By - Tim Rosado
As with every other State of the Union (SOTU) address, this year’s address is certain to include a bevy of new, and perhaps restated prior, policies and promises of President Biden.
Before we hear those, here is a look back at last year’s SOTU policy statements, requests, and promises, including the outcomes.
We will start fixing over 65,000 miles of highway and 1,500 bridges in disrepair.
In November, the Administration highlighted that, among other things, 2,800 bridge repair and replacement projects have so far been launched around the country and $120 billion in funding had been distributed to states and localities for roads and bridges.
My top priority is getting prices under control…lower your costs and lower the deficit.
Gasoline prices are down about 30% from peak levels of June 2022, and the pace of price increases have been declining over the last several months. That being the case, consumer prices across the economy are still significantly elevated. By the end of December, the Consumer Price Index was still running at a pace of 6.5% for 2022. Food alone was running at a 10.4% rate.
The Federal budget deficit was cut nearly in half over 20211, to $1.4 trillion from $2.6 trillion. While a dramatic reduction, the deficit is still very high and critics argue that deficit spending is still a significant contributing factor to current inflation.
Cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month.
The Inflation Reduction Act included a $35 cap on the cost of insulin (and eliminates the deductible), but only for Medicare beneficiaries. The Administration and Democrats on the Hill fought to include this measure for all Americans, but that effort failed.
Provide an investment and tax credit to weatherize your home and your business to be energy efficient…lower the price of electric vehicles.
The Inflation Reduction Act included a variety of energy efficiency tax incentives, including an extension of tax credits for home energy efficiency improvements through 2032, along with an increase in the credit from 10% to 30%.
The Act also included several provisions that expand tax credits on electric vehicles; for example, for used and commercial-use electric vehicles.
Permanently close the coverage gap.
Though not permanent, the Inflation Reduction Act extended, for three years (the end of 2025), insurance premium tax credits for persons above certain income thresholds who are ineligible for Medicaid, significantly reducing the cost of buying Affordable Care Act health insurance offered through insurance exchanges.
Domestic Semiconductor Industry
Pass the bipartisan Innovation Act.
A modified version of the Innovation Act, called the CHIPS and Science Act, was enacted in August of 2022. Funding under the Act to support US domestic semiconductor industry growth should begin to be distributed this year.
Extend the expanded child tax credit.
While there were attempts in the Congress to reinstate the 2021 child tax credit provisions for the 2022 tax year, these efforts failed. Expanded tax credits implemented for the 2021 tax year increased the maximum credit to $3,000 or $3,600, depending on the age of the child, and made the credit fully refundable. Advocates argue that this measure pulled millions of American children and families temporarily out of poverty.
Expand pre-K education to three and four-year olds…increase Pell Grants…increase historic support for HBCUs…invest in community colleges.
Ambitious proposals for universal pre-K education and free community college education were not approved by Congress. The maximum Pell Grant Award was, however, increased by $500.
HBCU and Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) funding was increased by 15% for FY 2023 (+$137 million).
Implement a 15 percent minimum tax rate for corporations.
The Inflation Reduction Act included this new corporate tax.
Nobody earning less than $400,000 a year will pay an additional penny in new taxes.
In general, there were no income tax increases enacted for individuals.
Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act…provide paid leave…raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
No changes were enacted. While the House passed the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2021, the Senate was not able to consider the legislation given minority opposition. The same is true for paid leave legislation which passed the House in the President’s House-passed Build-Back-Better proposal, but which did not make the cut in the Inflation Reduction Act months later. The Federal minimum wage was not increased.
The Justice Department is announcing a Chief Prosecutor for Pandemic Fraud.
The Justice Department announced an appointment to this position on March 10, 2022.
The proposal was not enacted. The House passed this legislation in 2021, but the Senate did not act on the proposal during 2022.
Pass universal background checks…ban assault weapons with high-capacity magazines that hold up to 100 rounds…repeal the liability shield that makes gun manufacturers the only industry in America that can’t be sued.
Comprehensive gun safety legislation was enacted in 2022 that included enhanced background checks, but did not include universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, or changes in gun manufacturer liability.
Elections & Voting Rights
Pass the Freedom to Vote Act…the John Lewis Voting Rights Act…DISCLOSE Act.
While both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act passed the House in the 117th Congress, neither proposal could overcome minority opposition in the Senate to permit a vote. Consequently, neither proposal was enacted.
No action was taken on the DISCLOSE Act.
Provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those with temporary status, farmworkers, essential workers…revise our laws so businesses have workers they need and families don’t wait decades to reunite.
No immigration reforms were enacted during 2022 in any of these areas.
Veterans Toxic Exposure
Pass a law to make sure veterans devastated by toxic exposure in Iraq and Afghanistan finally get the benefits and the comprehensive health care they deserve.
Comprehensive toxic exposure legislation was enacted into law in August of 2022.
Disease Breakthrough Funding
Fund ARPA-H (i.e., the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health) which will have a singular purpose to drive breakthroughs in cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and more.
The Omnibus Appropriations Act for 2023 included $1.5 billion for ARPA-H, a $500 million increase (+50%) above the 2022 funding level.