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Biden’s 2023 State of the Union proposals: What flopped and what succeeded

Every president announces a slew of initiatives in a State of the Union address, and we can expect many to be advanced on Thursday when President Biden goes before Congress. Here, in order of delivery, is a summary of 24 key proposals, pledges or priorities he announced in his address last year — and what happened to them.

Biden’s success rate, unsurprisingly, was pretty poor, given the Republican takeover of the House and the narrow edge Democrats hold in the Senate.

Biden: “We capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month for seniors on Medicare …. Let’s finish the job this time. Let’s cap the cost of insulin for everybody at $35.”

❌ Biden’s 2022 Inflation Reduction Act provided a $35 monthly cap on insulin for people 65 and older on Medicare. It would have capped the cost of insulin at $35 for all Americans, but Senate Republicans used a parliamentary rule to strip that provision out of the bill. Congress has not acted this year on Biden’s request to reinstate his original proposal.

Biden: “Thanks to the law I signed last year, millions are saving $800 a year on their [Obamacare health insurance] premiums. And, by the way, that law was written — and the benefit expires in 2025. So, my plea to some of you, at least in this audience: Let’s finish the job and make those savings permanent. Expand coverage on Medicaid.”

❌ Proposals to permanently extend Affordable Care Act subsidies — first included in the 2021 American Rescue Plan and then extended in the Inflation Reduction Act — have not advanced in Congress. Without a new law, marketplace premiums will spike in 2026.

Biden: “We’re going to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, installed across the country by tens of thousands of IBEW workers.”

❌ Biden’s “500,000” figure is a target for 2030. But in December, Politico reported that not a single charging station has been built yet. “States and the charger industry blame the delays mostly on the labyrinth of new contracting and performance requirements they have to navigate to receive federal funds,” Politico said. “While federal officials have authorized more than $2 billion of the funds to be sent to states, fewer than half of states have even started to take bids from contractors to build the chargers — let alone begin construction.” Some Republicans hope to roll back Biden’s funding.

Biden: “We have to reward work, not just wealth. Pass my proposal for the billionaire minimum tax.”

❌ Congress has not acted on Biden’s proposal to impose a minimum 25 percent tax on all taxpayers with wealth greater than $100 million.

Biden: “I propose we quadruple the tax on corporate stock buybacks and encourage long-term investments. They’ll still make considerable profit.”

❌ Congress took no action on this proposal.

Biden: “Let’s finish the job and close the loopholes that allow the very wealthy to avoid paying their taxes.”

❌ Congress also ignored these proposals.

Biden: “Instead of cutting the number of audits for wealthy taxpayers, I just signed a law to reduce the deficit by $114 billion by cracking down on wealthy tax cheats. That’s being fiscally responsible.”

✔ Biden won $80 billion in new funding for the Internal Revenue Service to step up enforcement, but Republicans scaled it back by $20 billion during budget negotiations. Biden’s deficit figure of $114 billion was based on a Congressional Budget Office estimate that the IRS would bolster revenue by $180 billion over 10 years. But the IRS said last month that it expects to earn as much as $561 billion in extra taxes if it gets the full $80 billion. So even with a reduced budget, Biden’s deficit-reduction target is plausible. So we will count this as still on track.

Biden: “How did Congress respond to that debt? They did the right thing. They lifted the debt ceiling three times without preconditions or crisis. They paid the American bill to prevent an economic disaster of the country. So, tonight I’m asking the Congress to follow suit. Let us commit here tonight that the full faith and credit of the United States of America will never, ever be questioned.”

✔ Biden, working with then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), in May reached an agreement to suspend the debt ceiling until 2025, after the next presidential election. It came with some costs — such as the reduction in IRS funding — but it was a victory for the president.

Biden: “So, tonight, let’s all agree — and we apparently are — let’s stand up for seniors. Stand up and show them we will not cut Social Security. We will not cut Medicare.”

✔ Biden’s impromptu back-and-forth with Republicans led to broad agreement that the old-age programs should not be subject to budget restrictions even as the nation’s debt piles up.

Biden: “Pass the bipartisan legislation to strengthen antitrust enforcement and prevent big online platforms from giving their own products an unfair advantage.”

❌ Tech giants had thwarted new antitrust laws in 2022, and no progress on new laws was made in 2023. The Biden administration last year published antitrust guidelines that called for heightened scrutiny of tech mergers, but the administration’s record in challenging such mergers has been mixed.

Biden: “We’re cutting credit card late fees by 75 percent, from $30 to $8.”

✔ The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Tuesday issued its final rule on credit-card late fees.

Biden: “Pass the Junk Fee Prevention Act so companies stop ripping us off.”

❌ Congress has not acted on this legislation.

Biden: “I’m so sick and tired of companies breaking the law by preventing workers from organizing. Pass the PRO Act! Because … workers have a right to form a union. And let’s guarantee all workers have a living wage.”

❌ The House passed the pro-union bill in 2021, on a vote of 225 to 206, but, despite a big push by labor groups, it never came to a vote in the Senate in 2022. Congress did not act on it in 2023.

Biden: “Let’s make sure working parents can afford to raise a family with sick days, paid family and medical leave, affordable child care. That’s going to enable millions of more people to go and stay at work.”

❌ Biden had included paid family and medical leave in his failed Build Back Better plan but eventually dropped it. Congress did not act on such issues in 2023, but in January a House bipartisan working group on paid leave released a modest, draft framework aiming to enhance access to paid family leave.

Biden: “Let’s restore the full Child Tax Credit — which gave tens of millions of parents some breathing room and cut child poverty in half to the lowest level in history.”

❌ Congress in 2022 failed to extend the expanded child tax credit provisions enacted in Biden’s first year, despite efforts to add it to the year-end spending bill, and little progress was made in 2023. But in January, the House of Representatives passed a nearly $80 billion bill that would expand the child tax credit and restore a set of corporate tax breaks. The bill faces stiff resistance from Senate Republicans.

Biden: “Let’s get seniors who want to stay in their homes the care they need to do so. Let’s give more breathing room to millions of family caregivers looking after their loved ones. Pass my plan so we get seniors and people with disabilities the home-care services they need — and support the workers who are doing God’s work.”

❌ Congress did not act on any nursing-home bill. The Biden administration in September announced several steps to improve nursing homes, including a regulation mandating a federal floor for staffing levels, new efforts to improve enforcement of staffing standards and increased oversight of nursing home performance.

Biden: “If we want to have the best-educated workforce, let’s finish the job by providing access to preschool for 3- and 4-years-old.”

❌ Biden won no new money from Congress to fund his child-care initiatives. The administration last month issued guidelines to encourage states to navigate a patchwork of federal funding programs to serve more children.

Biden: “We’re making progress by reducing student debt, increasing Pell Grants for working and middle-class families. Let’s finish the job and connect students to career opportunities starting in high school, provide access to two years of community college — the best career training in America, in addition to being a pathway to a four-year degree.”

❌ Biden included in his 2024 budget a $90 billion plan to provide free community college, but it was dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled House.

Biden: “Let’s triple the [coronavirus] anti-fraud strike force going after these criminals, double the statute of limitations on these crimes, and crack down on identity fraud by criminal syndicates stealing billions of dollars from the American people.”

❌ Lawmakers have ignored the president’s request for an additional $1.6 billion to fight fraud stemming from the pandemic, while underfunding the budgets at the Justice Department and other top federal watchdog agencies.

Biden: “Ban assault weapons now! Ban them now! Once and for all.”

❌ No action was taken in Congress to ban assault weapons.

Biden: “Let’s also come together on immigration. Make it a bipartisan issue once again.”

❌ A bipartisan border-security bill was unveiled in the Senate in February, but it quickly failed after former president Donald Trump urged Republicans not to give Biden a victory. Even if the bill had emerged from the Senate, it faced long odds in the House.

Biden: “Congress must restore the right that was taken away in Roe v. Wade — and protect Roe v. Wade. Give every woman the constitutional right.”

❌ The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, allowing states to immediately terminate abortion rights. An effort to codify the right to abortion into law has no chance in the GOP-controlled House and would have difficulty overcoming a Senate filibuster.

Biden: “We led. We united NATO. We built a global coalition. We stood against [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s aggression. We stood with the Ukrainian people.”

❌ That may have been in true for most of 2023, but Biden has struggled to win additional funding for Ukraine in the House. A Senate-passed bill providing Ukraine with $60 billion in military equipment has remained in limbo for weeks.

Biden: “It’s time to pass bipartisan legislation to stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on kids and teenagers online, ban targeted advertising to children, and impose stricter limits on the personal data that companies collect on all of us.”

❌ Neither the House nor the Senate has passed comprehensive privacy legislation. Meanwhile, congressional inaction has led 13 states to enact their own laws, which vary greatly.

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This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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