President Joe Biden will use his State of the Union address tonight to highlight the economic progress he has made in the past two years, including unemployment reaching a 53-year low.
But he will also acknowledge that there is still work to be done. Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, said the president plans to emphasize his bottom-up approach to the economic recovery.
“We need to make sure that we don’t fall back into a prepandemic equilibrium of low growth, low wage increases, increased inequality,” Deese told reporters in a briefing on Monday.
Expect Biden to urge Democrats and Republicans to work together on many of the issues he raises.
The president is expected to call for a quadrupling of the tax on corporate stock buybacks. His Inflation Reduction Act last year imposed a 1% tax on buybacks, but companies continue to announce large repurchase programs.
In particular, Biden has been pressing the oil industry to pump more oil and lower the price of gasoline, rather than return billions of dollars to shareholders. He has criticized
‘s recent announcement that it would buy back $75 billion worth of shares.
Biden will also propose a 20% minimum tax on billionaires, taking action on his frequently expressed view that the very richest Americans aren’t paying their “fair share” in taxes.
Here are five issues to watch for:
The White House says the economy has created 12 million jobs, including 800,000 manufacturing positions, under Biden—more than under any other president. Unemployment is at record lows for Black and Hispanic workers and disabled workers, while hourly wages are on the rise.
New laws to invest billions in U.S.-based manufacturing, infrastructure, and clean energy will bring more economic opportunity across the country.
But Biden also has to go out and sell that message. “We have a lot of work to do to actually implement and demonstrate that that kind of investment can unlock economic opportunity,” Deese said on Monday.
Prices for gasoline and some other household items have fallen in the past year, but Americans are still feeling the effects of inflation on their pocketbooks. An ABC News/Washington Post poll found 16% of Americans feel better off financially under Biden, while 42% said they were in the same shape, and 41% said they were in worse financial shape.
Biden will preview a budget he plans to send to Congress on March 9, the White House said in a briefing, including proposals to lower the cost of child care, housing, and healthcare.
The president will also point to the drop in core inflation in the second half of 2022 as evidence his policies are beginning to kick in. The price of a gallon of gasoline has fallen by $1.50.
“People should feel optimism that because of what we have seen and because of the progress that we’ve made, that we know how to keep making progress going forward,” Deese said.
Biden is expected to stick to his message that he won’t negotiate on raising the nation’s debt limit, which it hit at $31.4 trillion in January. Congress has until early June to raise the cap, or the U.S. risks default.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and fellow Republicans have insisted on tying spending cuts to raising the limit, arguing the U.S. can’t continue to spend without any end in sight. On Monday, McCarthy urged Biden and Democrats to work with them.
“Mr. President, it’s time to get to work,” McCarthy said.
Biden plans to end the twin national emergencies concerning Covid-19 on May 11. That could also end the benefits many have received while they were in place, including free test kits, vaccines, and treatments.
Republicans have called for an immediate end to the emergencies. Last week, the House and its narrow GOP majority, passed the Pandemic is Over Act. The Office of Management and Budget said withdrawing emergency status so suddenly would “create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the healthcare system.”
Biden’s speech is also an audition of sorts for a reelection bid in 2024. It’s a big stage for making his case to voters: Last year 38 million people tuned into the speech. Biden plans to follow up with a multistate tour to reinforce his main messages.
He faces calls to make way for a younger generation of Democrats, however. And his possible opponent two years from now, former President Donald Trump, isn’t scoring high with voters, either.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll this week found 58% of Democrats or independents who lean left would prefer another candidate to Biden. And on the Republican side, 49% said they prefer someone else to Trump as their nominee.
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