Addressing a concerned nation and anxious world, President Joe Biden vowed in his first State of the Union address Tuesday night (Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2022, in Manila) to check Russian aggression in Ukraine, tame soaring US inflation and deal with the fading but still dangerous coronavirus, Zeke Miller and Colleen Long reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Photo Insert: US President Joe Biden is applauded by Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during his first State of the Union address as Commander-in-Chief.
Biden declared that he and all members of Congress, whatever their political differences, are joined “with an unwavering resolve that freedom will always triumph over tyranny.”
He asked lawmakers crowding the House chamber to stand and salute the Ukrainians as he began his speech. They stood and cheered. It was a notable show of unity after a long year of bitter acrimony between Biden’s Democratic coalition and the Republican opposition.
“Throughout our history we’ve learned this lesson – when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos,” Biden said. “They keep moving. And, the costs and threats to America and the world keep rising.”
As Biden spoke, Russian forces were escalating their attacks in Ukraine, having bombarded the central square of the country’s second-biggest city and Kyiv’s main TV tower, killing at least five people. The Babi Yar Holocaust memorial was also damaged.
Biden announced that the US is following Canada and the European Union in banning Russian planes from its airspace in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine. He also said the Justice Department was launching a task force to go after Russian oligarchs, whom he called “corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime.”
“We are coming for your ill-begotten gains,” he said, pledging that the US and European allies were after their yachts, luxury apartments, and private jets. Biden pivoted in his speech from the troubles abroad to those at home.
Even before the Russian invasion sent energy costs skyrocketing, prices for American families had been rising, and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hurt families and the country’s economy.
Biden outlined plans to address inflation by reinvesting in American manufacturing capacity, speeding supply chains, and reducing the burden of childcare and eldercare on workers.