Summary: Report on U.S. President Biden’s State of the Union before the 118th Congress – Editors
U.S. President Joseph Biden began his State of the Union speech by paying homage to neoliberal and reactionary representatives of the bourgeois alike. He went on to espouse the nationalist notion of ‘American Exceptionalism,’ that the U.S. and its people like no other in the world. Throughout the speech, he referred back to a theme of bipartisanship (thanking Republicans who voted for legislation, such as the Respect for Marriage Equality Act or the CHIPS and Science Act) that was key to his agenda. Biden likely emphasized bipartisanship due to Republican control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
He reasserted his stance that unity among Americans is what makes this country great, seeking to move past the ugliness of January 6th and Trumpism – as though it is a threat put to rest! Biden made little direct reference to the threats to U.S. democracy still present throughout our society. What he did say is this: “And two years ago, democracy faced its greatest threat since the Civil War. And today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken.”
This statement seems to ignore actions taken by governors in red states to significantly curtail the convenience and accessibility of voting, including mail-in ballots. It ignores the newfound influence over Speaker Kevin McCarthy by a reactionary, proto fascist wing of the Republican Party in the U.S. House of Representatives. It ignores the banning of books by schoolboards across the country, such as in Yorba Linda, California (a Democratic stronghold, electorally).
At one point in his speech, Republicans jeered and mocked the president in a manner reminiscent of British Parliament but unusual in the U.S. However, it is becoming increasingly common for partisans to belittle or even mock the president when he is of the opposition party. Nancy Pelosi’s ripping of then President Trump’s 2020 State of the Union speech, which is the Speaker’s job to preserve, comes to mind.
Biden also laid an ambitious economic plan centered around state investment. He referenced Republican President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway initiative as an inspiration for his own infrastructure plan. Again, he references the pathos of American Exceptionalism, arguing that America was once first in infrastructure, can, and should be once again. Biden goes on to argue strong infrastructure is necessary in rebuilding the world’s strongest economy.
Typical of this era of state-capitalism, Biden intends to pass regulation that will bolster the dying U.S. manufacturing industry by requiring manufactured goods used in infrastructure projects be made in the U.S. Notably, this is already a regulation that has been on the books since 1933, around the time the U.S. economy full transitioned towards state-capitalism. The aforementioned CHIPS and Science Act is yet another example of state investment in the hopes of maintaining capital’s supremacy.
Notable victories for the U.S. working-class include a pledge to cap insulin at $35 for everyone regardless of age or Medicare qualifications (currently seniors receiving Medicare 65+ enjoy this benefit). Biden goes on to ask his fellow representatives of the bourgeoisie to “finish the job” and “expand Medicare coverage.”
Another of Biden’s significant key pledges is his intention to increase tax on the wealthiest U.S. individuals and corporations. He did, however, preface it by saying, “Look, I’m a capitalist. I’m a capitalist…” Despite the following claims that he will impose greater taxes on the rich and combat the exorbitant earnings of corporations from Big Oil to Big Pharma, Biden is a capitalist, a representative of the bourgeois, and an enemy of the working-class.
Despite Biden’s pledges to combat climate change and the growing wealth disparity, Biden will not fundamentally challenge the ruling classes; rather, he embodies the notion that the state and its functionaries are proponents of class oppression. There was no mention of defunding the police, that rallying cry has run its course within the Democratic Party’s lists of slogans. There was no talk of military disinvestment. On the contrary, Biden once again appealed to nationalism and the need to deter China in this regard – meaning greater investment, of course. These special bodies of armed men are ultimately the capitalist’s last line of defense.
While Biden made significant pledges to lower prescription drug prices, expand healthcare and broadband, and increase taxes on corporations, stock buybacks, and more he still touted his service in providing investment to the capitalist class and his support of the military and police. Further, his appeals to American nationalism and his willingness to work with reactionary and white-supremacist members of the Republican Party illustrate that we can expect more of the same with only few crumbs tossed to the long-suffering working-class.