Biden’s First SOYU: Then and Now
The Biden administration, now more than a year into his Presidency, had promised civil equality, better economic and working conditions for Americans, and a general sense of normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down the world. In his first State of the Union speech (SOTU), his key issues were made clear and he addressed the current state of American life.
Biden’s promise to ‘Build Back Better’ seemed to be quite successful. “Over 6 million new jobs were added to the economy” (Biden, WhiteHouse.gov) according to Biden in his address to Congress, and GDP growth has bounced back from it’s recession during 2020, with the President mentioning that “Our economy grew at a rate of 5.7% last year, the strongest growth in nearly 40 years”. (Biden, WhiteHouse.gov)
However, like all presidents, Biden has faced fervent criticism for higher inflation, rising oil costs (in no small part due to the invasion of Ukraine), and claims of overspending and mismanagement of the country’s finances, with a student remarking that “Gas is now $5 a gallon because of this ridiculous war”. That being said, the president has begun to fulfill his promise of rebuilding the economic base of America, with new social measures also currently being in circulation, with one proposed social benefit being to “Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and extend the Child Tax Credit, so no one has to raise a family in poverty.” (Biden, WhiteHouse.gov)
Another major subject in the SOTU speech was civil rights, and in particular the inclusion and diversity of the administration’s government. It’s no secret the administration has made a show of diversifying the cabinet, adopting the first female Treasury Secretary (Janet Yellen) and first openly gay Secretary of Transportation (Pete Buttigieg), both of which stood out from the present lawmakers in the House of Representatives that night. Even more prominent were the first female Vice President (Kamala Harris) and leading female congresswoman and speaker (Nancy Pelosi). Biden referred to this increase in diversity as “Moving forward—not backward” and as one student at Upper Merion put it, “I feel more diversity is always a step in the right direction.”
Biden also highlighted the nomination of an African American female judge to the Supreme Court, with Biden’s emphasis on diversity being widely promoted, and the status quo being criticized for its lack of diversity, as mentioned by another Upper Merion student “It’s no coincidence the government is mostly old, white men.”
Indeed, I believe the Biden administration has a responsibility to make the nation’s highest offices much more diverse. Overall, I believe that the administration has been quite a success. The country is thriving with public benefits, progress, and a growing diversity, and while growing inflation is still a massive issue, overall, the wider public, as well as myself, continue to be in support of the administration, and overall, approve of the President’s first address to Congress and the Nation.