Biden’s State of the Union: Memorable Moments and Bold Promises
President Joe Biden's 2023 State of the Union address on Tuesday night had more than a few memorable moments. Most notably, Biden went off-script to respond to heckles from Republican lawmakers in attendance, turning their rowdiness to his advantage. Biden also made bold promises regarding his commitment to veto any national abortion ban and to codify Roe v. Wade.
The night began with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) shouting “liar” at Biden, to which the president calmly responded with a smile. GOP lawmakers also heckled Biden when he accused “some Republicans” of wanting to sunset Social Security and Medicare, a reference to Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s proposal. Biden welcomed the jeers, sarcastically taking credit for GOP “conversions” to the cause of protecting these programs.
The president also boasted that the 12.1 million jobs created in his first two years were more than the number of jobs added in four years under any president. However, this job growth was fueled by a post-pandemic recovery that started under his predecessor, and his comparison doesn’t account for population growth.
Biden then said he had cut the deficit by a record $1.7 trillion, but most of that was due to expiring emergency pandemic spending. The Congressional Budget Office already estimated the budget deficit would fall dramatically in fiscal 2021 and 2022 due to expiring pandemic relief, but then Biden enacted additional covid relief funds and other new policies, resulting in the more modest decline in the deficit.
The president also made a point to reference the large amount of debt that was accumulated under the Trump administration. He said “no president added more to the national debt in any four years” than his predecessor, noting that nearly 25 percent of the entire national debt was added by Trump. It’s accurate, but a large part of that was debt accumulated to help fund Medicare and Social Security.
Finally, Biden vowed to veto any national abortion ban that crosses his desk, such as the 15-week ban proposed by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham last year, and called on Congress to codify Roe v. Wade. He also alluded to the threats to American democracy unleashed by Donald Trump and the insurrection on January 6, 2021.
The night was a reminder of the highly fluid nature of standards of decorum.
0. “Biden flexed his dexterity at the State of the Union” NBC News, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/joe-biden/biden-flexed-dexterity-state-union-social-security-medicare-rcna68925
1. “Why Republican heckling of Biden’s State of the Union mattered” MSNBC, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/maddowblog/republican-heckling-bidens-state-union-mattered-rcna69664
2. “7 takeaways from Biden’s 2023 State of the Union address” Vox.com, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2023/2/7/23590214/takeaways-biden-state-of-union-2023-key-moments
3. “Biden’s State of the Union address: Top 5 moments” Fox News, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/bidens-state-union-address-top-5-moments
4. “Biden Springs Trap for Republicans in State of the Union” New York Magazine, 8 Feb. 2023, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/02/biden-2023-state-of-the-union.html
5. “FactChecking the State of the Union” FactCheck.org, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.factcheck.org/2023/02/factchecking-the-state-of-the-union-4/
6. “Analysis | Biden's 2022 State of the Union proposals: What flopped and what succeeded” The Washington Post, 5 Feb. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/02/05/bidens-2022-state-union-proposals-what-flopped-what-succeeded/
7. “State of the Union 2023: Five takeaways from Biden's speech” BBC, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-64519394
8. “Analysis | Fact-checking President Biden's 2023 State of the Union address” The Washington Post, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/02/07/fact-checking-president-bidens-2023-state-union-address/
9. “Joe Biden’s Spirited State of the Union Speech” The Atlantic, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2023/02/joe-biden-state-of-the-union-republicans-heckle/672989/
10. “Republicans Turn Themselves Into Props for Biden” POLITICO, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2023/02/08/republicans-props-biden-state-of-the-union-00081774