Biden State of the Union live updates: President to push ‘blue-collar’ economic blueprint

Written by on February 7, 2023

President Joe Biden plans to push a “blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America” and call on Republicans to “work together” with Democrats during his State of the Union address before a bitterly divided Congress, according to excerpts of his speech released by the White House.

The latest on Biden’s speech:

  • Speech starts at 9 p.m. EST: Biden’s second State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol will be livestreamed by USA TODAY.
  • What he’ll say: “The people sent us a clear message,” Biden intends to say. “Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere.”
  • Blue-collar pitch: Promoting his economic plan, Biden will assure Americans that he wants to invest in “places and people that have been forgotten,” arguing that “too many people have been left behind or treated like they’re invisible.”
  • He’ll push billionaire taxes, insulin prices: He will also renew his calls for a minimum tax on billionaires, a cap on insulin prices for all Americans, extending expanded Medicaid coverage to all states and other Democratic priorities that face an uphill battle.
President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, March 1, 2022.

How would Biden’s billionaire tax work?

Tonight Biden will resurface his plan to levy more taxes on the ultra-wealthy. But how would that work?

Under the current tax system, you don’t have to pay taxes on assets like stocks, homes and artwork that can appreciate over time until you sell it. But if you hold onto them until you die, you won’t have to pay any taxes. And on top of that, heirs that inherit your assets won’t have to pay taxes if they sell them.

The Biden Administration refers to this as a tax loophole, as billionaires benefit the most since they’re more likely than working-class Americans to get compensated via stocks or other assets that appreciate over time or inherit them.

To end the practice, Biden is proposing “minimum income tax” on American households worth more than $100 million. His plan calls for the wealthiest Americans to pay a tax rate of at least 20% on their full income, including unrealized gains from assets that have increased in value since their purchase.

– Elisabeth Buchwald

Taxing billionaires:Should the wealthy pay taxes on expensive art and wine? Joe Biden thinks so. Here’s how it would work

Sarah Huckabee Sanders: Biden is more interested in ‘woke fantasies’ than concerns of everyday Americans

In delivering the Republican response to the State of the Union, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sander plans to attack Biden and the Democrats over a panoply of issues that include inflation, taxes, education and so-called “culture wars.”

“And while you reap the consequences of their failures, the Biden administration seems more interested in woke fantasies than the hard reality Americans face every day,” Sanders plans to say, according to speech excerpts released by her office.

Another excerpt: “Most Americans simply want to live their lives in freedom and peace, but we are under attack in a left-wing culture war we didn’t start and never wanted to fight.”

– David Jackson

FILE - Then-Arkansas Gov.-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders answers a question while taking part in a panel discussion during a Republican Governors Association conference on Nov. 16, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. Sanders is scheduled to deliver the response Tuesday night, Feb. 7, 2023 less than a month after being sworn in as the first woman of governor.

State of the Union guests:Lawmakers highlight policing, abortion, wrongful imprisonment

How long does the State of the Union last? What it will take for Biden to set a SOTU record 

Biden’s first State of the Union address in 2022 was somewhere between the longest and shortest speeches ever given, according to The American Presidency Project. Will he keep his second address tonight short and sweet, or will he be long-winded?

If he intendeds to break the record for the shortest speech ever, he’d have it keep it under 28 minutes and 55 seconds. That was the time Richard Nixon took to deliver his address in 1972. To beat the longest address ever, he’d have to outdo his fellow Democrat former President Bill Clinton, who went on for 1 hour, 28 minutes and 40 seconds for his final State of the Union speech in 2000. Clinton also claims the spot for the second longest address, clocking in at 1 hour, 24 minutes and 58 seconds in 1995.

– Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy

Biden to promise investment in ‘places and people that have been forgotten’

Biden will spend part of his address promoting his economic plan and assuring Americans that he wants to invest in “places and people that have been forgotten.”

Amid the economic upheaval of the past four decades, too many people have been left behind or treated like they’re invisible, he will say, according to excerpts of the speech released by the White House.

“Maybe that’s you watching at home,” Biden will say. “You remember the jobs that went away. And you wonder whether a path even exists anymore for you and your children to get ahead without moving away. I get it. That’s why we’re building an economy where no one is left behind. Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back because of the choices we made in the last two years. This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America and make a real difference in your lives.”

– Michael Collins

Biden to praise recovery from Jan. 6 riot, COVID

President Joe Biden will say “the story of America is a story of progress and resilience” in his State of the Union address as he touts a rebounding economy, COVID-19 recovery and democracy that survived the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack, according to excerpts of the speech provided by the White House.

Biden will tout 12 million new jobs created under his presidency – many that came back following the pandemic – to claim economic progress. And he will reflect on a period two years ago when businesses and schools closed at the height of the pandemic.

“Today, COVID no longer controls our lives,” Biden plans to say. “And two years ago, our democracy faced its greatest threat since the Civil War. Today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken.”

– Joey Garrison

Biden to ask Republicans to work with him in SOTU speech

President Joe Biden will make a plea to Republicans in Congress to work with him. He said after the November elections that Americans sent a divided Congress to Washington because they want them to work together.

“The people sent us a clear message,” Biden will say, according to excerpts released from the White House. “Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere.”

– Erin Mansfield

Why Sen. Patty Murray and other lawmakers will be wearing crayons at State of the Union

Washington Sen. Patty Murray and some of her Democratic colleagues will be wearing crayon pins to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday to signal their support for greater investments in child care. Such care now costs more than $10,000 a year on average, and roughly half of Americans live in a child care desert. Insufficient child care takes a toll on America’s economy, recent research shows, costing taxpayers $122 billion annually. 

Partisan gridlock has prevented progress on major child care reforms, such as Murray’s Child Care for Working Families Act, which would generally cap child care expenses at 7% of a family’s household income. Biden, who alluded to that cap in his last State of the Union, has also struggled to gain traction on his child care proposals.

– Alia Wong

Lawmakers to highlight key social issues through guests

Tuesday night’s State of the Union address will be the first year since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic where lawmakers are allowed to bring their own guests. As part of tradition, lawmakers tend to invite guests that draw attention to issues important to them.

Several Democratic lawmakers have invited guests to champion abortion access such as Roslyn Roger Collins, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Metropolitan New Jersey, who will attend the address alongside Rep. Bob Mendendez, D-N.J., according to Planned Parenthood.

In the wake of the brutal beating and subsequent death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee, members of the Congressional Black Caucus are bringing guests who have been impacted by police violence. House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has invited Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who died at the hands of a New York police officer in 2014. 

– Christine Fernando and Ken Tran

Republican response: Sarah Huckabee Sanders follows in historic footsteps with her State of the Union response 

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the first former White House press secretary to deliver a formal State of the Union response – she is not, however, the first governor of Arkansas to do the honors.

Back in 1985, the Democrats picked a young governor of Arkansas to deliver their response to President Ronald Reagan.

His name? Bill Clinton … then-future President Bill Clinton.

Sanders will give the Republican rebuttal after Biden’s speech. 

– David Jackson

5 big questions for the SOTU:Is he running? 5 big questions Joe Biden will answer in the State of the Union

Biden and China: Spy balloon likely to be addressed

The speech is a chance for Biden to respond to those who have criticized how he handled the suspected Chinese spy balloon that drifted over the United States last week – and to send a public message to China. Republicans have accused Biden of showing weakness by not shooting down the balloon sooner.

Tensions have been rising with China, which the U.S. considers its biggest strategic and economic competitor. The nations have clashed over Taiwan, technology, human rights, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other disputes.

The Biden administration has been trying to stabilize the relationship, building what it’s called “guardrails” as it normalizes interaction. But one effort to do that – sending Secretary of State Antony Blinken to China – was postponed because of the balloon incident.

– Maureen Groppe and Michael Collins

Intel chair: China balloon flew over nuke sites

Biden to lay out ‘forceful approach’ to combatting fentanyl

The Biden administration will launch a national campaign to educate young people on the dangers of fentanyl, part of the “forceful approach” for going after fentanyl trafficking and reducing overdose deaths.

Other steps include:

  • Using new large-scale scanners to improve efforts to stop fentanyl from being brought into the U.S. through the southern border.
  • Working with package delivery companies to catch more packages containing fentanyl from being shipped around the country.
  • Working with Congress to make permanent a temporary tool that that’s helped federal agents crack down on drugs chemically similar to fentanyl.

– Maureen Groppe

5 big questions on Biden’s speech:Is he running? 5 big questions Joe Biden will answer in the State of the Union

Biden to plug job market as recession looms

President Joe Biden is expected to take credit for a booming job market and easing inflation when he speaks to the nation Tuesday night.

But he’ll likely leave out a litany of trouble spots, including a slumping housing market, a monthslong manufacturing downturn and elevated recession risk this year. Meanwhile, inflation is still high and economists pin at least some of the blame on Biden for showering Americans with cash in early 2021 while the economy was already healing.

– Paul Davidson

State of the economy:A look at economy’s strengths, weaknesses as Biden sets to boast of record job growth in State of Union

Who is Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Arkansas governor to giver Republican response to Biden’s State of the Union address

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, one-time White House press secretary for former President Trump and current governor of Arkansas, will deliver the Republican rebuttal to Biden’s State of the Union address tonight.

Sanders, the youngest governor in the U.S., hails from a prominent political family. Her father Mike Huckabee was the 44th governor of Arkansas, serving from 1996 to 2007 before launching an unsuccessful presidential bid during the 2008 election. The younger Sanders has since cut out her own place in GOP politics, emerging as one of the more high-profile members of the Trump administration.

– Anna Kaufman 

Bono, Tyre Nichols’ family members among guests sitting with first lady Jill Biden Tuesday night

The lead singer for the rock group U2, Bono, and Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., Oksana Markarova, are among the White House guests attending President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday.

Guests are chosen to highlight themes of the president’s speech or because they represent his policy initiatives.

Bono is the cofounder of the ONE campaign to fight poverty and preventable diseases, and (RED), which fights HIV/AIDS in Africa. Other guests who will be sitting with first lady Jill Biden during the speech include:

  • The mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man who died after being beaten by Memphis police officers.
  • Brandon Tsay, the man who disarmed the Monterey Park gunman who killed 11 people and injured 10 others during a Lunar New Year celebration.
  • A Texas woman who almost died because doctors were concerned that intervening when her pregnancy ran into difficulties would violate the state’s abortion ban.
  • One of the Massachusetts same-sex couples who sued the state for the right to marry in 2001.

– Maureen Groppe

What to expect from tonight’s speech:Here’s what you can expect from Joe Biden’s speech

Biden’s speech comes amid job gains

One accomplishment Biden is sure to bring up tonight is the level of job gains under his presidency. Since he took office the unemployment rate went from 6.3% to 3.4%, per the latest jobs data. 

Despite recession fears and massive tech layoffs, U.S. employers added 517,000 new jobs last month, well exceeding economists’ expectations of around 180,000 new jobs. 

The blowout jobs report paved the way for the Federal Reserve to pass more rate hikes aimed at lowering inflation, Fed Chairman Powell said in remarks he delivered earlier today. But the rate hikes could push the economy closer to a recession, which the central bank has avoided so far.

– Elisabeth Buchwald

Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan remains stalled

Biden has yet to fulfill his campaign promise of canceling at least $10,000 in student loan debt. Last year he unveiled a plan to make good on his promise.

However the plan is being stalled by legal challenges. Six states – Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina – formed a coalition to fight the proposal. They argue that canceling student loan debt extends beyond the administration’s legal authority.

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments for the case later this month. The Biden administration claims it is well within their legal realm to proceed with its plan. It cannot do so unless the Court rules in its favor, however.

– Elisabeth Buchwald

Stock market under Biden

Since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 10%. Last year the index fell into a bear market, meaning it dropped 20% below a market peak set last January.  

During former President Donald Trump’s time in office, the Dow gained 56%. That represents an annualized gain of close to 12%, one of the best stock market performances under a Republican president according to data from LPL Financial. 

– Elisabeth Buchwald

What time is the State of the Union speech tonight?

Biden’s State of the Union speech is Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST. 

How to stream the SOTU

The speech will be livestreamed by USA TODAY

Who is the designated survivor tonight?

The State of the Union address, delivered to a joint session of Congress and a crowd that includes all nine Supreme Court justices, poses a unique scenario in which every key member of the nation’s leadership is in one room.

That makes it both a momentous affair, and a significant national security risk. For this reason, each year one member of the president’s Cabinet dubbed the “designated survivor” hangs back.

The practice dates back to the Cold War, during which fears of a Soviet Nuclear attack abounded and a fresh urgency surrounded protocols for the order of presidential succession. The designated survivor for 2023 has not yet been announced, but heads of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Energy have most frequently been chosen. 

– Anna Kaufman

What channel is the State of the Union on?

The major TV networks and other news outlets, such as Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and PBS, are providing live coverage of the address.

What is the State of the Union address?

The State of the Union address isn’t just a tradition in the nation’s capital. It’s rooted in the Constitution.  

Article II of the Constitution says the president shall “from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union.” 

That doesn’t mean the president has to give a speech – as they often do today.  

“From that very general mandate in the Constitution has evolved into what we recognize today as a yearly event, with lots of pomp and circumstance,” Claire Jerry, a curator of political history at the National Museum of American History, told USA TODAY. 

– Marina Pitofsky

When did the annual message become known as State of the Union address?

From 1790 to 1946, the speech delivered by the president to Congress was known simply as the “Annual Message.”

In 1947 is became the ‘State of the Union’ and has since been referred to by that name.

– Anna Kaufman

What is the origin of the state of the union address?

Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution states that the president will “give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

This language birthed the practice, allowing the executive to deliver to a joint session of Congress and the American people.

In the modern era, the speech has become a vehicle for administrations to roll out their policy priorities for the coming year and spotlight key agenda issues.

– Anna Kaufman

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