Five key economic points in Biden’s 2023 State of the Union address to Congress

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  • Biden has been upbeat about his economic policies after recent reports showed near-record low unemployment and strong job growth, but his speech showed he has broader ambitions to reshape the economy.
  • He called for curbing anti-competitive practices and raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, in addition to increasing workers’ rights.
  • Ultimately in a divided Congress, it will be difficult for Biden to implement most of his plans in the way he might hope.

President Joe Biden delivered his second State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night, marking the halfway point in his term. It was an opportunity for him to highlight the achievements of his administration so far, as well as set the tone for what is expected to go into the next two, possibly more years.

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Biden has been upbeat on his economic policies, after recent reports showed near-record low unemployment and strong job growth, but his speech displayed his sweeping ambitions to reshape the economy, which is “bottom-up.” And grows from “out the middle”, not from the top. top down.”

Here’s the economic news you missed:

Billionaire tax refund?

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Biden renewed his call to tax billionaires and corporate stock buybacks to reduce the federal deficit.

“The tax system is not fair; it is not fair,” Biden said. “The idea that in 2020, America’s 55 largest corporations, in the Fortune 500, made $40 billion in profits and paid $0 in federal taxes? $0? Guys, that’s not fair at all.”

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The idea was popularized in the 2020 campaign by progressives such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Biden has pledged not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 a year.

Biden was ridiculed by Democrats, saying, “Now because of the law I signed, billion dollar companies have to pay a minimum of 15%, God love them.” “15%! That’s less than a nurse gets paid!”

Biden had earlier proposed a 20% tax on billionaires in March last year as part of his federal budget. In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Biden called on Congress to “get the job done.” The proposal did not gain much traction at the time and is unlikely to go anywhere in the Republican-controlled House.

The war on ‘junk fees’

Biden continues his crusade against unnecessary “junk fees” from banks, airlines, cable companies and other industries, adding Surprising cost for consumer bills.

“Look, junk fees don’t matter to the very wealthy, but they do matter to most people in households like the ones I grew up in,” Biden said. “They add up to hundreds of dollars a month. They make it harder for you to pay your bills.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed a new rule last week to ban exorbitant credit card late fees. Congress banned the exorbitant fees in 2009, but the Federal Reserve Board of Governors issued actions to circumvent the law.

In his speech, Biden called on Congress to pass the Junk Fee Prevention Act, which would put further restrictions on exorbitant fees on travel and event tickets.

“The airlines can’t treat your child like a piece of luggage. Americans are tired of it. They’re tired of being played for suckers.”

Antitrust takes center stage

In addition to junk fees, Biden’s administration is set to address antitrust concerns, a point the president emphasized in his State of the Union address. Biden issued an executive order in October allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter, making them much cheaper for the average consumer.

“Look, capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism, it’s extortion,” Biden said Tuesday night.

The White House used the line in November when Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation botched the rollout of tickets for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, prompting an antitrust investigation. The company was later grilled by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for antitrust practices.

“Let’s get the job done,” Biden said, passing bipartisan legislation to strengthen antitrust enforcement to prevent large online platforms from giving their products an unfair advantage.

labor and wages

The President outlined several worker-first initiatives as part of his broader effort to build “the economy”. [that] Works for everyone, so we can take pride in what we do.”

He reprimanded companies that force workers to engage in non-competitive agreements, citing an executive order signed last month that encourages the Federal Trade Commission to ban or limit non-competitive agreements. signs on. Biden said 30 million Americans in positions ranging from executives to fast-food cashiers have had to sign non-compete agreements.

In addition, Biden called on Congress to pass the Protecting Right to Organize Act, which restores workers’ rights to unionize without retaliation.

“I’m bound to get a reaction from my friends on the left, but not on the right,” Biden said, referring to Republicans. “I am so sick and tired of companies breaking the law by preventing workers from organizing. Pass the PRO Act!”

Biden called for workers to have access to sick days, paid family leave and affordable child care.

expanding insulin price range

Drug prices were again at the top for Biden. The president called for the $35 price cap on insulin passed in the Inflation Reduction Act for Medicare to be broadened to cover privately insured Americans in need.

“One in 10 Americans had diabetes, many people in the audience in this room do,” Biden said. “And millions of people every day need insulin to control their diabetes so that they can actually live.”

Biden blasted drug companies for raising the price of insulin from about $10 a bottle to hundreds of dollars a month, “making record profits,” away from the drug. He applauded Congress’s measure to reduce costs for Medicare recipients, but stressed the need to expand it.

“There are millions of other Americans who are not on Medicare, including 200,000 young people with type 1 diabetes who need this insulin to survive,” Biden said. “Let’s get the job done this time. Let’s cap the price of insulin at $35 for everyone.”

What does this mean?

Many of the ideas proposed by Biden, such as the billionaire tax and the PRO Act, are likely to be a hard sell and dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled House.

The White House and House Republicans are already at an impasse over whether Congress will raise the debt ceiling, a routine measure that has been carried out with no strings attached for decades. House Republicans are threatening to allow the country to default on its debt obligations if Biden does not agree to a spending cut they believe should be handled separately. A month into the new Congress, the situation is a glimpse of how other negotiations will play out.

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