Biden’s Populist Barn Burner

The president pounded kitchen table issues at his State of the Union address—and delighted in baiting Republicans.

Jacqueline Martin/Pool/Zuma

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Sounding a note of unremitting economic populism, President Biden put unleashing domestic economic might at the heart of his third State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Heralding several of his administration’s landmark legislative wins as “blue-collar blueprint” for American growth, Biden detailed an agenda that included going after the tax-evading rich, pandemic profiteers, and social media companies, while promising to enshrine workers’ rights and create a clean-energy future.

“Where is it written that America can’t lead the world in manufacturing?” he said, to a rare moment of bipartisan applause. “Now, thanks to all we’ve done, we’re exporting American products and creating American jobs.”

It wasn’t just hip-pocket issues. By turns relaxed, jovial, and combat-ready, Biden wove together a story of a nation emerging from a set of devastating events with promises of economic revitalization centered on job creation. “We’re building an economy where no one is left behind,” he said. “Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back, because of the choices we made in the last two years.”

Biden noted that inflation is finally falling, that unemployment is at a 50-year-low of 3.4 percent, and that bipartisan laws like the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act passed during his presidency have the potential to create thousands of American jobs. Biden also touted a cap for insulin for people on Medicare and urged Congress to expand that cap to all Americans. A repeated refrain was, “Let’s finish the job.”

But the conviviality was short-lived.

Biden was met with boos and jeers from Republicans when he said, “Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) appeared to yell, “You lie!”

“Anybody who doubts it, contact my office, I’ll give you a copy of the proposal,” Biden quipped to even more guffaws, before turning the incident on its head. “So folks, as we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right? We’ve got unanimity!”

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If one thing came out of the StateoftheUnion—it’s this! #joebiden #medicare #socialsecurity #politics

♬ Headin’ North – Warriors to Dust

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has proposed sunsetting all federal legislation, including Social Security and Medicare, every five years. Other Republicans have called for raising the retirement ages for Social Security and Medicare benefits and increasing many older adults’ health care premiums.

Watch the full address below:

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