Washington, D.C.–President Biden went into his State of the Union address in deep trouble. In the wake of mounting crises, the president’s approval rating has struggled to stay above 40 percent – a situation that sets Democrats up for potentially devastating losses in November’s midterm elections.
Despite the major stage of a joint session of Congress and a national audience, Biden did not make any effort to significantly alter his trajectory as president. Rather than showing true leadership, he tried to resell a dead agenda as if it was a smashing success.
In his opening remarks, Vice President Biden expressed support for Ukraine and harsh words directed at the Russian president that were mostly well received by members of both parties (with the exception of those from the Republican Party). Nearly six in ten Americans believe Putin invaded because he saw Biden as weak).
As part of the revenue-relief package and the infrastructure law, Biden defended the trillions of dollars in spending programs that he passed last year.
Senator Joe Manchin killed the Build Back Better bill late last year; Biden rebranded it in place of outlining a legislative strategy. He didn’t mention the name of the bill, and then he added absurdly that it was his “plan to fight inflation” and that it would lower costs and reduce deficits.
The CBO found that his plan would add $160 billion to the deficit since subsidies do not reduce actual prices. Biden outdid himself by calling for a $15 minimum wage shortly after he branded a multi-trillion-dollar spending plan an inflation-fighting measure.
To the extent that Biden attempted any pivot, it came on the issue of Covid. Last week, the CDC completely overhauled its guidance for masking right in time for the State of the Union.
Without any underlying change in the number of infections in the country, the CDC went from declaring 95 percent of the U.S. to be at sufficient risk to continue imposing mask mandates, to saying that 70 percent of the country was at sufficiently low risk to discard the masks.
While Biden advocated masking and supported teachers unions’ attempts to delay school reopening(s), he stressed the need for in-person education and the ability of the country to do so. “Thanks to the progress we have made this past year, Covid-19 need no longer control (sic) our lives,” Biden said.
Covid caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in the last year, and there were multiple major outbreaks. Change of tone has nothing to do with “progress,” but with losing an election in Virginia and polls continuing to show that endless restrictions hurt Democrats.
In the run-up to the election, the Republicans will be given an incalculable political gift if this speech is any indication of how Biden intends to make the case for himself and his party.
This is your shot Republicans-don’t blow it.