges. Biden has appointed 11 Black women as federal appeals court judges — more than all presidents in U.S. history before him combined. 

The next two years will be contentious in Washington due to Republican control of the House. I know Democrats and Republicans will always disagree on many issues, but I hope that Republicans will put patriotism over partisanship and work to reach compromises with Democrats rather than simply just working to block every Biden proposal.

I don’t usually give Republicans advice, but here’s a tip: In 1948, Democratic President Harry Truman was an underdog expected to lose the election. But he won by campaigning against what he called the “do-nothing” Republican Congress that sought to obstruct him at every turn and by making a strong pitch for Black votes by desegregating the military and barring discrimination in the federal civil service. On top of this, Democrats made big gains to recapture majorities in the House and Senate.

If we have a “do-nothing” Republican House for the next two years, history might just repeat itself. Instead of heckling the president, as some Republicans disgracefully did during his speech, Republicans would serve their own interests best by cooperation rather than confrontation with President Biden, who will continue to play the long game.