The Chinese balloon dominates Vice President Biden’s State of the Union address.

Tuesday’s State of the Union address by Joe Biden to Congress will be significant in his presidency.

The address offers a high-profile platform from which he can make his case to the American people, the media, and important players within the Democratic Party. It appears likely that he will launch a run for re-election next year.

But before he does, the president will face immense pressure to fix the problem that has dogged his administration since Friday. The American public has been riveted by the Chinese spy balloon and the US response to it, and Republicans have criticized the Biden administration harshly as a result.

Mr. Biden will be expected to explain why he chose to shoot the vessel down after it had crossed the US, given that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is considering voting against the president’s handling of the balloon incursion – on the day of the speech, no less – and that aggressive hearings into the matter are already scheduled.

And how Congress responds will be watched closely.

While Mr. Biden and his advisers may have a plan in place for how they want to structure his reelection campaign, even the best-laid plans might be derailed by a foreign crisis with China, which could have serious economic and military repercussions.

What Biden actually wants to discuss
His address is anticipated to focus heavily on the achievements he made during the first two years of his presidency, when his party was in control of both chambers of Congress and was able to pass a wide range of important laws.

Among them were $1 trillion in climate and healthcare legislation as well as a $1.9 trillion (£1.5 trillion) coronavirus relief package that included a program that cut the percentage of US children living in poverty in half. He will certainly highlight the successful, bipartisan legislation passed on issues like infrastructure funding, technological investment, and gun control.

The president will argue that the economy is growing under his leadership by highlighting the most recent data on job growth, inflation, and energy prices, which have been declining from high levels last seen in the early 1980s.

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After congratulating himself, Mr. Biden will need to look ahead and provide his vision for the remaining months of his first term as well as what he would bring to the table if he decided to run for reelection for a second term of four years.

According to conventional opinion, winning political campaigns focus on the future rather than the past.

In light of the recent string of horrific shootings, Mr. Biden might discuss new gun control laws, such as the kind of assault weapon ban he worked to pass as a senator in the 1990s. He might also advocate for a federal statute defending the right to an abortion, as this was a topic that helped Democratic voters turn out for the midterm elections last year.

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Pre-kindergarten education and government-funded childcare are two other long-desired but unaddressed elements of the Democratic agenda. And in light of Tyre Nichols’ passing at the hands of Memphis police, he might support new initiatives to pass federal policing reform.

Mr. Biden could also address issues that were seen as being weak during his administration, such as the rise in crime in US cities, the increase in unauthorized immigrants entering the country from Mexico, and an effort to forgive some student loan debt that has been the subject of numerous lawsuits.

While US-China relations will undoubtedly dominate any foreign policy discussion in Mr. Biden’s speech, he will also undoubtedly talk about the necessity of continuing American military assistance to Ukraine and the contribution that the tens of billions of dollars in aid that have already been approved have made to halting the Russian invasion.

The fact that Washington is split
Whatever Biden suggests in relation to any of these topics will run smack against the realities of the House of Representatives being under Republican control. Even while the conservative majority in that chamber is small, it is sufficient to guarantee that none of Vice President Biden’s proposals will be approved without the knowledge or consent of the Republican Party.

Bipartisan agreement is always a possibility, and Mr. Biden will make every effort to position himself as a voice of reason and cooperation, but the upcoming year is more likely to be dominated by bitter battles over averting a US national debt default this summer and passing legislation that will fund the US government in the fall.

Mr. Biden might attempt to gain the upper hand in negotiations that have just begun by using his speech on Tuesday night.

The president’s speech might serve as a guide for how he will approach these contentious exchanges with Republicans and deal with the escalating US-China gap. The landscape on which he would choose to base his reelection campaign will likewise become clearer, as will the concerns to prioritize and the successes to highlight most strongly.

The style of Vice President Biden’s speech will be almost as significant as the content, even though the delivery of a State of the Union address is always closely scrutinized.

Already the oldest US president in history, the politician is 80 years old. His second term would end when he turned 86 if he were to be elected again. In the coming days, doubts about Mr. Biden’s competency will be impossible to dismiss, and important speeches like these present a chance to refute detractors or provide them with more justification.

Although polls conducted 21 months after an election are of little relevance, the most recent data indicates that if Mr. Biden runs, he will face a fiercely competitive race, with Republicans like his former rival Donald Trump well-positioned to unseat him. Although his overall favorability has increased, it is still net-negative. According to polling, Democrats would be less fired up by a Biden re-election campaign and more resigned to it.

Following his speech, the president will visit Wisconsin and Florida, both of which are historically important states in presidential elections and where two potential Republican rivals reside. Despite the fact that 21 months may seem like a long time and that the timing of an official campaign launch has not even been suggested, Mr. Biden’s address on Tuesday night is a significant turning point on his path to reelection.

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