WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden on Tuesday in his State of the Union address said that the American economy is better positioned to grow “than any country on Earth,” despite disruptions from Covid-19 and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The pandemic disrupted our supply chains and Putin’s unfair and brutal war in Ukraine disrupted energy supplies as well as food supplies,” Biden said in his second State of the Union address on Tuesday evening at the national Capitol.
“But we’re better positioned than any country on Earth right now,” he said.
Biden said US democracy is in better shape than when he took office in 2021, shortly after Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol in the January 6 attack.
“Two years ago, democracy faced its greatest threat since the civil war and today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken,” he said.
According to excerpts released ahead of the speech by the White House, Biden addressed the “story of America is a story of progress and resilience.”
“We are the only country that has emerged from every crisis stronger than when we entered it. That is what we are doing again. Two years ago our economy was reeling. As I stand here tonight, we have created a record 12 million new jobs – more jobs created in two years than any president has ever created in four years.
Two years ago, COVID had shut down our businesses, closed our schools, and robbed us of so much. Today, COVID no longer controls our lives. And two years ago, our democracy faced its greatest threat since the Civil War. Today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken,” added his readout.
Biden is delivering his first major speech to a divided Congress after Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. He urged Republican ‘friends’ to work with him.
“To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together in this new Congress. The people sent us a clear message. Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere.
And that’s always been my vision for the country: to restore the soul of the nation, to rebuild the backbone of America: the middle class, to unite the country. We’ve been sent here to finish the job!” he said.
Biden has called on Republicans to work with him, decrying “fighting for the sake of fighting” in Washington, DC.
“Republican friends, we could work together,” he said.
“We’re often told that Democrats or Republicans can’t work together. But over the past two years, we proved the cynics and naysayers wrong,” he said, pointing to several laws passed with bipartisan support.
In an early gesture of bipartisanship, Biden opened his speech by congratulating newly elected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The president also gave a nod to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries – the first Black party leader in the chamber.
Biden has hailed progress against the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, he announced his administration would end the national emergency and public health emergency declarations for COVID in May.
“Today, COVID no longer controls our lives,” he said.
Biden has called for capping the price of insulin at $35 for all Americans, after a law came into effect that limited the cost for seniors on Medicare, a healthcare programme mostly for elderly Americans.
“Let’s finish the job this time. Let’s cap the cost… for everybody at $35. Big Pharma is still going to do very well, I promise you,” he said.
Biden has hailed a 2021 bipartisan law that secured $1.2 trillion to revitalise the country’s infrastructure.
“We’ve sunk to 13th in the world — the United States of America, 13th in the world — for infrastructure, modern infrastructure,” Biden said.
“But now we’re coming back because we came together and passed a bipartisan infrastructure law, the largest investment infrastructure since President Eisenhower’s interstate highway system.”
He also laid stress on US economic plan about investing in places and people that have been forgotten.
“Amid the economic upheaval of the past four decades too many people have been left behind or treated like they’re invisible. Maybe that’s you watching at home. You remember the jobs that went away. And you wonder whether a path even exists anymore for you and your children to get ahead without moving away. I get it. That’s why we’re building an economy where no one is left behind.
Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back because of the choices we made in the last two years. This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America and make a real difference in your lives,” according to his readout.
Biden has said the US should lead the world in manufacturing after years of bleeding factory jobs.
“Where’s it written that America can’t lead the world and manufacturing? I don’t know where that’s written. For too many decades, we imported products and exported jobs,” he told legislators.
“Now, thanks to what you’ve all done. We’re exporting American products and creating American jobs.” (ANI)