Feb 28, 2022 - Politics & Policy

How Biden will address inflation in State of the Union

President Biden addresses Congress
President Biden adresses Congress last year. Photo by Melina Mara/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden will offer an optimistic message on the economy during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, citing the rapid economic recovery over his first year in office, White House officials told reporters.

  • But when it comes to the high inflation dragging down Americans' confidence and Biden's approval ratings, the president will offer more of a re-framing of its agenda than new ideas.

Why it matters: The Biden team doesn't have any magic bullets that could bring inflation down rapidly. Instead, it will seek to persuade Americans its policies will help lesson the pain of inflation and bring it down over time.

State of play: The officials said the president will describe a four-point plan to lower costs facing American families. To careful followers of the president's agenda, however, the details will sound familiar.

  • Point 1, for example, is to seek to make more in America, strenghten supply chains, and move goods faster and cheaper.
  • More concretely, that means implementing the bipartisan infrastructure bill enacted last year to improve transportation, and calling for passage of legislation to increase investment in scientific research, semiconductor manufacturing and more.

Similarly, Point 2 of the Biden inflation agenda is to reduce everyday costs confronting Americans. The details include, in effect, rebranding provisions of the moribund Building Back Better legislation.

  • The president will call on Congress to pass legislation reducing prescription drug, health care, child care and energy costs, while reducing the budget deficit.
  • That amounts to framing some key BBB provisions as tools to help people grapple with high prices — and pitching them in a way the Biden team hopes will resonate with the public and holdout Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

The other points during Tuesday's discussion of inflation will be promoting fair competition, and eliminating barriers to good paying jobs, the officials said.

The bottom line: White House economic advisers believe inflation will come down gradually, as supply disruptions ease and the Federal Reserve's monetary tightening campaign gets underway.

  • That drawn-out process isn't the kind of thing that wins votes, or standing ovations during a State of the Union address.
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