Putin's war and the American economy: Biden is preparing an address to Congress
President Biden will deliver his first State of the Union address on March 1 in what will be the most important speech of his life as US inflation skyrockets and Eastern Europe plunges into war, reports FoxNews.
While state of the art speeches tend to focus on domestic issues, Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to launch a full-scale war in Ukraine despite Biden's repeated threats to impose economic sanctions has brought attention to the US president's foreign policy agenda.
Post-Cold War order on the brink of collapse
On Feb. 27, Putin ordered Russia's nuclear deterrent force put on high alert after the US and other Western countries announced they would remove individual Russian banks from the SWIFT international financial messaging system. It is the latest move against Russia after initial economic sanctions failed to deter Putin from invading Ukraine as the Biden administration had hoped.
During his speech on March 1, the president is expected to back sanctions and his own efforts to build a "global coalition to fight the autocracy" of the Kremlin, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said February 27.
“If you look back, when President Obama addressed Congress, it was during the worst financial crisis in a generation,” Psaki said. When President Bush addressed Congress, it was shortly after 11/XNUMX. Leaders lead in times of crisis. That's what President Biden is doing."
At the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference, Republican lawmakers speculated that the speech might need to be rewritten.
"I think they probably changed the draft they had for the president's address to Congress and realize the problems are getting worse," Senator Marsha Blackburn, Tenn., told Fox News Digital at CPAC.
“And that they will need to buckle up and do the hard work on these foreign policy issues. Now we have many countries that are very unhappy with the US, because we seem weak and indecisive about how we were going to act against the aggressors,” the Republican Party said.
Dr. James Anderson, a former undersecretary for policy at the Department of Defense, said Feb. 28 that Biden should use his speech to spell out "additional measures" that need to be taken against Russia, such as expelling more diplomats and banning Russian flights from entry into US airspace.
Putin will "keep a close eye on what President Biden says," Anderson said.
Rising inflation, declining approval ratings
The economy is also a key issue for Biden's address to Congress as inflation hits a 40-year high and gasoline prices hit their highest level in eight years. Biden has warned that his sanctions on Russia could push gas prices even further, which could further hurt his approval ratings as voters overwhelmingly say soaring food and energy prices are causing them financial hardship, according to a new poll.
The same poll showed Biden's approval rating of a dismal 43%, the lowest so far this presidency, with only 37% approving of his handling of the economy.
When Biden delivered his first State of the Union address last April, he focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and addressed members of Congress who were all wearing masks in a limited-seat House chamber. The president could declare victory over the virus this year as new cases and hospitalizations continue to decline across the country, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has simplified guidance on indoor mask use.
Unlike last year, all members of Congress were invited to Biden's speech on March 1, and masks are not required.
Biden will also mark his new Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, who will become the first black woman to serve on the nation's highest court if confirmed.
Legislative agenda stalled
As far as his legislative agenda is concerned, Biden is expected to push forward his bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, but his landmark "Build Back Better" proposals (Build Back Better) and the voting rights bills brought no progress.
Biden is expected to avoid using the phrase "better than it was" in his address to Congress and focus on individual programs and "cutting costs" for Americans in the face of rising inflation.
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In a guest essay published by David Axelrod, Biden called for "a little humility" during his speech, but also to acknowledge that Americans are "still at the mercy of the national trauma" caused by the pandemic.
“The country is in a state of stress,” Axelrod wrote. – Claim the opposite – emphasize the progress we have made without fully acknowledging the difficult path we have traveled and the distance we still have to go. It would be fake and off topic. You just can't make Americans believe that things are much better than they feel."
When and where
What time is the President's speech?
Biden will deliver his statement at 21:00. ET.
Where can I watch it?
CNN's coverage of the State of the Union Address and Republican Response will be streamed live, without the need for cable login, on the CNN.com homepage and on mobile devices via the CNN iOS and Android apps on March 1, from 20:00 pm to 12:00 pm: XNUMX ET. It can also be viewed on CNNgo (on CNN.com/go on desktop, smartphone, and iPad, and through the CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Android TV, Chromecast, and Roku).
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