Amid the background of global economic anxiety due to the growing crisis in Ukraine, President Biden’s first State of the Union Address spoke of a unified response to the crisis but fell short in laying out his plans to tackle growing inflation and the pandemic.
The President spoke to taking steps to limit the pain Americans are feeling at the gas pumps by joining with other major nations to release 60 million barrels of oil from their emergency stockpiles to help soften the price surge created by the crisis in Ukraine. He also suggested targeting rising prices by boosting domestic production of automobiles and semiconductors and rebuilding the nation’s roads and bridges to remain competitive.
Increasing domestic manufacturing has been a goal of the past two presidents, but this shift takes time. Another consideration is that the movement of production to other countries has helped keep inflation in the USA intact in recent decades.
Today the issue of inflation has hit a 40-year high which Mr. Biden needed to acknowledge given his recent polls. He inferred that rising prices are due to the pandemic and corporate greed and suggested that stronger privacy laws and anti-trust legislation may be a solution. The issue of inflation is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, with more money being spent on social welfare and entitlements.
The issue may prove to be a significant liability for Democrats in the midterms. Republicans have repeatedly criticized Mr. Biden and Democrats over inflation and called on the President to lay out a plan to bring prices down. Iowa Gov Kim Reynolds said the President’s plans were “too little too late.”
President Biden defended the American Rescue Plan, saying that it worked by “creating lots of jobs.” He spoke of the efforts to fight gun violence and rejected defunding police departments. As retailers continue to deal with a rise in retail theft and organized crime, these issues may also be a potential flashpoint ahead of the midterm elections.
President Biden suggested that the nation has moved to a new phase of the pandemic by calling it “a new moment in the fight against COVID-19.” He committed to taking additional steps to vaccinate Americans against future variants and, that schools and businesses now have the tools to keep open.
The President ended his speech with a call for lawmakers of both parties to work on what he called a “unity agenda” for the country. “It is in this moment that our character is formed. Our purpose is found. Our future is forged.” Mr. Biden ended his remarks saying, “The state of the union is strong, because you, the American people, are strong.”