The President

At State of the Union, Biden outlines his vision for America's future

President Biden delivered his annual State of the Union address, discussing foreign policy, abortion protections, the economy and immigration.

At State of the Union, Biden outlines his vision for America's future
Andrew Harnik / AP
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President Joe Biden delivered the third State of the Union address of his presidency on Thursday night. 

He arrived to address a joint session of Congress in the House chamber at 9:17 p.m. Eastern Time, having detoured around protesters between the White House and the Capitol who criticized the Biden administration's response to the Israel-Hamas war.

His address to a divided Congress outlined his vision for a path ahead, touching on the domestic economy, reproductive rights, immigration and how the U.S. will approach global leadership. There was also plenty of criticism of his likely general election opponent, former President Donald Trump.

President Biden spent several minutes after arriving greeting lawmakers, administration officials and guests at the address. 

At one point, chants of "four more years" could be heard from attendees.

President Biden began his address at 9:26 Eastern Time.

He opened by recalling moments of crisis the United States has faced before.

"Not since President Lincoln and the Civil War have freedom and democracy been under assault at home as they are today. What makes our moment rare is that freedom and democracy are under attack both at home and overseas at the very same time," the president said. 

"If anyone in this room thinks Putin will stop at Ukraine, I assure you he will not," he said.

President Biden had immediate criticism for Trump's approach to Russia and NATO, warning against concessions to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"It's outrageous, it's dangerous and it's unacceptable,” President Biden said. 

Abortion and reproductive rights

President Biden has made protecting abortion rights and reproductive health care a key part of his campaign this year. He has rallied around restoring the protections lost when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.

In his address, he reiterated his desire to restore abortion protections and the need to have Congress on board.

"If you, the American people, send me a Congress that supports the right to choose ,I promise you I will restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land again," President Biden said.

Notable guests of the Bidens at this year's address have personal ties to women's health issues.

Kate Cox, who sued Texas after she was denied an abortion, attended the speech. Latorya Beasley, who was using in vitro fertilization and had her embryo transfer canceled when Alabama's Supreme Court upended the legality of services in the state, was also in attendance.

Biden had a message for Beasley and other families going through IVF. 

"We are the party of hardworking parents and families. We want to give you and your children the opportunities to thrive – and we want families to grow," Biden said. It’s why we strongly support continued nationwide access to in vitro fertilization. We want to help loving moms and dads bring precious life into this world."

The economy and taxation

President Biden highlighted what the White House had described as "America's comeback," outlining wide-ranging economic achievements in his first term so far, including reductions to inflation, unemployment and health care costs, and new investment in U.S. manufacturing and businesses.

Inflation has dropped to a low point, President Biden said, and consumer confidence has increased.

"The landing is and will be soft," President Biden promised.

"On my watch, federal projects that you fund, like helping build American roads, bridges and highways, will be made with American products and built by American workers — creating good-paying American jobs."

In the coming days, President Biden is expected to propose a new budget that raises corporate taxes and taxes on the ultra-wealthy. Combined, the measures are projected to cut $3 trillion from the national deficit.

President Biden spent significant time talking about personal finance and economic matters. He called for a restoration of the Child Tax Credit and said he wanted to keep taxes on average earners from increasing.

"Under my plan nobody earning less than $400,000 will pay an additional penny in federal taxes," he said. "Nobody. Not one penny."

Instead, the president called for increases in the corporate tax rates and ends to tax breaks for ultra-wealthy earners.

"No billionaire should pay a lower federal tax rate lower than a teacher, a sanitation worker or a nurse," the president said.

President Biden warned that if Congress tried to cut Social Security or Medicare, or raise the retirement age, he would stop the effort.

The president also mentioned shrinkflation from food manufacturers, calling on Congress to pass legislation to address the practice.

Health care and drug costs

President Biden indicated there was more to do to enrich the middle class, including by addressing drug costs. He highlighted his efforts to normalize insulin costs, and explained Medicare's new ability to negotiate drug costs.

"It's now time to go further and give Medicare the power to negotiate lower prices for 500 different drugs over the next decade," President Biden said. "It will not only save lives, it will save taxpayers another $200 billion."

"Starting next year, that same law caps total prescription drug costs for seniors on Medicare at $2,000 a year even for expensive cancer drugs that can cost $10,000, $12,000, $15,000," the president said. "Now I want to cap prescription drug costs at $2,000 a year for everyone."

President Biden extolled the achievements of the Affordable Care Act, but warned that Republicans wanted to repeal its benefits. He told the audience he would continue to fight to preserve its protections.

"We stopped you 50 times before, and we'll stop you again," he said of efforts to make cuts to the program.

Housing costs

The president acknowledged the tight housing market, saying he wanted to give home buyers relief from high mortgage and interest costs.

He outlined a plan to provide a tax credit of $400 a month for the next two years to help pay mortgage or refinancing costs on first-time home purchases. He also called on Congress to pass a plan to build and renovate 2 million affordable homes. 

Immigration

When talking about immigration, President Biden was quick to call out Republicans who killed a bipartisan plan to help secure the southern border. 

"I'm told my predecessor called Republicans in Congress and demanded they block the bill," the president said of the legislation. "He feels it would be a political win for me and a political loser for him. It’s not about him or me. It’d be a winner for America!"

"Get this bill done," President Biden insisted. "We need to act now."

But the president warned that he would not use rhetoric that demonizes immigrants, separates families or bans people because of their faith.

"I know who we are as Americans," he said, taking another veiled dig at Trump. "We can fight about fixing the border, or we can fix it. I'm ready to fix it. Send me the bill now."

The Israel-Hamas war

President Biden announced a temporary port on the coast of Gaza to increase the volume of humanitarian aid reaching the country.

The administration airdropped food aid earlier this month following an incident in which Palestinians were killed while retrieving aid materials from a ground convoy. Witnesses said Israeli troops fired on surging civilians, reportedly killing more than 100 people.

"Humanitarian assistance cannot be a bargaining chip," the president told the leadership of Israel during the address. "Protecting and saving innocent lives has to be the priority."

Meanwhile, the U.S. has pushed for a cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas that would have included the release of the remaining hostages held by Hamas. Israel backed out of the deal in early March.

The President called for an eventual two-state solution to the conflict.

"And I say this as a life-long supporter of Israel," he said. "There is no other path that guarantees Israel's security and democracy. There's no other path that guarantees that Palestinians can live with peace and dignity."

President Biden said he would continue to direct the U.S. to provide protection to regional shipping amid attacks from Houthi rebels, and said the U.S. would continue to respond to threats to its forces.

Other issues

President Biden called for fundamental rights. He told Congress to pass legislation to bolster voting rights, LGBTQ+ protections and minimum wage laws.

He called for halving U.S. carbon emissions by 2030. He highlighted electric vehicle charging infrastructure, environmental justice and the Climate Corps, an initiative that he says will employ 20,000 workers on clean energy projects at first and three times that number within a decade.

He called for police reform, revising the federal drug classification of marijuana, and increased enforcement of laws that punished domestic violence.

The president highlighted the need for gun violence prevention, recalling his meetings with families of victims of the shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Here President Biden called out Trump again on his reaction to gun violence prevention, criticizing Trump's dismissal of shootings.

"'Just get over it,' [Trump] said. I say stop it."

He called for bipartisan online privacy legislation, and called for a ban on AI voice impersonations.

Trump

President Biden used the speech to outline his vision for future governance, framing a second term as an alternative to Donald Trump — without mentioning Trump by name.

"My lifetime has taught me to embrace freedom and democracy," President Biden said. "A future based on the core values that have defined America: honesty, decency, dignity, equality. To respect everyone. To give everyone a fair shot. To give hate no safe harbor. Now some other people my age see a different story: an American story of resentment, revenge, and retribution. That’s not me."

His campaign has released ads targeting Trump over rambling comments during campaign events and warning against Trump's statements that he would not support NATO.

President Biden holds a 38% approval rating, according to a poll by the The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Sixty-one percent of respondents disapprove of his presidency.

The Republican response

Alabama Sen. Katie Britt delivered the Republican response to the 2024 State of the Union. Britt, 42, painted a different picture of American than President Biden did in his address. 

"The country we know and love seems to be slipping away," she said. "It feels like the next generation will have fewer opportunities — and less freedom — than we did. I worry my own children may not even get a shot at living their American Dreams."

Britt's speech covered numerous topics, but her strongest criticism of the president came when she spoke about immigration. 

"Minutes after taking office, [President Biden] suspended all deportations, halted construction of the border wall, and announced a plan to give amnesty to millions," she said. "We know that President Biden didn't just create this border crisis. He invited it with 94 executive actions in his first 100 days."

The senator added, "President Biden's border crisis is a disgrace. It's despicable. And it's almost entirely preventable."

Katie Britt in national spotlight with response to State of the Union
Katie Britt in national spotlight with response to State of the Union

Katie Britt in national spotlight with response to State of the Union

Sen. Britt is the youngest female Republican elected to the U.S. Senate, and serves as part of Sen. Mitch McConnell's leadership team.

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