Biden pledges to control Russian aggression and fight inflation

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has pledged to make the Russian leader pay for the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and outlined his national plan to address spiraling inflation and rising costs for Americans during his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

“He has no idea what’s coming,” Biden said to applause during the speech.

The president announced that the United States would close its airspace to Russian flights and impose more economic sanctions that have inflicted financial hardship on that country’s elites. Yachts, planes and luxury apartments would be seized, he said.

“Throughout our history, we’ve learned this lesson – when dictators don’t pay the price for their aggression, they cause more chaos,” Biden said.

Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova sat in the Chamber gallery as a guest of the first lady.

Biden said that Putin thought he could roll in Ukraine and the world would be turned upside down, “instead he met a wall of force he never imagined. He met the people of Ukraine.

National challenges

But alongside the crisis in Eastern Europe, Biden has solved problems at home.

The president touted the US bailout and a bipartisan infrastructure bill to inspire confidence in his stalled economic agenda in Congress. He acknowledged the economic woes of inflation and rising costs of consumer goods that resulted in his lowest public approval ratings during his year-long presidency.

Biden said his proposals to Congress would create more jobs through domestic car and semiconductor manufacturing, reducing reliance on foreign-made products. This prompted a Democratic chant of “USA, USA, USA”, in the chamber.

“Economists call this ‘increasing the productive capacity of our economy.’ I call it building a better America,” the president said.

Biden pointed to last year’s economic growth following the coronavirus pandemic that crippled states, including Nevada, with business closures, reduced travel, unemployment and the death of more than 800,000 Americans who died with COVID-19.

Since then, the economy has rebounded.

Vaccine production and distribution have ramped up, but mandates on vaccinations and other restrictions issued by the Biden administration have been halted or overturned in federal court. It also created a backlash from Tories who say the measures were government overreach. Biden has said the country can end business and school closings. “Our schools are open. Let’s keep it that way. Our children need to be in school,” he said to applause.

Republican and progressive reactions

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds delivered the Republican response from Des Moines.

Reynolds rose to prominence during the pandemic when she, like other Republican governors, rejected federal mandates and eased restrictions on masks and social distancing guidelines.

She blasted the Biden administration on foreign policy, border policy, education and the coronavirus response for “focusing on political correctness rather than military readiness.”

Despite the optimistic picture painted by Biden on the state of the union, most Republicans, like Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada, said “it’s been a tough year.”

“I don’t think you need an elephant tattoo or a donkey tattoo anywhere on you to know that this has been a pretty nasty year for this country in terms of border security, energy security, economics, inflation, foreign relations, the whole gamut,” Amodei told the Review-Journal.

Biden’s speech also drew a response from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, ignored by centrists who face headwinds ahead of the midterm elections that could shift the balance of power in the House and Senate. .

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., presented a “working families majority” agenda, with things like affordable housing, better wages and fighting climate change.

But most Democrats were united in their praise for Biden’s first-year progress, if not somewhat frustrated by the lack of cohesion within their own party to push legislation forward to fulfill the promises they had. made to voters in the last election.

Biden took credit for a pandemic stimulus package that received bipartisan support.

The $2 trillion U.S. bailout provided unemployment benefits, small business assistance and a tax credit for working families that helped lift children out of poverty, Rep. Dina Titus said. , D-Nev.

“The president has something to brag about,” Titus said. “Nevada is recovering at the fastest rate of any state in the country and Las Vegas had the highest job gain in 2021 in the nation among major metropolitan areas.”

victory tower

Biden announced new measures to crack down on waste and fraud in pandemic relief packages, including a Justice Department chief prosecutor who will prosecute such cases. And he also claimed bipartisan support for his plan to inject federal investments into job-creating infrastructure projects — a goal his predecessor failed to achieve. “We’re done talking about infrastructure weeks,” Biden said. “We’re going to have a decade of infrastructure.”

Biden and first lady Jill Biden will take a victory lap Wednesday on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, traveling to Wisconsin to highlight the increase in well-paying jobs created by construction, repair and and expansion of roads, bridges, water supply systems and high-speed Internet.

Nevada Democrats hailed the bipartisan infrastructure law as a boon to the state, with water projects, funding for wildfire prevention, rural and low-income internet access and money to modernize schools.

Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., helped draft legislation to extend high-speed internet to underserved communities to help Nevadans access telehealth and education programs through accessibility and financial aid.

Wildfire prevention and funds to fight the blazes that have scorched Western states were set up by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who along with Rep. Susie Lee secured a massive system improvement project water supply in southern Nevada.

Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., House Ways and Means Committee member, tax editor, defended child tax credits that he says have been crucial for low-income and minority families facing to the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Titus, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was instrumental in funding airports, railroads, and other projects throughout the state.

As for Amodei, “the jury is still out on what this means for Nevada,” he said of the infrastructure law.

Biden’s push for clean energy, at the expense of fossil fuels, is driving up costs in Nevada where trucking is used for goods, services and building new homes in a rapidly growing state, he said. declared.

The price of buying new homes has skyrocketed, Amodei said.

Always pushing big package

Biden advocated for Congress to pass his proposed set of social program spending that would be paid for by tax hikes on corporations and the nation’s wealthiest earners.

He is stalled in the Senate due to GOP opposition, backed by Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia who denies Democrats in the equally split Senate a majority vote that could be broken by Vice President Kamala Harris.

And Manchin also voted with Republicans to reject a Senate measure this week to codify abortion rights, currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court with challenges from Roe v. Wade.

But Biden needs Manchin’s vote to confirm U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Justice Katanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, replacing retired Justice Stephen Breyer, whom Biden has hired. during his speech.

Biden listed a long list of priorities, from immigration reform, LGBQT rights, gun control, voting rights and a plan to lower prescription drug costs. But he also announced a unity agenda with things like fighting the opioid epidemic, providing mental health care, supporting veterans and ending cancer.

“We can do these things. It’s in our power,” Biden said. “And I don’t see any partisan advantage for any of them.”

Political polarization is still high; Biden delivered the address under heightened security at the Capitol, with security fencing erected outside as a precaution.

Contact Gary Martin at [email protected] To follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

Christi C. Elwood