Fact-Checking Biden’s First State of the Union Address

Fact-Checking Biden’s First State of the Union Address

In his first official State of the Union speech,  President Joe Biden on Tuesday night addressed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, rising inflation at home, an ongoing border crisis, plummeting approval numbers and a fading pandemic. 

Biden, who also spoke to a joint session of Congress last April, made numerous assertions in his State of the Union address. 

Here’s a fact check of some of the president’s assertions, to  be expanded throughout the evening.

We Were Ready’ for Putin’s Invasion

Biden addressed the biggest issue in international politics—Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unfolding invasion of Ukraine, and the response from the United States and its allies. 

“Throughout our history we’ve learned this lesson—when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos,” Biden said. “They keep moving. And the costs and threats to America and the world keep rising.”

He noted that the United States is a member of the 30-nation NATO military alliance. 

“It matters. American diplomacy matters,” Biden said. “Putin’s war was premeditated and unprovoked. He rejected efforts at diplomacy. He thought the West and NATO wouldn’t respond. And, he thought he could divide us here at home. Putin was wrong. We were ready.”

How ready the Biden administration and allies were, however, is open for debate. 

Russian troops have massed on the Ukrainian border since November. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Biden to impose sanctions on Russia before an invasion could occur, as a preventive measure. 

The Biden administration and European allies imposed sanctions on Russian financing a day after Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. However, several Republicans and Democrats agreed at the time that sanctions should be more severe. 

Also, upon announcing the sanctions package, Biden said: “The sanctions we’ve imposed exceed SWIFT. The sanctions we imposed exceed anything that has ever been done.” 

??Days later, however, European countries agreed to block Russia from SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, the primary international banking system. This move potentially could cut Russia out of global finance.

Under the Trump administration’s policies, the United States became a net exporter of oil starting in 2018, a development that boosted the nation’s energy independence.

The Biden administration increased green energy projects at the expense of fossil fuels and nuclear energy and added regulatory burdens on the oil and natural gas industry. By executive order, Biden shut down the Keystone XL pipeline project to move oil from Canada to the U.S. and he effectively greenlighted financing of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to carry natural gas to Germany. 

Upon Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden and Germany  reversed course on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

During his remarks Tuesday night, Biden said, “Tonight, I can announce that the United States has worked with 30 other countries to release 60 million barrels of oil from reserves around the world.” 

However, half that amount, 30 million barrels, will come from the U.S.

Lower Your Costs and Lower the Deficit’

Biden pitched a plan that he said would cut inflation and create jobs. 

“One way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer. I have a better plan to fight inflation,” Biden said, adding:

Lower your costs, not your wages. Make more cars and semiconductors in America. More infrastructure and innovation in America. More goods moving faster and cheaper in America. More jobs where you can earn a good living in America. And instead of relying on foreign supply chains—let’s make it in America.

Biden went on to say: “My plan to fight inflation will lower your costs and lower the deficit.”

It’s not known what the actual cost estimate for Biden’s proposals will be. His past promises don’t have a strong record. 

The president tried to sell the failed Build Back Better legislation last year as not adding to the national debt or the budget deficit. 

However, the Congressional Budget Office determined that Democrats’ spending bill would increase the deficit by $3 trillion from 2022 to 2031. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, which passed after with Republican support, would add $256 billion to the  deficit, according to the CBO.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.