President Biden used the first Oval Office speech of his presidency to declare victory after a bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling was passed. both cameras Congress, preventing debt defaults and economic chaos.
In a 13-minute speech, the president praised the White House negotiators and thanked Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) for coming to an agreement days before the Treasury set to run out of money to pay the country’s bills.
Some Democrats were concerned that the president had been too quiet during weeks of negotiations, allowing McCarthy to gain media attention. But Friday’s prime-time speech from behind the Resolute Desk allowed him to speak directly to the American people, not in a looming crisis, but, as he told the country, to “report a crisis averted.”
“It was important to reach an agreement, and this is very good news for the American people. Nobody got everything they wanted, but the American people got what they needed,” Biden said. “We averted an economic crisis – an economic collapse.”
The president expects to sign the debt ceiling compromise bill on Saturday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Friday.
The legislation, which includes spending limits and some changes to energy permits and social programs, was passed by overwhelming majority in both houses of Congress. Some progressive Democrats who voted against the deal raised concerns about what they described as “hostage-taking” of the debt ceiling, or about the deal making it easier to issue energy permits and making changes to social programs such as SNAP, also known as food coupons. Members of the far-right Freedom Caucus also opposed the bill, arguing that it did not go far enough in cutting government spending.
The President would do well to win. His approval rating is stuck at 40 and has fallen as debt ceiling talks intensify and fears of a catastrophic default mount. He tripped and fell on stage after speaking to the graduates of the US Air Force Academy on Thursday. A White House aide later tweeted to reassure the public that the 80-year-old president was “fine.”
Voters may not be paying close attention to the debt ceiling drama.
“Right now, people are probably moving into summer vacation planning and worrying about issues closer to home…,” Rose Kapolchinski, a West Coast political consultant, told The Times. “The debt limit is very important for America and the economy. But it’s pretty unclear.”
But voters — especially Democrats and independents who Biden needs for re-election — routinely tell pollsters they want their leaders to compromise. According to February PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll. 70% of Americans believe it’s more important to compromise on solutions than to stand on principle in the face of an impasse. The rate was highest among Democrats and Independents, who said they supported the compromise at 83% and 69%, respectively.
“Most voters want the leaders of both parties to work together,” Kapolchinski said. “They also want leaders to stand up for what they believe in. Sometimes these two things contradict each other. But in this case, Biden felt like he had struck a deal that did both.”
Potential Republican rivals for Biden have criticized the deal. Former President Trump said he would have defaulted before admitting what the Republicans did; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the agreement would send the country “leaning toward bankruptcy.” Former Vice President Mike Pence said the deal “uses Washington’s smoke-and-mirror games to bring about small reforms.”
Historically, presidents have used the Oval Office to convey messages of great importance during national crises and tragedies. President George W. Bush addressed the country from his office shortly after the 9/11 attacks. President George W. Bush famously used his inaugural Oval Office speech to convey a message about the dangers of drugs while holding a bag of drugs. what he described as crack cocaine.
President Obama delivered his first Oval Office speech in June 2010 after visiting the site of a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Before Biden’s Friday speech, the last Oval Office speech was on January 1st. January 13, 2021, when Trump condemned the violence in the aftermath of the January events. 6 attack on the US Capitol and called for calm ahead of Biden’s inauguration, an event he neither acknowledged nor attended.