WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — President Joe Biden will deliver his second State of the Union address Tuesday evening before a politically divided Congress. It comes as the nation faces uncertainty amid high inflation, growing tensions with China and an ongoing crisis at the border.
The president is expected to announce his plan to build on the 12 million jobs added to the economy since he took office, putting him on track to be the best job-producing president in history.
However, Biden’s approval rating is near the lowest of his presidency at 40%, putting pressure on him to overcome pessimism in the country and concerns about his own leadership.
The president will stand at the House rostrum at a time when just a quarter of U.S. adults say things in the country are headed in the right direction. About three-quarters say things are on the wrong track and a majority of Democrats don’t want Biden to seek another term, according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research
Biden will aim to confront those sentiments head-on, aides said, while at the same time trying to avoid sounding insensitive to Americans’ concerns.
Republican strategist Melik Abdul told NewsNation that he thinks Biden needs to focus on his accomplishments, saying that while some Republicans may not agree with what he’s done, Biden has successfully achieved some of his goals.
However, Abdul also said that the president should be most concerned about his poll numbers, even if he doesn’t mention them during the address.
Viewers can expect to hear him talk about making more progress against inflation, reducing the deficit by making the wealthiest Americans and corporations pay as well as attacking Republicans by saying he will protect Medicare and Social Security, which some far-right conservatives would cut.
“I want to talk to the American people and let them know the state of affairs, what’s going on, what I’m looking forward to working on from this point on, what we’ve done and just have a conversation with the American people,” the president said.
Tuesday night will be a moment of truth for Biden, marking two years of unified Democratic control in Washington — during which he passed landmark legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act, the American Rescue Plan and Build Back Better.
With Republicans now in control of the House, Biden will turn his focus to implementing the massive laws and making sure voters credit him for the improvements rather than crafting major new initiatives.
But Abdul said that, “With a divided Congress, literally nothing is going to get done.”
“So I expect not just Democrats, I expect that you’re going to see a lot of frustration on the Republican side as well because there are a number of things that many Republicans assumed would happen if Republicans took control of the House,” Abdul said.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll revealed that Americans don’t believe Biden has accomplished very much so far in office. It also showed that most believe the president hasn’t made progress in creating more good jobs or improving roads and bridges in their communities.
The poll response is important because these issues are the president’s greatest hits since taking office. He said Friday that, “The economy is strong” based on the jobs market.
The next two years promise political gridlock with a divided Congress as well as investigations into Biden’s handling of migrants surging at the border and the U.S. exit from Afghanistan.
Biden will also have to answer for the cost-of-living crisis in the country with low wages, high prices and high interest rates.
All of this is intended to set the stage for a possible White House bid for 2024.
With COVID-19 restrictions now lifted, the White House and legislators from both parties are inviting guests designed to drive home political messages with their presence in the House chamber. The parents of Tyre Nichols, who was severely beaten by police officers in Memphis and later died, are among those expected to be in the audience.
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will deliver the Republican response following the president’s State of the Union.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.