The State of the Union Address by the President of the United States, Joe Biden, comes at a very delicate moment on a domestic and international level. The US president will speak in front of Congress meeting at 21 local time (28 o'clock tomorrow in Italy), three days after the Pentagon shot down the Chinese spy balloon that had been flying over federal airspace since January XNUMX. A development that not only further exacerbates tensions between Washington and Beijing, forcing the Secretary of State, Antony blinken, to cancel the trip to China scheduled for early February, but creates new headaches for an administration already entangled in a standoff with Republicans in Congress over the federal debt ceiling, reached last month. The decision to wait for the balloon to reach the Atlantic Ocean has already led to strong criticism from Republicans in the House of Representatives, with the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, who demanded “answers” on Saturday. “I will hold the government accountable for this embarrassing display of weakness,” she said. Even the chairmen of the internal security commission and the new commission on competition with China, Mark Green e Mike Gallagher, have announced new investigations against the administration.
Returning from his residence in Camp David, Maryland, where he retired over the weekend to put the finishing touches on his speech, Biden told reporters yesterday that he ordered the shooting down of the spy balloon on Wednesday, immediately after being informed. However, it was later decided to wait for the aircraft (which arrived in Montana from Canada, to then cross the country flying east) to reach the ocean to guarantee the safety of the population against any falling debris. “We did the right thing, and the Chinese government understands our position: It's not about escalating or easing tensions,” Biden told reporters. Furthermore, the president will have to speak to Congress without an agreement being reached on raising the federal debt ceiling. The risk of a default, which in any case represents a prospect against which the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives has also warned, Kevin McCarthy, could overshadow the government's performance on the economic front.
In fact, Biden will arrive in Congress on the strength of a series of successes in the economic field. Data released last Friday by the Labor Department signaled an unemployment rate of 3,4 percent, with the creation of 517 new jobs in January alone. This is a figure not seen since 1953, which is accompanied by an increase in the average hourly wage of 0,3 per cent. Progress, albeit slower, was also recorded on the inflation front, thanks to the aggressive policy pursued by the Federal Reserve, which only five days ago announced a new increase in interest rates of 0,25%. In December, the inflation rate stood at 6,5 percent, after six consecutive months of decline: a figure that is still far from the two percent desired by the Fed, but still the lowest since October 2021.
The lack of progress in the negotiations on the federal debt, however, risks undermining the impact of the results obtained by the government. In a speech delivered yesterday, McCarthy reiterated that he is ready for a compromise, but that an increase in the ceiling from 31.400 trillion will not be approved until the Biden administration has agreed to cut public spending. Even the CEO of Bank of America, Mark Moynihan, said the lender was "preparing for a possible default," just hours after the Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, live on the "Abc" broadcaster, said that the US economy "is strong and resilient: there is no recession when 500 jobs are created".
The impact of a divided Congress, further aggravated by the discovery of classified documents last November in Biden's private residence in Wilmington, Delaware, is also making itself felt on the electoral side, undermining in a certain way the positive result obtained by the Democrats in the midterm elections last November. A poll published yesterday by the "Washington Post" and "Abc News" revealed that 62 percent of US citizens believe that Biden has not achieved great results in the first two years of his mandate. Only 36 percent said the administration has achieved "great" or "good" results, while a majority believe there has been no progress on key issues such as infrastructure and jobs.
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