Last month, on February 7, 2023, President Joe Biden gave his second State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. His address largely centered on his accomplishments in his first two years in office, particularly bipartisan pieces of legislation such as the infrastructure package that was signed into law in November of 2021, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Electoral Count Reform Act and the Respect for Marriage Act. He also highlighted the low unemployment rate, which currently stands at 3.4 percent. It was an address that sought to deliver the message that government can work in competent hands and to show that under his watch, Democrats and Republicans have been able to come together when it’s counted — a wink to what is sure to be a reelection bid announcement from Biden soon.
Although Biden running for reelection has always been the most likely scenario heading into 2024, discourse about his age has been a major talking point ever since he was sworn in. He is already the oldest president to ever assume the presidency, having been elected at 78 years old. Concerns about his age in combination with favorability ratings that aren’t great have given Democrats pause. However, Democrats’ unexpectedly strong showing in the midterms last November, along with a string of legislative wins for Biden, has rejuvenated his prospects. Furthermore, if Biden weren’t to run, it is unclear who would pick up the torch and be a formidable foe against the Republicans’ 2024 candidate. At this point in time, former president Donald Trump and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley are the only two candidates on the Republican side to throw their hats in the ring, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis largely expected to announce his candidacy.
In addition to Biden touting his bipartisan accomplishments in the address, he also highlighted proposals that have majority support among Americans that he wanted Congress to work together on, such as an assault weapons ban and higher taxes on wealthy companies.
Should there be a redux of 2020 with Biden facing off yet again against Trump, he would surely bank on a similar strategy that worked the first time. While there aren’t many voters within the Democratic party that are truly excited about Biden, sometimes a strong distaste of the alternative is just as much of a motivation to get out and vote as strong support for a given candidate is. Biden will surely lean into that while propping up his solid number of legislative accomplishments.
For now, the battle over the debt ceiling is the most important challenge on the president’s and Congress’s plates. Congress has until roughly early June to raise the debt ceiling, and should they fail to do so, the shocks through the U.S. economy would be huge. The U.S.’s interest payments would skyrocket, and the government would have to immediately pull back on certain areas of spending: Salaries for federal employees, Social Security checks, and U.S. Treasury Bonds would all potentially be impacted. Congressional Republicans will likely get Biden to concede to cut back on federal spending in order for the ceiling to be lifted.