Home Economy Biden weighs the state of the union and focuses on his unfinished agenda

Biden weighs the state of the union and focuses on his unfinished agenda

by SuperiorInvest

WASHINGTON — President Biden’s top economic aides have battled for weeks over a key decision for his State of the Union address Tuesday: How much to talk about child care, preschool, paid leave and more new spending proposals that the president failed to secure he signed a flood of economic legislation in his first two years in office.

Some advisers have pushed for Mr. Biden to spend relatively little time on those efforts, even though he is prepared to detail them again in the budget proposal he will release in March. They want the president to continue pushing through the spending he signed into law investment in infrastructure such as roads and water pipes and advanced manufacturing industries such as semiconductorswhile also positioning him as a bipartisan bridge-builder on critical issues for the middle class.

Other advisers want Mr. Biden to spend significant time in the speech on a topic that could form the core of his likely re-election appeal to key swing voters, especially women. Liberal group polls suggest that such a focus on helping working families afford care for their children and aging parents could prove to be a winning campaign message.

The debate is one of many taking place inside the administration as Mr. Biden tries to determine which topics to focus on in a speech of extraordinary importance this year. It will be Mr. Biden’s first address to the new Republican majority in the House, which has effectively put the brakes on his legislative agenda for the next two years. And it could be a preview of the issues Mr. Biden would emphasize during the 2024 campaign should he seek a second term.

Administration officials warn that Mr. Biden has not finalized his strategy. A White House official said Friday that the president is going to show off his economic record and his full vision for the economy.

Few of Mr. Biden’s advisers expect Congress to act in the next two years on paid leave, increased tax credits for parents, expanded support for caregivers of disabled and older Americans or expanded access to affordable child care. All were central to the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan that Mr. Biden announced in the first months of his administration. Mr. Biden proposes to offset these and other proposals by raising taxes on high earners and corporations.

Earlier this week, Mr. Biden signaled that he may be preparing to pay more attention to so-called “care economy” proposals that he and his economic team say would help ease problems that are straining family budgets and blocking potential workers from looking for jobs.

At an event at the White House to celebrate 30th anniversary of the law that he ordered some workers to take unpaid medical leave, Mr. Biden ticked off his administration’s efforts to invest in various care programs over the past two years, while acknowledging that he has failed to pass federally mandated paid leave and other larger programs.

Mr. Biden said he remains committed to “advancing a national paid vacation and medical leave program.”

“And by the way, American workers deserve paid sick days, too,” he said. “Paid sick days. Look, I’ve called on Congress to act, and I’m going to keep fighting.”

How Times reporters cover politics. We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. Thus, Times employees may vote, but may not endorse or promote candidates or political causes. This includes attending marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving or raising money for any political candidate or election cause.

According to Mr. Biden, continued calls for new spending initiatives aimed at lower- and middle-income workers would stand in stark contrast to the still-nascent field of Republicans seeking the White House in 2024. It would please some outside advocacy groups, forcing him to refocus the programs , which would help especially women and children.

The State of the Union address “presents a rare opportunity for the president to take a victory lap while advancing his agenda,” the group First Focus on Children said in a press release this week. “All for the benefit of the children.”

Efforts could also focus on what Mr. Biden’s advisers have identified as a persistent source of weakness in the recovery from the pandemic recession: the high cost of care that is keeping Americans from finding work. The the nonprofit group ReadyNation estimates in a new report that child care problems cost American families $78 billion a year and employers an additional $23 billion.

“Among prime-age people who are not working in the United States, about half of them cite caregiving responsibilities as the main reason for not participating in the labor market,” Heather Boushey, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters. week. She noted that job growth has lagged in care industries such as nursing homes and day care centers.

“These remain economic challenges, and addressing them could lead to a boost to our country’s labor supply,” she said.

But a focus on that economic work in progress could run counter to Mr. Biden’s repeated efforts this year to portray the economy as strong and position him as a president who has reached across the aisle to secure big new investments that will lift growth and job creation. On Friday, the president celebrated the news that the economy it created 517,000 jobs in Januaryin a short speech that did not mention the challenges that caregivers face.

Calls for sweeping new spending programs also risk further antagonizing House conservatives, who have cast government spending as their first major battle with the president. Republicans have threatened to allow the United States to slide into an economically disastrous national debt default by not raising the federal borrowing limit unless Mr. Biden agrees to sharply reduce existing spending.

“Government revenue has never been higher,” spokesman Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters Thursday, a day after met with Mr. Biden at the White House discuss fiscal issues and the debt limit. “It’s the highest revenue we’ve ever seen. So it’s not a revenue issue.” It’s a spending problem.”

Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

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