President Biden Delivers His 2024 State of the Union Address

March 11, 2024

President Joe Biden's recent State of the Union address lasted just over an hour and packed in highlights of both his Administration's achievements over the past three years and many proposals and requests to Congress to pass legislation. Importantly, after noting a handful of the more than 400 bipartisan bills he has signed, Pres. Biden stated that "more [are needed] to pass my unity agenda."

Pres. Biden's Unity Agenda, when first presented in 2022, had four parts: prioritize mental health, fight cancer, deliver for veterans, and address the opioid and drug overdose epidemic. A fifth focus has been added, which is to hold big tech accountable. Within each area, many goals were laid out in the original agenda. Today, an updated fact sheet on the Unity Agenda was released. The recommitment to this agenda - with two of the focus areas being mental health and the opioid epidemic - should be reflected in the President's forthcoming fiscal year 2025 budget proposal.

At about 20 minutes into his address, Pres. Biden declared, "The state of our union is strong and getting stronger." Among the achievements he cited throughout the remainder of his speech were job growth; reduced inflation; increased exports; passage of the CHIPS Act and Infrastructure law; the gun safety law; reduction of prescription drug costs; student loans forgiven; an over $1 trillion deficit reduction; reduced "junk fees"; the establishment of the Climate Corp and more.

The list of items the Administration is working on or asking Congress for legislation on was also long. Proposals included: increasing the number of drugs where prices are negotiated to 500; protecting and expanding the Affordable Care Act, including making the $800 tax credit permanent; several proposals to address the high cost of housing; universal pre-K for three and four year olds; restoration of the child tax credit; and ramping up enforcement of the Violence Against Women Act. The President specifically asked Congress to send him a border bill and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. He also demanded a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and urged passage of universal background checks.

Noting that "in 2020, 55 of the biggest companies in America made $40 billion in profits and paid zero in federal income taxes", Pres. Biden proposed several tax policies, including increasing the minimum tax rate on large corporations to 21% (from the 15% he signed into law) and a minimum tax rate of 25% for billionaires.

Addressing the situation in the Middle East, Pres. Biden said his Administration will not rest until every American hostage is brought home and stated that Israel "has a fundamental responsibility … to protect innocent civilians in Gaza." He shared that, as of last night, he has ordered the U.S. military "to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the coast of Gaza that can receive large shipments carrying food, water, medicine and temporary shelters".

Interestingly, Pres. Biden made several mentions of his age throughout the night including near his closing, when he stated, "When you get to my age, certain things become clearer than ever before." Both allies and detractors described the address as energetic and forceful. Here are the full transcript and video of the address.

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