Mar 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden's "four buckets" State of the Union

President Biden is seen speaking on Monday.
Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden will touch on "four buckets" of policy — world affairs, domestic economy, COVID-19 and America's future — as he strikes an optimistic tone during his State of the Union speech Tuesday evening, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Biden's first State of the Union will lay out his blueprint for the remainder of his presidency before this fall's pivotal midterms, emphasizing what his administration has accomplished and what can still get done before November.

What we're hearing: White House aides laid out the "four buckets" to House Democrats on a caucus call Tuesday morning, according to a congressional aide on the call:

  • World Stage: Emphasizing "democracy will prevail" amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
  • Economic vision: Lowering costs for working families, boosting U.S. manufacturing, creating jobs, lowering costs and encouraging competition — all while emphasizing the role the bipartisan infrastructure bill has played.
  • COVID-19: Stressing the U.S. is "in a new moment" of the pandemic, that it has the tools to contain the virus, touting vaccine statistics and declaring the U.S. is "turning the corner."
  • The future of America: Looking at Ketanji Brown Jackson, his nominee for the Supreme Court, and solving immigration and climate change, as well as encouraging "commitment to each other and core American values."

The bottom line: The tagline for the speech is "building a better America," and the message is optimism, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said.

  • Biden will touch on legislation that could still pass with bipartisan support and "make a pitch for working together and ending extreme partisanship."
  • He'll also discuss his upbringing, leaning into his hardscrabble "Scranton Joe" persona.
  • The speech is targeted towards "speaking directly to people at their kitchen tables about core American values," Axios was told.

Biden also will tout the legislation he's already gotten passed, including the bipartisan infrastructure bill and American Rescue Plan Act.

  • "Repetition works," Cedric Richmond, the director of the White House's Office of Public Engagement, told members, according to the aide.
  • This all crescendos to a focus on Democrats keeping Congress in November: They can’t govern if they don't win.
  • "All the ideas you have are great," Richmond said. "But great bills go nowhere if we don’t win the House."

Editor's note: Updates with additional details and specific attribution to speakers.

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