When President Joe Biden discusses the state of the US economy during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, he will focus on a new plan to lower costs for American families and his administration’s efforts in the labor market’s recovery, senior administration officials told reporters on a call previewing the remarks.
While he’ll tout economic gains over the past year, Biden will underscore there is “more work” to do toward lowering costs – a reflection that despite a strong recovery, many Americans are still pessimistic about the economy.
The President will discuss price increases impacting Americans, laying out a four-point plan to lower costs for families that will focus on “making more things in America” and strengthening the supply chain; reducing costs of everyday expenses and reducing the deficit; “promoting fair competition” and “eliminating barriers to good-paying jobs,” according to a fact sheet from the administration.
“He’s going to talk about lowering prescription drug costs, lowering health care premiums, lowering families’ utility bills, lowering the cost families pay to care for their children and parents,” one official said on the call.
Biden is expected to announce two new specific initiatives in a pair of disparate industries: the ocean shipping sector and nursing homes.
He’ll use the shipping example to illustrate corporate consolidation the administration says is driving up prices; three conglomerates now control 80% of global container ship capacity. Biden is launching a new initiative between the Federal Maritime Commission and the Justice Department to promote greater competition. He’ll also highlight the toll Covid-19 has taken on nursing homes and announce new steps to improve conditions in those facilities, including plans to establish a new minimum staffing ratio and expand penalties for certain homes.
“He’ll talk about the progress that we’ve made in the last year in face of deep challenges and he’ll talk about his optimism for the future. … And he’ll remind the country that our best days lie ahead,” an official on the call said.
The President will “make clear that there’s more work to do,” but will also “underscore that during his first year in office, in large part thanks to the American Rescue Plan, entrepreneurship and business investment has rebounded, the economy achieved its fastest job growth in American history, the fastest economic growth in nearly 40 years and a faster recovery than every other advanced economy in the G7.”
The President is also expected to announce specific goals for implementation of his landmark bipartisan infrastructure law, which Congress passed last year.
“The President will make clear that he believes one of the best ways to lower costs over the long run is to increase the productive capacity of our economy. Put simply, that means: make more things in America with more American workers contributing and earning a good living,” one official on the call said, later adding that “the President will also call on Congress to send him bipartisan competitiveness legislation.”
Biden will also tout the labor market’s recovery, specifically highlighting how the American Rescue Plan played a role “in positioning employers to hire and workers to rejoin the labor force and find higher quality jobs.”
When it comes to the President’s signature social spending and climate legislation, which is stalled in Congress, an official said to expect Biden will call on Congress to deliver him “legislation that addresses those core challenges for families right now.”
Still, the official wouldn’t say if Biden would explicitly call for passage of the Build Back Better plan by name.
“It’s not about the name of the bill. It’s about the ideas. It’s about lowering costs for families,” the official said.
This story has been updated with additional information.