An upbeat President Joe Biden noted the creation of jobs and the fact that “COVID no longer controls our lives” as he delivered his State of the Union address Tuesday night before a divided Congress.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, and Vice President Kamala Harris, the California Democrat who is president of the Senate, sat behind President Biden in the packed House, which included lawmakers, Cabinet members, Supreme Court justices and honored guests, as he stressed bipartisan efforts and other progress. Vice President Harris joined other Democrats in standing up during applause during various parts of the speech. For the most part, Speaker McCarthy remained seated, but did stand at least three times during the speech’s more bipartisan moments.
“The story of America is a story of progress and resilience,” President Biden told those in Congress and viewers watching at home. “Of always moving forward. Of never giving up. A story that is unique among all nations. We are the only country that has emerged from every crisis stronger than when we entered it….
“Two years ago, COVID had shut down our businesses, closed our schools, and robbed us of so much,” President BIden said. “Today, COVID no longer controls our lives.
“Today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken,” President Biden said.
He noted he has signed more than 300 bipartisan laws such as the Violence Against Women Act, the Electoral Count Reform Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Critics of the Biden administration have cited record-breaking inflation and high gas and food prices, but the president on Tuesday night pointed to inflation coming down and a decrease in gas prices, which he said are down $1.50 a gallon since their peak in mid-2022.
He also noted food prices were dropping, although not as quickly as he would like.
“Inflation has fallen every month for the last six months while take-home pay has gone up,” he said.
But critics have pointed to excessive government spending for causing increases in inflation and related hardships for families trying to make ends meet.
In addition, small businesses across the country, including some in Santa Barbara, closed during the pandemic, but President Biden pointed on Thursday night to new small businesses.
“Additionally, over the last two years, a record 10 million Americans applied to start a new small business,” the president said. “Every time somebody starts a small business, it’s an act of hope.”
The president also cited the unemployment rate of 3.4%, a 50-year low. He also pointed to a near record low for uinemployment among black and Hispanic workers.
“We’ve already created 800,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs, the fastest growth in 40 years,” President Biden said. “Where is it written that America can’t lead the world in manufacturing again?
“For too many decades, we imported products and exported jobs,” he said. “Now thanks to all we’ve done, we’re exporting American products and creating American jobs.”
He said the supply chain should start and end in America.
President Biden described inflation as a global problem caused by the pandemic’s disruptions of supply chains and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s disruption of energy and food supplies through his invasion of Ukraine. Again, critics have blamed U.S. inflation on government spending.
Among the special guests honored at Thursday’s speech was Brandon Tsay, who bravely disarmed the Monterey Park mass shooter at his family’s dance hall, Lai Lai Ballroom.
After the president’s talk, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former President Donald Trump’s press secretary, said, “From out-of-control inflation and violent crime to the dangerous border crisis and threat from China, Biden and the Democrats have failed you.
“They know. And you know it,” said Ms. Sanders, daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former presidential candidate, during the televised Republican response to President Biden’s speech. “It’s time for a change.
“Tonight, let us reaffirm our commitment to a timeless American idea: that government exists not to rule the people, but to serve the people,” Ms. Sanders said.
She accused Democrats of wanting to impose more government control, but noted America’s strength lies in its freedom.
“I’ll be the first to admit, President Biden and I don’t have a lot in common,” Ms. Sanders said. “I’m for freedom. He’s for government control.
“At 40, I’m the youngest governor in the country. At 80, he’s the oldest president in American history,” Ms. Sanders continued.
“I’m the first woman to lead my state,” she noted, continuing her comparisons between herself and President Biden. “He’s the first man to surrender his presidency to a woke mob that can’t even tell you what a woman is.
“In the radical left’s America, Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire, but you get crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves, and our children are taught to hate one another on account of their race, but not to love one another or our great country,” Ms. Sanders said.
She noted President Biden inherited the fastest economic recovery in history, the most secure southern border, fast-rising wages, a rebuilt military and a world that was stable and at peace. “In the last two years, Democrats destroyed it all.”