WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Here are some takeaways from U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech to Congress on Tuesday, an address that could serve as a blueprint for his 2024 re-election bid:
BIDEN, REPUBLICANS SPAR
Biden, a Democrat, told Republicans in Congress who have questioned his legitimacy and threatened to block his policies that “there is no reason we can’t work together.”
Many Republicans found reason to disagree, even before his remarks began.
Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who once served as press secretary for Trump, rejected Biden’s speech in a response prepared beforehand.
“In the radical left’s America, Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire,” she said.
And while Democrats were quick to rise in applause, Republicans applauded only sporadically, and remained silent when Biden listed his administration’s accomplishments. Several Republican members remained seated throughout.
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JEERS, THEN AN OVATION
The loudest Republican jeers came when Biden accused Republicans of planning to cut Social Security and Medicare, which some members of the party have suggested but whom Biden said he would not name.
“Liar!” shouted Republican U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.
“We never said that!” said Byron Donalds, another House Republican.
Biden, who seemed to be on the brink of losing control of the room, seized on the apparent Republican lawmakers’ support for the popular old age and healthcare programs, to say: “I enjoy conversion.”
“We got unanimity,” he continued. “Social Security and Medicare are a lifeline for millions of seniors. Americans have to pay into them from the very first paycheck they started. So tonight, so we all agree, and apparently we are, let’s stand up for seniors.”
“Stand up and show them! We will not cut Social Security!” a gleeful-looking Biden said amid cheers as lawmakers from both parties stood.
ATTACK ON BIG COMPANIES
Biden used a large segment of his ostensibly bipartisan pitch attacking corporations, from what he called “Big Pharma” to “Big Oil” and “Big Tech.” Biden accused the pharmaceutical companies of charging too much for insulin but made no mention of their role in tamping down the COVID-19 pandemic.
He accused tech companies of running a for-profit “experiment” on children, said oil companies were making too much money and made a case for higher taxes on billionaires.
“Big corporations aren’t just taking advantage of the tax code,” Biden said. “They’re taking advantage of you, the American consumer.”