top of page

Biden's 2023 State Of The Union

Government Works, “Let’s Finish the Job”—President Biden’s Second State of the Union Address February 8, 2023

“Government.” Say that word to most Democrats and he/she will state that government, especially at the national level, can be used to help millions of Americans get jobs, obtain health care, and preserve key elements in the social safety net, including Medicare and Social Security. Say “government” to most GOPers, and he/she will consider that word a curse “most foul.” Even though GOPers run for state and national office, most of them aim to win so that they can do their “level best”(worst) to destroy government. Many GOPers, especially the extremist Tea Party gang and “leading lights” of the present 118th House of Representatives agree with right-wing ideologue Grover Norquist’s words. As Norquist infamously once stated, he aimed to “starve the beast (government) and reduce its size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub (See, 2/12/19).” Norquist had one big ally-- GOP “hero” President Ronald Reagan. In an August 12, 1986 news conference, Reagan stated his key mantra that “Team Red” continues to believe and act upon, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help (’”

Democratic President Biden, however, has no qualms about taking head on the GOP’s anti-government beliefs. In his second State of the Union address, delivered on February 7, 2023, he told the joint session of Congress and millions of radio listeners and television viewers how helpful government is to the American people. He spoke of how America is coming back after the COVID-19 pandemic. In front of a House with a GOP majority, although a very small one (a 4-seat margin) and a 51-49 Democratic Senate, he spoke of the major accomplishments he has achieved in his first two years in the Oval Office. He stated he had already signed 300 acts where Democrats and Republicans had come together and he pushed them to “finish this (bipartisan) job (cnn. com, 2/07/23).” In his address, he spoke of how he tells foreign diplomats that the one word that describes America is “possibilities (” And how can America create possibilities for progress and hope? By working with people from both parties. Biden declared, “The people sent us a clear message. Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict gets us nowhere.” Instead, he noted, “we’ve been sent here to finish the job (, Baker, P., 2/07/23).” He spoke of the recently announced 3.4% unemployment rate, the lowest in 50 years (cnn. com, 2/07/23). He stated that inflation has been falling in the past 6 months and that 10 million Americans have started new businesses (, 2/07/23). He invoked his “finish-the-job” mantra a dozen times in his 73-minute speech (, Baker). He called on Congress to pass legislation to secure voting rights and pushed for more reasonable gun control including banning assault weapons. Biden noted that he had originally helped ban assault weapons as a Senator during Bill Clinton’s administration and that crime had then decreased. However, since this legislative provision had expired, violent crime has increased. With the National Rifle Association-dominated GOP in control of the House and with the Republican ability to invoke the Senate filibuster, voting rights protections and more gun control will be very hard to pass. Still, Biden has strongly challenged the GOP on these matters. When he, no doubt, runs for re-election in 2024, he is laying out some very strong election themes.

Biden warned Congress and the public that the threats by some of “Team Red’s” members to cut Social Security and Medicare and holding a budget agreement hostage to get such cuts will be vetoed by him (See,2/07/23 & Baker,, 2/07/23). Despite GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) telling his troops to behave prior to Biden’s speech, several “Team Red” members heckled our President. When Biden mentioned the fentanyl drug crisis and talked about some GOPers trying to cut Social Security and Medicare, he was yelled at with cries of “The border! The border! It’s your fault!” Ultra-extremist Cong. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) yelled “Liar” at Biden over his Social Security and Medicare comments. Another GOPer, shouted “BS,” and I don’t mean Bachelor of Science. Biden hit the Congressmember Greene right back. He told her to “contact his office” where she could receive proof of GOPers repeatedly talking about gutting Social Security and Medicare (Baker,, 2/07/23). When GOPers continued by booing and denying that they were planning to cut social programs, Biden pronounced himself “happy” (LOL) that they were agreeing to leave these programs alone. Biden said, “I’m glad to see-no, I tell you, I enjoy conversion.” Biden, a devout Catholic, was laughingly talking about GOPers changing their political religion to “save” key social programs (See, Baker). Of course, Biden and no other Democrats would ever believe GOPers have suddenly become supporters of social programs that would help the middle class. Biden additionally pushed for legislation that would reform credit card fees, airline fees, and overdraft fees (, Baker, 2/07/23).

Biden gave a shout out to the parents of Tyre Nichols who were present at his address and sitting with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. Tyre Nichols was the Black man beaten to death by five Memphis, TN police officers. President Biden begged lawmakers to overhaul policing although he emphasized that most police officers were good and decent at their risky jobs (See, Baker). In addition, Biden saluted two other invitees to his State of the Union address, Brandon Tsay and Paul Pelosi. Tsay, remember, heroically grabbed the gun from the Monterey Park, CA dance hall shooter on 1/21/2023 during a lunar New Year festival, and saved many lives during that horrible massacre. Paul Pelosi, the husband of former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, suffered a skull fracture when a crazed and unrepentant MAGA attacker assaulted him in his San Francisco home just before the 11/2022 midterm election. Pelosi’s assailant wanted to attack his wife Nancy who was in D.C. at that time (See Photography Staff, 2/07/23). About 95% of Biden’s State of the Union address was devoted to domestic policy. Biden did, however, mention how under his leadership, the U.S. had united NATO and stood up to Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s brutal and unprovoked attack on Ukraine ( As he did in a previous State of the Union address, he applauded the Ukrainian ambassador listening in the House chamber to his address.

It takes months to prepare a State of the Union (SOTU) address and the President has to take time to go over what key issues he will put into it with his staff. He must certainly rehearse delivering the speech. Pres. Biden did all this as he does with all his high-profile speeches. He demanded that sentences in the SOTU speech are delivered clearly with no acronyms and that the public “gets” his accomplishments. He understands that far too many Americans have not paid attention to his achievements, and the SOTU address is one of the few times he can explain them to a large audience (See, Rogers, K., 2/06/23). This SOTU address was worked on by several of Biden’s loyal aides. Since this SOTU speech heavily dealt with policy-related issues, Pres. Biden turned to Bruce Reed, his deputy chief of staff in dealing with these matters (, Rogers, K., 2/06/23). Meet Mr. Reed.

Boise, Idaho native Bruce Reed (62) was raised in Coeur d’Alene, ID. His mother, Mary Lou Reed was a former state senator. Bruce Reed received a 1982 BA from Princeton University. A Rhodes Scholar, Reed earned his Master’s Degree at England’s Oxford University (, Donovan-Smith, O., 12/29/20). From 1985-1989, Reed served as then Sen. Al Gore’s (D-TN) chief speechwriter and was described as a “gifted writer” by a former colleague (, Rogers, 2/06/23). In 1992, Reed served as deputy campaign manager for policy in the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign. During Bill Clinton’s presidency, Reed served as chief domestic policy adviser and director of the Domestic Policy Council. Reed worked closely with then Sen. Biden to pass the 1994 crime bill ( Reed helped write the 1996 welfare reform bill for Clinton. Reed is credited with coining the phrase, “end welfare as we know it (Carney & Tumulty, 10/30/2000,” In 2006, Reed co-wrote a book with Rahm Emanuel, who later became Obama’s chief-of-staff. The book, “The Plan: Big Ideas for America,” emphasized that Democrats should concentrate on recasting FDR’s New Deal agenda for a “more mobile society (, 1/28/09).”

Reed was the policy director of the moderate DLC (Democratic Leadership Council) whose members included Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Joe Biden (Geismer, 2022). Reed was founding editor of the DLC magazine “The New Democrat (” In 2010, Reed became executive director and president of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform which dealt with balancing the budget during that time of recession (Eggan, D.,, 11/10/10). In the Obama administration, Reed served as VP Biden’s chief-of-staff from 1/14/2011-12/01/2013. Reed next served with the non-profit Broad Foundation where he became its president (Cassella, 12/22/20, During the 2020 presidential campaign, Reed worked as a technology policy adviser to Biden (, Feiner, L., 12/02/20). After winning the Presidency, Biden announced that Reed would serve as White House deputy chief-of-staff (Nichols, 12/22/20, Reed was on close terms with Biden’s first chief-of-staff Ron Klain (wiki).

On January 6, 2021, just two weeks before Biden’s inauguration, Reed and Biden were in Biden’s Wilmington, DE house. The two of them were polishing up a speech on small business that Biden intended to give that afternoon. The television was on, and suddenly, the Trump-inspired MAGA riot started. Reed and Biden watched the MAGA riot build. Reed quickly realized that “it soon became clear that he (Biden) was going to need to give a different speech (Whipple, “The Fight Of His Life,”2023).” Biden received much credit for his new speech condemning this attempted coup. On Inauguration Day, when Biden first entered the Oval Office as our 46th President, Reed was one of the advisers waiting there for him (Whipple).

Despite many pundits and GOPers yelling that Biden was too old to give a good SOTU address, and therefore, by implication, not ready to run for re-election in 2024, Biden showed his clear vitality and feistiness in this major 2/07/23 speech ( Biden’s vigor was no surprise whatsoever to Reed. Reed often accompanied his boss on most of his long trips, including those overseas. On the way back from Geneva, Switzerland in 6/2021, all of Biden’s advisers, including Reed, were trying to doze off. Only Biden was not fatigued. He kept telling stories most of the way home, for a period of five hours. According to Reed, Biden’s stamina was amazing. This return flight had occurred after eight days abroad. During that time, Biden and his team had conducted four summits with the G7 countries, the European Union, NATO, and with Russia’s Putin (Whipple, “The Fight Of His Life”). Besides his wife Dr. Jill, Reed is one fellow who certainly can vouch for Biden’s physical and emotional strength.

Many analysts attribute some of Pres. Biden’s loftier phrases in speeches to Mr. Reed (, Rogers, 2/06/23). Instant polling of those listening to Biden’s SOTU speech showed a strongly positive reaction ( A president’s advisers are absolutely crucial to his success or failure. In selecting and listening to Mr. Reed, Biden has shown excellent judgment. Biden and Reed, so far, have shown that government works for the American people. “Let’s finish the job.”

bottom of page