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Biden calls for unity to tackle nation's issues in State of the Union

"We have to see each other not as enemies, but as fellow Americans."

Published: February 7, 2023 7:11pm

Updated: February 7, 2023 11:19pm

President Joe Biden, during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, called for unity, pointing to the bipartisan successes of the past Congress.

"We're often told that Democrats and Republicans can't work together," he said.

"But time and again, Democrats and Republicans came together," he continued, touting bipartisan support for Ukraine and the passage of a bill awarding relief to the victims of toxic burn pits.

Such pleas bookended the address, as Biden returned to the theme of bipartisan cooperation near the end of the address with a call to end cancer. He also referenced the major AIDS relief program PEPFAR that Congress embraced under former President George W. Bush.

He then pivoted to acknowledge Paul Pelosi, the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who sustained a hammer strike to the head during a home invasion last year.

"There's no place for political violence in America," he said. "Democracy must not be a partisan issue. It's an American issue. We have to see each other not as enemies, but as fellow Americans."

Biden also called for the nation to once again ban assault weapons in the United States, touting his push to enact the 1994 assault weapons ban that expired under Bush.

One of the president's guests was Brandon Tsay, a survivor of a recent mass shooting who wrested control of a firearm from a gunman who had already killed 11 people during a Lunar New Year mass shooting.

"He saved lives. It's time we do the same," Biden said of Tsay.

"Ban assault weapons now!" he shouted to applause, contending that mass shootings tripled after the 1994 ban expired.

However, Colorado GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert shook her head in opposition.

Biden also addressed his financial reforms and tax proposals, asserting that "[u]nder my plans, as long as I'm president, nobody earning less than $400,000 will pay an additional penny in taxes ... pass my proposal for the billionaire minimum tax," he said. "No billionaire should be paying a lower tax rate than a school teacher or a firefighter."

He went on to highlight big oil's "record profits" amid a global energy crisis. He then lamented that they refused to invest in domestic production, asserting that they had concerns he would shut down production. Biden then earned laughs when he retorted that oil would remain necessary for another decade.

Biden then proposed a quadrupling of the tax on corporate stock buybacks before toting the hiring of additional tax agents to go after "wealthy tax cheats," a move he called "fiscally responsible."

The president then claimed that his administration had cut the deficit by more than $1.7 trillion over the past two years, "the largest deficit reduction in American history."

He further blamed much of the existing national debt on his predecessor, President Donald Trump, which prompted boos from Republicans.

The president's plea for Medicare expansion and overall healthcare reform included many nods to Republicans as a prospective area of compromise amid an ongoing negotiation over the national debt.

In one such proposal, he suggested giving Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

Giving the program such flexibility "doesn't just save seniors money, it cuts the federal deficit," he claimed, by "hundreds of billions of dollars because these proscription drugs are drugs purchased by Medicare."

He then turned to his detractors who sought to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, asserting that "If you try anything to raise the cost of proscription drugs, I will veto it."

Biden also discussed his successes in the legislature, touting a bill last year that funded the domestic production of semiconductor chips. In particularly, he pointed the planned construction of a manufacturing plant outside Columbus, Ohio, that he said would be a literal "field of dreams" for those seeking economic opportunities and produce 10,000 jobs.

"These chips were invented in America," he said. "We're gonna make sure the supply chain for America begins in America."

During the address, he also announced that he would require all building materials in federal construction projects to be made in America. "[L]umber, glass, drywall, fiber optic cable" would also be domestically sourced for such projects, he declared.

He earlier opened the address on jovial note, jokingly telling House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that "I don't want to ruin your reputation, but I look forward to working with you."

"The story of America is a story of progress and resilience," he said. "A story unique among all nations."

He went on to tout the nation's economic recovery, citing the creation of 12 million jobs, which he said was more jobs in two years than any president had ever created in a full, four-year term.

As of press time, Biden's overall approval rating stood at 44.2%, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. By contrast, 51.5% of Americans disapprove.

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