On March 1st, 2022 President Joe Biden gave the annual State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S Congress and an audience of awaiting Americans. Biden spoke on the current war in Ukraine, the imposed sanctions on Russia, economic inflation, gas prices, along with the ongoing infrastructure and energy costs that are underway within the U.S.
Biden did not hesitate to immediately condemn the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin within the first 10 minutes of his address, while highlighting the fearlessness and courage of the Ukrainian people and praising the efforts of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“[Putin] thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond…But Putin was wrong. We are ready. We are united. And that’s what we did: We stayed united,” asserted Biden.
In taking this stance, Biden pledged American alliance to Ukraine and emphasized the power and role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). However, he made it clear that American forces would not engage with Russian forces in Ukraine. Rather, they would be deployed to surrounding countries to protect NATO allies from Russian advancement.
Aleksander Kovalev, a senior Economics major at QC commented on how the conflict has been received in Russia, “There have been protests in major cities all around Russia. However, the number of protestors are relatively low in relation to the population, as many may oppose the war but fear repercussions for protesting, or truly believe that what Putin is doing is in the best interest of Russians and Ukrainians.”
The imposed economic sanctions have not only wrecked the Russian economy, but have also taken a toll on the American economy. Biden reported that the value of the ruble (Russia’s currency) has declined by 30% and the Russian stock market suffers as trading is suspended.
Max Korda, a senior Computer Science major at QC and a frequent day trader, tells The Knight News: “The market overall was in a flux due to the uncertainty of a possible impending war, so money has been shifting in and out from panic sell offs. Gas stocks have risen these past few weeks. Also, several publicly traded Russian stocks have been closed off globally.” As Biden said, “Putin is now isolated from the world more than he has ever been.”
After discussing the threat of war in Ukraine, Biden shifted to address the current state of the American economy, which grew 5.7% last year, although infrastructure is lacking. In an effort to catch up to other countries, Biden urged Congress to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law; a bill aimed at creating jobs for millions of Americans, renovating roads, fixing building safety hazards and making them more technologically modern. “When we use taxpayers’ dollars to rebuild America, we’re going to do it by buying American. Buy American products. Support American jobs,” claimed Biden.
Inflation remains a prominent issue, which Biden addresses by aiming to lower the costs of manufacturing and increasing wages. Within this goal is lowering the price of insulin to $35 a month, cutting energy costs for families by making homes and vehicles environmentally friendly, and cutting the cost of childcare, as well as imposing a 15% minimum tax rate for corporations.
Biden also proposed passing the Paycheck Fairness Act in order to keep minimum wage at $15 and the Child Tax Credit to avoid children being raised in poverty. He further showed interest in increasing the amount of student Pell Grants and passing the PRO Act aimed at supporting workers’ right to unionize.
Regarding the pandemic, Biden announced COVID-19 cases were down to levels not seen since last year leading to a new mask-free guideline, quicker accessibility to vaccines, tests, and the Pfizer antiviral pill. He declared that citizens are safe with his team of scientists and action plan should another variant unfold.
In an effort to reduce gun violence, the President asked Congress to pass universal background checks, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and repeal the legislation that prevents gun manufacturers from being held liable for crimes committed with their products.. Towards the end of his address, Biden announced a “Unity Agenda for the Nation,” where he proposed plans to beat the opioid epidemic, tackle mental health, support American veterans, and “end cancer as we know it.”
It is undeniable that the state of the nation has seen better times, and with the threat of Russian forces advancing on Ukraine, Biden’s final remarks stand to be tested in the future: “We are stronger today than we were a year ago. And we’ll be stronger a year from now than we are today. This is our moment to meet and overcome the challenges of our time. And we will, as one people, one America — the United States of America.”