Biden Sets Plans for Infrastructure Law, Fighting Inflation

President Delivers Remarks in State of the Union Address
President Joe Biden delivers 2022 State of the Union address
President Joe Biden addressed topics ranging from Russia's invasion of Ukraine to bolstering infrastructure to combating inflation. (Al Drago/Bloomberg News)

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President Joe Biden in his first State of the Union address stressed a long-term vision for the $1 trillion infrastructure bill he signed last year, and discussed domestic and international priorities his administration is targeting.

“America used to have the best roads, bridges, and airports on Earth,” the president said March 1 from the U.S. House chamber. “That’s why it was so important to pass the bipartisan infrastructure law — the most sweeping investment to rebuild America in history.” Biden enacted the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Nov. 15.

“We’re done talking about infrastructure weeks. We’re going to have an infrastructure decade,” the president continued, referring back to earlier annual events that focused on infrastructure needs.

Biden noted that the law also is designed to support programs that create 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, as well as modernize drinking water systems.

“It is going to transform America and put us on a path to win the economic competition of the 21st century that we face with the rest of the world — particularly with China,” he said. Biden also focused attention on a plan for tackling inflation by lowering costs for working families and the middle class.

The proposal, he explained, partly consists of reducing energy costs by addressing climate change concerns, providing tax credits for weatherizing houses and businesses, and boosting clean energy production.

“I have a better plan to fight inflation. Lower your costs, not your wages,” said Biden, pointing to a supply chain-centric measure that would enhance domestic manufacturing of semiconductors. “My plan to fight inflation will lower your costs and lower the deficit. Seventeen Nobel laureates in economics say my plan will ease long-term inflationary pressures.”

Biden’s most recent attempt at tackling climate change was his Build Back Better social infrastructure budget, which was championed by Democratic leaders. The nearly $2 trillion House-passed Build Back Better Act would promote social safety net programs. The budget package, however, stalled in the Senate amid pushback from Republicans and a few Democrats. Critics cited inflation concerns.

Early in the address, Biden offered an update on the war in Ukraine and U.S. support for that country, and he discussed Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, health care relief programs, the COVID-19 pandemic and immigration reform.

Delivering the Republican response to Biden’s address was Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa, who focused on foreign policy and inflation.

“The president and Democrats in Congress have spent the last year either ignoring the issues facing Americans or making them worse,” said Reynolds. “They were warned that spending trillions would lead to soaring inflation. They were told their anti-energy policies would send gas prices to new heights. You don’t have to check groceries to see what high inflation does to people. You just need to step outside the D.C. bubble. Talk to Americans about what’s on their mind. Ask them: ‘What are your concerns? What keeps you up at night?’ ”

From Capitol Hill, reaction to the president’s address settled mostly along party lines. Sen Tom Carper (D-Del.), an advocate of Biden’s agenda, praised the president’s remarks. Carper is chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee on highway policy.

“The president made clear tonight that only bold action can help to save our planet while creating clean energy jobs and fostering economic growth for years to come,” said Carper. “There are a great deal of challenges facing our nation. But when we look at how far we’ve come in the past year, I’m confident that no one is better suited to lead us as we meet this historic moment — no one is better suited to build a better America — than President Biden.”

On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), ranking member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, criticized the president’s description of the $1 trillion infrastructure law.

“In the face of international turmoil, President Biden took a premature victory lap tonight on his massive infrastructure spending law. He failed to acknowledge that the true value of this investment is plummeting due to 40-year-high inflation and ongoing supply chain issues — issues that are exacerbated and prolonged by his administration’s woke policies,” said Graves.

“While the price of everything, from gas and diesel, to food and clothing, to construction materials needed for roads and bridges, remains on the rise,” Graves continued, “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine further underscores the need for the administration to tackle out-of-control spending and inflation, restore our energy independence and stop creating more red tape that increases infrastructure costs.”

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