A recap of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address | Blogs | Coronavirus Resource Center: Back to Business
On Tuesday evening, President Joe Biden addressed Congress in his first State of the Union address. In an hour-long speech, President Biden covered a variety of topics and urged Congress to pass numerous pieces of legislation. Biden’s agenda was very different from his speech to Congress in April 2021. Urging bipartisanship, Biden pushed an agenda that appealed to Democrats and Republicans alike. A multitude of topics were applauded by both parties, including support for Ukraine, the implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Employment Actand various healthcare and business proposals.
Conflict in Ukraine
To begin the speech, Biden covered the current conflict in Ukraine. To underpin his support for the Ukrainian regime, Biden pointed to the economic sanctions the United States and its allies have imposed on Russian banks and oligarchs. Biden announced that the United States would join the European Union (EU) in closing American airspace to all Russian flights. Biden said he would work to mitigate the potential ramifications economic sanctions may have on the American people, noting that the United States and its allies have worked to release 60 million barrels of oil worldwide and 30 million barrels of the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve. .
Biden then moved on to COVID-19 recovery and his national agenda. Biden highlighted key aspects of the US rescue plan and pushed back against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 2017 of the Trump administration. Biden touted the growing economy and low unemployment, while also saying COVID-19 no longer needs to control Americans’ lives. Later in the speech, Biden rolled out a new program, the “test to treat initiative,” saying those who test positive for COVID at a pharmacy can begin receiving antiviral pills immediately.
Biden pointed to bipartisan enactment Infrastructure Investment and Employment Act, noting various goals his administration has set. Specifically, Biden talked about installing 500,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across the country, replacing lead pipes and increasing broadband access. While talking about infrastructure projects, Biden said he would remain committed to making products in America.
Biden then moved on to competition law. Congress passed the COMPETITION law and the US Innovation and Competition Act, but neither were sent to the president’s office. Biden rebranded the competition law as the “Bipartisan Innovation Act.” Pushing for increased domestic manufacturing, Biden pointed to Intel’s new investment in a $20 billion semiconductor “mega site” in Columbus, Ohio. Biden said the site would include up to eight manufacturing plants and 10,000 new jobs. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger attended.
Continuing the increase in domestic manufacturing, Biden pointed to plans by Ford to invest $11 billion in building electric vehicles and GM to invest $7 billion in building electric vehicles. The two projects are expected to create 15,000 new jobs nationwide. Quoting Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), Biden said “it’s time to bury the ‘Rust Belt’ label.”
Biden has used competition law as a way to fight inflation on the home front. Stating that the pandemic has caused unfavorable conditions that have depressed manufacturing. Biden cited rising auto prices as an example of the need for competition legislation. Biden implored corporate America to “cut your costs, not wages” and to “make more cars and semiconductors in America.”
Health, energy and taxes
Biden then pivoted to his health care agenda. A key aspect of Building back better, he demanded that Medicare negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs. Biden also called for capping the cost of insulin at $35 per month. Biden touted his successes from the US rescue planindicating that it allows families on Affordable Care Act expects to save $2,400 a year on health insurance premiums. Speaking on elder care, Biden said more “Wall Street companies” are engaged in nursing homes. Biden said it would “end on [his] watch” and that Medicare would set the standards for nursing homes.
Biden did not cover his energy agenda in depth, but he did highlight a few key aspects of the Building back better. He called on Congress to pass investment tax credits to cool homes and businesses, and to increase solar and wind investments to move the United States toward cleaner energy.
On tax policy, Biden repeated his campaign promises to raise taxes on wealthy individuals and businesses. He proposed a minimum corporate tax rate of 15% and said he would not raise taxes for individuals earning less than $400,000 a year. Biden called for reducing the national deficit and said the Justice Department would install a chief prosecutor to investigate pandemic relief fraud.
After a discussion of his crime agenda, the Supreme Court nomination of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and voting rights legislation, Biden ended his speech on a bipartisan note. Offering a “unity agenda,” Biden called on Congress to step up the fight against the opioid epidemic, adopt a mental health agenda, provide more support to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and deploy the Cancer Moonshot program. In calling for increased funding for the Cancer Moonshot program, Biden called on Congress to fund ARPA-H, the Agency for Advanced Research Projects for Health. Biden ended his speech by reporting that the state of the union was strong and called on Congress to pass his agenda. A full transcript of the speech is available here.
Now that Congress has its marching orders, March is shaping up to be a busy month in Washington. To stay up to date with what’s happening next, you can check out Foley’s monthly newsletter here.