Biden delivers first Oval Office speech, celebrates ‘crisis averted’

President Biden used his presidency’s first Oval Office speech to declare victory after a bipartisan agreement to raise the debt ceiling was passed by both houses of Congress, preventing a default and chaos economic.

In the 13-minute speech, the president praised Republican and Democratic negotiators and praised Chairman Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) for working with him on the deal, which the two men finalized days before the Treasury run out of money to pay the country’s bills.

But even as he thanked his political opponents, Biden was quick to draw a contrast to them. He recalled earlier Republican calls to cut Social Security and Medicare, and he criticized their proposals to cut Medicaid, clean energy investments and funding for the Internal Revenue Service.

“Republicans may not like it,” he said, “but I’m going to make sure the rich pay their fair share. … I’m going to come back and with your help, I’m going to win.

Friday’s prime-time speech from behind the Resolute Desk represented something of a game-changer for Biden. Some Democrats worried the president was too quiet during the weeks of negotiations, allowing McCarthy to monopolize media attention. The Oval Office address allowed him to speak directly to the American people not at a time of impending crisis but, as he told the country, “report on a crisis averted.”

“Nobody got everything they wanted, but the American people got what they needed,” Biden said. “We avoided an economic crisis – an economic collapse.”

Biden said he plans to sign the debt ceiling compromise on Saturday.

The legislation, which includes spending caps and some changes to energy permits and social programs, was passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress.

Some progressive Democrats who voted against the deal raised concerns about what they called a debt ceiling ‘hostage-taking’ or the deal easing energy and making changes to programs social programs such as SNAP, also known as food stamps.

Members of the far-right Freedom Caucus group also opposed the bill, saying it did not go far enough in reducing government spending.

The president could use a win. His approval ratings sank into the low 40s and plummeted as debt ceiling negotiations escalated and fears of a catastrophic default grew. He tripped and fell on stage after addressing graduates of the United States Air Force Academy on Thursday. A White House aide then tweeted to assure the public that the 80-year-old president was “fine”.

Voters may not be paying close attention to the debt ceiling drama.

“Right now people are probably starting to plan their summer vacations and worry about issues closer to home…” Rose Kapolczynski, a West Coast-based political consultant, told The Times. “The debt limit is very important to America and the economy. But it’s pretty murky.”

But voters — especially the Democrats and independents Biden needs to win re-election — tend to tell pollsters they want their leaders to compromise.

According to a February PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll, 70% of Americans believe it is more important to compromise on solutions than to remain on principle in the face of an impasse. That figure was highest among Democrats and Independents, who said they supported the compromise at rates of 83% and 69% respectively.

“Most voters want the leaders of both parties to work together,” Kapolczynski said. “They also want leaders to stand up for what they believe in. Sometimes those two things conflict. But in this case, Biden felt he made a deal that did both.”

The president made that point Friday night, beginning and ending his speech with statements about unity and bipartisanship.

“I know bipartisanship is hard and unity is hard, but we can never stop trying,” he said. “Joining our forces as Americans means stopping the shouting, lowering the temperature and working together to continue progress.”

Biden’s potential Republican competitors, however, lambasted the debt ceiling deal.

Former President Trump said he would have allowed a default before conceding what Republicans did; Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the deal would leave the country “heading for bankruptcy”. Former Vice President Mike Pence said the deal “uses Washington’s smoke and mirror games to make small reforms.”

Presidents have always used the Oval Office to convey messages of immense importance in times of national crisis and tragedy.

President George W. Bush addressed the country from his office shortly after the September 11 attacks. President George HW Bush used his first speech from the Oval Office to deliver a message about the dangers of drugs while holding a bag of what he described as crack cocaine. President Obama delivered his first speech in the Oval Office in June 2010 after visiting the site of a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Before Biden’s speech on Friday, the last speech from the Oval Office was Jan. 13, 2021, when Trump condemned the violence in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and called for calm ahead of Biden’s inauguration, an event he did not acknowledge. or attend.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Leave a Comment