US president Joe Biden spoke in his first State of the Union address at a very interesting time. There was a lot on display during the address and as everyone expected, Ukraine took the center stage.
Biden reiterated the US support for Ukraine and their effort to fight the Russian invasion which entered its second week today. The president said that Vladimir Putin will "pay a high price" for the invasion, arguing that the world is united against the war.
This comes as the US and its allies continue to impose heavy sanctions on Russia in response to the war. The US and allies have also sent lethal aid in the form of defensive weapons to be used in the war. But amid the war in Europe, there were still other important matters back home for Biden. The economy, in particular, has been a key issue and the president wasted no time in getting his message across.
Biden talked about increasing wages and bringing the minimum pay to $15 an hour. This comes on the heels of runaway inflation in the country that is at a 40 year high. The president also noted with concern the increasing fuel prices. Although the price of oil and gas has been on the rise, the crisis in Ukraine has made things worse.
Crude oil crossed $114 a barrel for the first time since 2014 and is expected to continue rising in the near term. Biden noted that his administration was coordinating efforts with allies to release over 60 million barrels of oil into the market to stabilize the prices. But the move did not seem to have any effect as prices have continued to rise.
The inflation question is seen as a big impediment for Democrats in the upcoming midterms. Biden poll numbers are very low as well and it is expected that Republicans will gain back the house and the Senate in the coming vote. As the war in Ukraine continues and blowback from American sanctions starts to take effect, the economic status of the US is likely to be negatively impacted.
The Biden administration also talked about the progress that the White House has made so far. Talk about infrastructure was high on the agenda with the president saying the US will have an infrastructure decade. However, even amidst the funfair, there were a few cringe-worthy moments that were highlighted a lot on social media.
The first one was a classic Biden gaffe. While discussing the issue in Ukraine, the president referred to Ukrainians as Iranians. Vice President Kamala Harris was seen in the background shell shocked and mumbling the words Ukrainian. There was also the weird hand rubbing by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Fox News and other media outlets were quick to pick it up and it became an internet sensation. And then there was New York Senator Chuck Schumer who at one point appeared to stand and applaud on his own. Biden in the end reaffirmed that the State of the Union was strong and vowed to continue working for all Americans.