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Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV community reflects on Biden’s State of the Union Address

Courtesy / CNN

On Thursday, March 7, President Biden delivered the annual State of the Union Address in the swing state of New Hampshire. Biden’s speech focused on several points including the economy, healthcare, the Mexico-United States border, prescription drug prices and education. During the Address, the president unveiled the federal budget proposal and a plan for the U.S. to provide aid to Gaza amidst the humanitarian crisis taking place.

With the presidential election coming up in November, the Address has the ability to influence voters’ opinion on the current administration’s policies and draw attention to key issues moving forward.

Finances and Budgets

During the Address, Biden divulged his plans for a seven trillion-dollar federal budget proposal. This proposal would offer tax breaks for families, lower healthcare costs and raise taxes for big corporations and the wealthy. This will require billionaires to pay at least 25% of their income in taxes.

Some highlights of the federal budget proposal include allocating 900 billion dollars to defense, allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of 500 prescription drugs. Another goal of the budget proposal is to slow down the country’s national debt by cutting the annual deficit spending by three trillion dollars over the next 10 years.

The proposal’s programs, including increases in education spending and student financial aid, are aimed to support low and moderate-income Americans.

“Proposed expenditures (in the budget proposal) are offset by a proposed $5.5 trillion in new tax revenues, raised by increasing taxes on the wealthy and corporations,” said Michelle Miller-Adams, Political Science Professor at Grand Valley State University. “By comparison, President Trump’s 2021 budget proposal of $4.8 trillion included major cuts to social spending programs, including education, designed to pay for his massive tax cut that benefited the richest taxpayers.”

House Republican Leadership was not impressed by Biden’s federal budget proposal, denouncing it in a press release on March 11. The Republican party’s major concern with the proposal are inflation and the national debt crisis. The press release called Biden’s budget “reckless spending” and a “disregard for fiscal responsibility.” 

“​​Their (Republican’s) criticisms have no credibility. While Biden’s budget can be fairly critiqued, Republicans in Congress only shriek about budget deficits when their party is out of power,” said GVSU Political Science Professor Donald Zinman. “Their last president, Donald Trump, blew up the budget deficits, with nary a peep from Republicans in Congress.”

Education in the U.S.

One component of Biden’s education plan is providing access to preschool for three and four-year-olds, as studies have shown that attending preschool increases the likelihood of graduating high school and attending college. The president also wants to expand summer learning and tutoring to help raise literacy rates among young children.

The president expressed his desire to lower tuition rates and discussed his student loan forgiveness plan, which helped reduce debt for over four million Americans.

“The Supreme Court ruled that the president really cannot take executive action to universally end student loan debt, but he does have options under existing laws to forgive loans for smaller sub-categories of borrowers,” Zinman said. “(Biden) has already been doing this, and I expect we will see more of it in 2024.”

Foreign Policy and American Aid

Toward the end of the address, President Biden commented on the Israel-Palestine crisis. Biden voiced concern over the 30,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza. He also discussed bringing hostages held by Hamas back to the United States. 

Biden announced that he would be directing the United States military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier on the coast of Gaza that could receive ships stocked with food, water, medicine and makeshift shelters. Biden plans to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza without deploying U.S. troops. Although many Democrats were pleased with Biden’s statement, many are still calling for a permanent ceasefire.

“The port that the United States wants to build on Gaza’s shore is not meant to help the people of Palestine, it’s meant to occupy them even more than they already are,” said GVSU student Owen Frassetto. “If the United States really wanted to help Palestine, they would end all military aid being sent to Israel, which hurts Palestinians more than anything else.”

Public Opinion of the Address

The State of the Union Address has received mixed responses from the community. In general, Democratic and Republican voters’ reactions have been in line with their respective party loyalties. According to a CNN poll, six out of ten viewers had a positive reaction to the Address. Independent voters’ confidence in Biden’s abilities rose from 51% to 68% after the address. 

“Biden finished strong with hopes for the future and progress yet to be made,” said Michigan State University student Jade Gray to CNN

The State of the Union Address projected Biden’s plans for the remaining time he has in office, in what many people believe is his most important moment before the election.

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