On Tuesday night, President Joe Biden delivered his second State of the Union address since taking office in 2021, and it was a far cry from the decorum that had become expected in the past decade. Republicans repeatedly heckled, jeered and shouted during the address, and Biden was ready for them. He used the interruptions to reinforce his message, accusing “some” Republicans of plotting to sunset Social Security and Medicare. He snarkily accepted the protests as a “unanimous” endorsement and welcomed all converts.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy maintained a disciplined frown for most of the address, but Biden was lustily heckled by Republicans for the second year in a row, and Biden turned their rowdiness to his advantage. The loudest complaints were provoked by his taunts about Republican malice toward Social Security and Medicare, and Biden sarcastically took credit for GOP “conversions” to the cause of protecting these programs and the seniors who rely on them.
Biden also mentioned how “some” Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset every five years. This was a reference to the much-disavowed 2022 plan by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) to sunset all federal laws every five years, which GOP leader Mitch McConnell denounced just days later.
Biden also boasted that the 12.1 million jobs created in his first two years were more than the number of jobs added in four years under any president, noting that he has signed more than 300 bipartisan laws since becoming president. He thanked Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure law, noting that he has promised to be a president for all Americans.
The president also addressed the growing tensions between the US and China, noting that he has “made clear with President Xi that we seek competition, not conflict.” Biden said he will take necessary steps to defend itself, but he also said he has “made clear with President Xi that we seek competition, not conflict.” He discussed the idea of the US going head-to-head with China on industry, and said he is committed to work with China where they can advance American interests and benefit the world.
Biden’s measured tone and restrained attitude towards the GOP were a far cry from the scandal that erupted in 2009 when Republican Joe Wilson of South Carolina interrupted President Obama’s speech to Congress by shouting, “You lie.
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1. “Republicans Turn Themselves into Props for Biden” POLITICO, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2023/02/08/republicans-props-biden-state-of-the-union-00081774
2. “How Biden Successfully Baited Congressional Republicans” The Atlantic, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/02/state-union-joe-biden-congress-republicans/672984
3. “Biden Springs Trap for Republicans in State of the Union” New York Magazine, 8 Feb. 2023, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/02/biden-2023-state-of-the-union.html
4. “Biden’s 2023 State of the Union: 5 winners and 2 losers” Vox.com, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2023/2/7/23590214/biden-state-of-union-2023-winners-losers
5. “FactChecking the State of the Union” FactCheck.org, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.factcheck.org/2023/02/factchecking-the-state-of-the-union-4/
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7. “Biden's State of the Union address was smart on China” MSNBC, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opinion/state-of-the-union-biden-china-rcna69575