Biden to focus on lowering costs in SOTU amid rising inflation

The White House says President Biden will discuss inflation during Tuesday's State of the Union address while outlining efforts to lower costs for America families.

Biden will announce a new four-piece plan to tackle rising prices, which have taken a toll on his approval ratings. Democrats are worried about losing their congressional majorities in this fall's midterm elections as consumer frustration bites back at the White House.

Senior administration officials in a call with reporters initially wouldn’t say if the president would say the word inflation in the address when asked if he will talk about inflation directly or in more distant language.

“The president will talk about price increases that become entrenched, not that have already become entrenched,” officials said. “I'm not going to go into whether he will say the word inflation or not.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki later on Monday was asked about the comments and said Biden will “absolutely” say inflation.

“First, let me say, the president will absolutely use the word inflation tomorrow and he will talk about inflation in his speech. Of course, that is a huge issue on the minds of Americans,” Psaki said when asked about the hesitancy from officials to say if inflation would be addressed directly.

Officials announced that the four-point plan includes making more goods in America and strengthening supply chains, reducing the cost of everyday expenses and reducing the deficit, promoting fair competition to lower prices, helping small businesses and protecting consumers, and eliminating barriers to well-paying jobs.

Biden will also move language away from the overall Build Back Better package and focus on provisions of it, a strategy that has been a focus since the bill didn’t have the votes to pass the Senate in December. 

“It’s not about to name of the bill. It’s about the ideas. It’s about lowering costs to families, and I think you can expect to hear the president talk about those ideas,” officials said when asked if Biden will say Build Back Better in the address.

The president will call on Congress to send him legislation that reduces the cost of working families and reduces the deficit with major elements of Build Back Better, including tackling prescription drug costs, health care premiums, child care and pre-K costs, and energy costs.

“We can do both. We can lower costs for families. We can lower the deficit at the same time,” officials said. “The reconciliation bill that is right now on the table would reduce the deficit. The ideas that he has put forward can be used to achieve both, and he’s calling on Congress to send him a piece of legislation that would do both.”

In outlining his economic plan in the address, Biden is expected to describe what he calls the manufacturing comeback, tout companies that are opening new U.S. factories and call on Congress to send him bipartisan competitiveness legislation.

He will mention specific goals for the bipartisan infrastructure law, including that states, territories, tribes and local governments will start to improve 65,000 miles of roads and 1,500 bridges with federal funding. 

Additionally, the Federal Aviation Administration will invest in more than 600 airport infrastructure projects, communities will invest in an about 15,000 new buses, ferries and subway cars over the next year, and the Environmental Protection Agency will work with governments to fund more than 400 new water projects, including replacing lead service lines.

He will discuss actions aimed to stop the trend of corporate consolidation and announce new steps to lower consumer prices in ocean shipping and cracking down on unsafe nursing homes.

That includes a deal between the Department of Justice and the Federal Maritime Commission to make sure that large ocean freight companies cannot take advantage of U.S. businesses and consumers and Department of Health and Human Services reforms to hold nursing homes accountable for the care they provide and increase transparency.

The president also will call on Congress to send him pro-worker bills, including the Protecting the Right to Organize Act and a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Additionally, he will call on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, aimed at ending pay discrimination, and call on Congress to pass comprehensive paid family and medical leave legislation. 

Biden is expected to speak about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions the U.S. and allies have imposed on Moscow.

“Of course, he is also going to outline the efforts that we’re taking to rally the world to stand up for democracy and against Russian aggression, and he’ll go into detail on that as well,” officials said.

Officials added that the economy will be a significant portion of the speech “in addition to the portion on the recent events in Ukraine.”

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