The State of the Union address is an annual televised opportunity for the current president to highlight their best accomplishments. In his State of the Union address earlier this month, Joe Biden projected a strong message of optimism, spotlighting his successes since taking office. Biden touted record job growth under his administration, with 6.6 million jobs added in the past year. He touched on how his administration has shrunk the deficit by $1.7 trillion — the greatest decrease of any modern president. He also used the speech as an opportunity to highlight two of his greatest legislative successes thus far, the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The speech played well for Biden, projecting strength and productivity over the first two years of his term.
Despite these past successes, Biden faces a hard road ahead now that Republicans are in control of the House. With Republicans at the helm, it will be much harder for Biden to pass legislation going forward. He will have to work much harder to get bills passed and seek bipartisanship in order to do so. With the House of Representatives under republican control, Biden will need to sway a number of republicans to his side in order to get any bills off the ground. This will be difficult because very few Republicans are willing to come across the aisle and work with Democrats due to the heightened partisanship that exists in our country today. It’s not impossible, but it is definitely a daunting task that will take a lot of effort and skillful negotiation on Biden’s part.
With a Republican-led Congress in 2010, Obama notoriously had extreme difficulty getting any meaningful legislation off the ground due to Republican obstruction. Biden was heckled during his speech by many republicans, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, which just serves to illustrate the stark opposition that he will face with a republican congress going forward. When he was running for president, Biden claimed that he would “lower the temperature” in the country and ease the divide between the political parties. However, this partisan divide has only increased in the two years since he was elected. For Biden, the next two years working with a split legislature will certainly be tough.
Just like during the Obama years, Republicans in the House do not seem willing to compromise with Biden. They are content with obstructing Biden’s agenda even though the legislation he is passing would greatly benefit their own constituents. The Republicans in the house are all about optics, and the American people will suffer because of it. I find it hypocritical that republican lawmakers such as Rick Scott, who vehemently opposed Biden’s infrastructure law, have no issue campaigning on its merits after the fact. Scott claims to have helped secure $1 billion in funds to preserve the Florida Everglades — however, this money was provided by the infrastructure law. Republicans like Scott are taking credit for the benefits of legislation that they opposed and deceiving their voters in the process.
Despite the challenge that lies ahead, Biden has had a long tenure in politics and understands how to use bipartisanship effectively to get things done. I have great faith in his ability to work across the aisle, despite Republican opposition to his agenda. In order to be successful during the second half of his term, Biden needs to both push his agenda as well as compromise with his adversaries. By appealing to the American people, I believe that Biden can force Republicans to play along and legislate. For example, by exposing the republican plan to cut Medicare and Social Security, Biden was able to use public opinion to put them on the hot seat (8). In my view, his best course of action going forward is to publicly expose the Republicans for their obstruction and use the outrage of the American people to his advantage. Public opinion and image are two things that Republicans value above all else. If he is able to pull off this balancing act, the next two years of the Biden Presidency will be tough, but he might just make some legislative strides.
Michael Toscano is a sophomore majoring in business administration.