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3.2.22 Advocacy Alert: Takeaways from State of the Union

Josh Veronica

March 2, 2022

Last night, President Joe Biden delivered his State of the Union address. The speech, which outlined his agenda for the upcoming year, is available here. 

Among the top issues: 

  1. Inflation. The President said that addressing soaring costs is his top priority. Biden intimated that businesses’ reliance on foreign supply chains caused inflation, and urged them to move as much of their supply chain as possible within the U.S. He seemed to criticize businesses for their response to inflation, saying, “[o]ne way to fight inflation is to drive down wages and make Americans poorer. I have a better plan to fight inflation. Lower your costs, not your wages.” Biden also laid out a three-point plan for addressing inflation, which included lowering prescription drug costs, combating climate change to reduce energy costs, and cutting the cost of childcare. The BNP understands the inflationary pressures Buffalo Niagara employers are facing and the resulting impact on your operations.  We will continue to push federal leaders to urgently address this situation. 
  2. COVID-19. The President said America is in a “new moment in the fight against COVID-19.” With high vaccination and booster rates, widely available testing, and the advent of an antiviral pill to treat infection, Biden said “we are moving forward safely, back to more normal routines.” His statements reflected a significant position shift in an Administration that has been hesitant to ease pandemic caution. 
  3. Ukraine. The President reiterated his support for Ukraine and highlighted the sanctions imposed on Russia, which drew bipartisan support. As the conflict unfolds, the BNP’s guide on employer considerations can help keep your organization prepared for its global consequences. 
  4. Infrastructure. Biden touted the passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The BNP supported this historic investment. As dollars flow from Washington to Albany, it is essential that state leaders use these historic funds to make once-in-a-generation infrastructure investments. Last month, the BNP told Gov. Hochul that her budget proposal’s Capital Plan investment is a missed opportunity to leverage this historic windfall.  
  5. Taxes. Channeling his campaign trail tax rhetoric, Biden criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and advocated for a more progressive tax structure. Specifically, he proposed a 15% minimum tax for corporations, and a global minimum tax rate to discourage offshoring. The BNP opposes additional taxes on employers that stifle commerce and investment. 
  6. Innovation. Biden indicated his support for the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, promising to sign it if Congress puts it on his desk. The BNP supports this legislation, which would invest heavily in research and innovation and also establish regional technology and manufacturing hubs around the country. If the bill is enacted, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised to use his political clout to locate a tech hub in our region. 
  7. Labor. The President voiced his support for the PRO Act, a bill that would significantly alter the labor negotiation process. He also urged Congress to enact a $15/hour minimum wage.  
  8. Immigration. Without providing detail, Biden urged Congress to pursue comprehensive immigration reform. The BNP supports certain reforms that would ease our workforce problems and equip employers with qualified workers. 
  9. Childcare. Noting that the steep cost of childcare is a barrier to parental participation in the workforce, Biden wants to cap childcare costs at 7% of a middle-class family’s income. This was a key piece of the President’s Build Back Better Act, which is all but dead in Congress. However, Congress may tackle this issue separately without passing the entire BBBA. 
  10. Healthcare. Biden proposed several ideas to reduce healthcare costs, including allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, capping the cost of insulin at $35/month, and raising regulatory standards for nursing homes. 

The BNP remains in frequent communication with our federal delegation. We will continue to make clear to them how federal legislation would impact the Buffalo Niagara economy. Deeper explanation of BNP positions can be found in our 2022 Advocacy Agenda.