United States

‘Putin was wrong. We were ready,’ Biden will say in State of the Union address

Reuters
‘Putin was wrong. We were ready,’ Biden will say in State of the Union address

STATE OF THE UNION PREPARATIONS. Capitol Police officers gather outside ahead of US President Joe Bidenu2019s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, USA, on March 1, 2022.

Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters

US President Joe Biden will seek to unite Americans in solidarity with Ukraine in his speech while also focusing on his domestic economic agenda, including reintroducing elements of his stalled Build Back Better program

WASHINGTON, DC, USA – US President Joe Biden will say on Tuesday, March 1, that the West was ready for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and his administration is prepared with a plan to fight inflation, according to excerpts of his State of the Union address.

“Throughout our history we’ve learned this lesson – when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos. They keep moving. And, the costs and threats to America and the world keep rising,” Biden will say, according to excerpts of his address released by the White House.

Biden will say that Putin eschewed efforts to prevent war.

“Putin’s war was premeditated and unprovoked. He rejected efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. And, he thought he could divide us here at home,” Biden will say. “Putin was wrong. We were ready.”

The president will also address rising inflation in his remarks by calling for more cars and semiconductors to be made in the United States.

“Instead of relying on foreign supply chains, let’s make it in America,” he will say. “My plan to fight inflation will lower your costs and lower the deficit.”

Biden will seek to unite Americans in solidarity with Ukraine in his speech while also focusing on his domestic economic agenda, including reintroducing elements of his stalled Build Back Better program. The war in Ukraine and high inflation at home are two of the biggest challenges facing his administration, in addition to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Biden’s address comes as his fellow Democrats face the prospect of losing control of the US House of Representatives and the Senate in November 8 mid-term elections. A forceful uptick in Biden’s approval would help prevent that and ensure his ability to make good on his agenda.

Public opinion polls have shown Biden out of favor with the majority of Americans for months. The most recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, taken last week, showed him at 43% approval.

Even with the jobless rate at 4%, most voters remain pessimistic about the economy, largely due to skyrocketing consumer prices. A quarter of Democrats think the party has failed to take advantage of its rare control of the White House and both houses of Congress.

While aides believe Biden’s perceived strength in handling COVID-19 helped him win the presidency, some voters, especially Republicans, think the country has not moved quickly enough to ease pandemic restrictions as case counts have fallen.

On Tuesday, members of Congress attending Biden’s speech at the U.S. Capitol will not be required to wear masks for the first time in months, a sight that could provide helpful optics for the president.

Authorities reinstalled fencing around the Capitol ahead of planned trucker protests against pandemic-related restrictions, but it does not appear that the convoys will cause major disruptions.

US economy, Russia sanctions

Biden must convince viewers at home that the economy is, in fact, in solid shape despite inflation concerns, and that tough sanctions imposed by Washington and allies on Russia are worth the pain. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could cause gasoline prices to skyrocket.

The Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, is set to attend the speech, sitting with the president’s wife Jill Biden. So will Pat Gelsinger, chief executive officer of Intel Corp, as the Biden administration seeks to showcase efforts to bolster chip supplies.

About two-thirds of Americans support Biden slapping Russia with economic sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

Even so, Americans are concerned about domestic issues, including the economy and high inflation, and allies hope Biden will highlight his successes and address their worries in his speech.

“They want to hear what the solutions might be to contain inflation but while continuing to move a pro-family, pro-worker agenda,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

Saunders said Biden needed to address voting rights, as well. “He’s got to talk about the importance of fighting back and not thinking that the battle is over with as far as voting rights is concerned,” he said. – Rappler.com