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Biden delivers State of the Union address to divided Congress amid sour public mood

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-02-08 10:53

US President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber at the US Capitol in Washington, US, Feb 7, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - US President Joe Biden delivered his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night amid a sour public mood.

This is Biden's second State of the Union speech since he took office in January 2021 and the first of its kind before a divided Congress with Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives after last year's midterm elections and Democrats still running the Senate this term.

The primetime remarks came a week after a Gallup poll showed that most Americans remain downbeat on the way things are going in the United States, with only 23 percent saying that they are satisfied while more than three-quarters are dissatisfied.

Meanwhile, Biden's overall job performance rating continues to be underwater. According to US poll tracker FiveThirtyEight, the Democrat's approval rating stood at 43.2 percent as of Tuesday, while disapproval of the job he's doing stood at 52.3 percent. More Americans are holding a negative view of his handling of the country's economy.

Biden, nevertheless, devoted a swath of his speech on Tuesday to the economy, touting indicators like low unemployment and slowing inflation rates. However, inflation in the United States is still at a high level rarely seen in past history and many economists remain concerned that the US economy will fall into a recession later this year.

Biden also used the speech to call upon Congress to raise the debt ceiling. The federal government reached its borrowing limit last month and is trying to avoid going over the 31.4 trillion-US dollar debt ceiling and defaulting on its current obligations.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who sat behind Biden during his speech to a joint session of Congress alongside US Vice President Kamala Harris, said on Monday that "defaulting on our debt is not an option" but "a responsible debt limit increase that begins to eliminate wasteful Washington spending and puts us on a path towards a balanced budget is not only the right place to start."

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has recently warned that a US default "would cause significant damage" to the global economy.

"It will be very damaging for US consumers if the US defaults, that would push interest rates up," Georgieva told CBS News during an interview. "And if people don't like inflation today, they're not going to like at all what may happen tomorrow."

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