Editorial: Biden’s right, we ‘need to finish the job’; however, doubt remains if he’s the one to do it & if he even can.

Joseph Gonzalez, Staff Writer

President Joe Biden delivered his State of the Union Address last Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, to the newly elected 118th Congress – a now divided chamber with a Democrat-retained Senate and GOP-captured House.

In a 73-minute speech, Biden highlighted several legislative accomplishments of his administration, such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. He reiterated several common “Biden themes” as well: national unity, bipartisanship and defending democracy.

But in other instances, Biden provided a welcome rhetorical departure from the themes Democrats have generally championed. Biden was focused on the raising of the debt ceiling, a recent political fight that determines future federal funding which the GOP has now threatened to not raise – possibly causing the defaulting of the federal government. In a surprising move from a former senator who tried to cut Medicare and Social Security, Biden promised to veto any budget that would defund these programs. He also decried the efforts of Big Pharma in their efforts to raise the prices of prescription drugs. However, in a shocking move, Biden endorsed the transformative labor law reform package, the PRO Act, championed unionized blue-collar workers, and declared, “I’m so sick and tired of companies breaking the law by preventing workers from organizing.”  

While these sentiments would be seen as expected rhetoric from politicians such as Senator Bernard Sanders or Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it’s a welcome shock to hear uttered from the president. Will Biden finally depart from the neoliberal ideology that has imprisoned the Democratic party? Well, it’s complicated.

Biden is no progressive, let alone socialist, hero – let’s be clear. For much, if not all, of his political career, he has been a conservative-to-moderate Democrat. “Bidenism” has been marked for its giveaways to corporate America. In the ‘90s, Biden led efforts to cut Medicare and Social Security. In the early 2000s, he spearheaded a bill to ensure student debt followed holders even after bankruptcy. For what it’s worth, Biden has never truly been a working-class revolutionary – he’s often been a hurdle, if not an out-right enemy. 

However, people change – politicians especially. If Biden wants to pass needed reforms we should support him. We do, in fact, need to “get the job done!” Healthcare prices are through the roof, workers have limited power in their workplace and abortion rights have been repealed, so despite the progress of the Biden administration there is obviously work to be done. Biden’s supposed change of heart is a welcomed one. Yet, even if he now seems interested in change, it may be too late.

Biden had his chance… two years ago. Now, with a divided Congress it’s near-impossible to implement the “New Bidenism” that would actually finish the job. The GOP is dead-set on halting the legislative victories of a Biden administration. Many conservative Democrats, such as Senator Joe Manchin and Representative Henry Cuellar are uninterested in supporting true Democratic policies. Even Democrat-turned-independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema won’t play ball, refusing to eliminate the filibuster which makes passing bills through the Senate nearly impossible. 

Biden hasn’t whipped his own party into shape with his vision; there’s no chance he could now get the GOP on board. His support for even his own policies is up in the air, as seen with the impartial elimination of student debt.

While Biden is now positioning himself for re-election with populist themes, his political history, current policies and now divided government leave him too little, too late. We need to finish the job of putting everyday Americans first ahead of corporations and politicians, but Biden isn’t up to the task. So, while I am ecstatic about the new rhetoric of Biden, I doubt he’ll be the one to “finish the job.”