Biden to call for unity in State of the Union — after year of White House bashing the GOP

WASHINGTON — President Biden will call for “unity” in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night — after spending much of the past year bashing Republicans himself and his press secretary.

White House officials teased Biden’s 9 p.m. speech — which will also raise taxes on the wealthy — by telling reporters Tuesday morning that he had spoken of “unity” from his State of the Union last year. Doers will end points to argue that “members of both parties can come. Together and deliver for the American people.”

The so-called coalition agenda focuses on four areas — cancer, mental health, veterans care and reducing drug overdoses — while Biden last year pushed Republicans and, in particular, former President Donald Trump’s Make America Great. Agin spent defaming supporters of the movement.

But the sincerity of his message will certainly be viewed as suspect after another year in which Biden and his chief spokeswoman Karen Jean-Pierre publicly lambasted Republican lawmakers and conservative voices on an almost daily basis. .

For example, Biden gave a prime-time speech in Philadelphia in September calling Trump and his allies “a threat to this country” after saying in August that the movement amounted to “quasi-fascism.”

“The Republican Party today is dominated, emboldened and feared by Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans. And that’s a threat to this country,” Biden said in Philadelphia as he made the message central to Democrats’ midterm election strategy. .

President Biden, pictured in last year’s State of the Union speech, will repeat his “Unity” speech.

President Joe Biden
Biden called Trump supporters “a threat to this country” in September.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

In May, Biden said, “This MAGA mob is truly the most extreme political organization that has existed in American history,” before quickly adding, “in recent American history,” other groups such as the Ku Klux Klan hate group Apparently in identity.

Biden even claimed that Trump-aligned Republicans could pass state laws saying “kids who are LGBTQ can’t be in classrooms with other kids” — even though high-profile LGBT members of Trump’s MAGA movement , including Richard Grenell, who in 2020 became the nation’s first openly gay or bisexual Cabinet-level official when Trump appointed him as acting director of national intelligence.

Jean-Pierre has also included a diversion to blame the administration’s woes on the GOP in almost every one of her briefings with the White House press corps.

Speakers at a White House press call Tuesday morning wouldn’t say how much of the State of the Union will focus on “unity” — but the fact that it was the first and so far only press briefing before the speech. Reflects This is likely to be an important theme.

House Republicans regained control last month, blocking much of Biden’s political agenda, including a tax hike he would reportedly float for billionaires.

In the first month of divided power, Biden has refused to negotiate with Republicans on raising the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts — setting up an early standoff with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Which Biden has repeatedly accused of conspiracy. to cut Medicare and Social Security, despite McCarthy saying that’s not true.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy
Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are locked in a spat over spending cuts.
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“Today in his State of the Union, the president announced a new set of policies to advance his agenda of unity and deliver results for families across the country,” a White House official told reporters on a Tuesday morning call. will announce.”

Much of the agenda is close to last year’s calls for progress on cancer and a new ban on online advertising targeted at children.

“Coalition” planks this year include calls for new “entitlements” to housing for the nation’s roughly 16.5 million military veterans, who are most likely to be homeless.

A fact sheet distributed by the White House also said Biden would launch a “sustained diplomatic push that would address fentanyl and its supply chain overseas” — after Republicans called Biden Criticized for not doing more to combat US drug overdose deaths.

White House drug czar Rahul Gupta said on the call that “under President Biden’s leadership, we have begun to make progress on countering deadly drugs” and touted a reform last year that would have allowed doctors was allowed to prescribe less of the opioid treatment drug buprenorphine. red tape.

A reporter asked if Biden would pressure the Chinese government to stop exporting fentanyl as part of his diplomatic push — when Biden did so during the public portion of his first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November. had failed to do.

President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping
Biden did not mention China’s fentanyl exports to XI during their first meeting in November.
Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

“The president is leaning too far when talking to President López Obrador in Mexico or President Xi in China,” Gupta claimed — although the White House omitted any mention of fentanyl from a readout of the private portion of the November meeting. had done Xi, before Biden aides later claimed he mentioned the issue behind closed doors.

“It’s important to focus not only on the precursor chemicals that are being shipped primarily from China – we have a request from the PRC specifically to take action that we know if there are precursor chemicals. Shipments will be significantly reduced if not eliminated – but so is the time to make sure that where fentanyl is produced, which is mostly in Mexico, that we have Mexican authorities and leadership there. are working with,” said Gupta.

Gupta added that “Biden is working with these countries to make sure that we are working with these countries to hold illegal actors accountable in their countries, and we are working with the leaders of these countries to do that.” Going to work to make sure they do justice. They.”

Gupta also appreciated. Preliminary data Last year showed that overdose deaths peaked in March 2022 before declining slightly during August, the most recent month for which preliminary national data is available.

“We’ve now seen five months in a row where the number of overdoses has gone down. That’s about 3,000 people who are not dead and instead are on the dinner table every night,” Gupta said.

Workers near the Capitol Building
Authorities have set up an anti-riot fence for Biden’s speech. However, no civil unrest is expected.
Getty Images

Capitol Building
The barricaded capital resembles the months following the 2021 capital riots.
AFP via Getty Images

However, the victory lap may be premature. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s monthly data for early 2022 includes a disclaimer that the data may be “Underreported due to incomplete data” And every month of the preliminary data for 2022 has been near all-time highs, with the latest provisional data for August only ticking downward towards the record high rate seen in July 2021.

Biden downplayed the number of U.S. fentanyl deaths while raising the issue with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador — after critics slammed him for not paying enough attention to the powerful synthetic opioid, which is Opioid drugs and counterfeit prescriptions are often mixed.

Biden said fentanyl has killed “100,000” Americans, while official figures actually link the powerful synthetic opioid to 196,000 American deaths in 2018-2021 alone.

A record 107,000 Americans will die from drug overdoses in 2021 – More than 71,000 According to CDC data, among them from fentanyl and related compounds. There were About 94,000 Overdose deaths in 2020, of which About 58,000 were linked to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. About 71,000 Overdose deaths in 2019, of which more 36,000 were linked to fentanyl. About 31,000 In 2018.

Congressional Republicans led by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.). In October And me again December Asked Biden to meet to discuss fentanyl while accusing him of not doing more to stem the flow of the drug.

“It’s clear that families’ pleas for the administration to step up its fight against the fentanyl crisis have fallen on deaf ears,” Banks and seven other House Republicans said. Wrote to Biden.

“We respectfully request a meeting so that we can discuss solutions to the fentanyl crisis, discuss what we have learned from constituents…and share with you the memories of loved ones who are grieving, Share a box of photos and letters that want you to make a real-life impact. The refusal to address this crisis is affecting families across our country.

Banks said at the time, “Those 70,000 Americans [who died in 2021] They have names – and they have families and their stories deserve to be heard.”

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