SOTU: Don't expect to hear Biden talk about "Build Back Better"

SOTU: Don't expect to hear Biden talk about "Build Back Better"
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

One gets the feeling that whoever is writing Joe Biden’s State of the Union address for him is still making major revisions with only a few hours to go. Some of the early leaks of what will be on the agenda have included what sounds like a wise idea to not “declare victory” over the pandemic. But there will be plenty of climate change chatter to keep the President’s hard-left wing happy. He probably won’t be able to avoid talking about Ukraine and will likely try to take credit for the unified global blowback against Russia. But at least according to Huffington Post, there’s one thing you won’t be hearing. The phrase “Build Back Better” will not be passing Biden’s lips.

When President Joe Biden goes before Congress Tuesday night for his State of the Union address, he will continue his plea for lawmakers to pass his sprawling domestic policy bill — just don’t call it the “Build Back Better Act.”

The stalled legislation has been the centerpiece of Biden’s agenda, a single multitrillion-dollar solution to a range of problems afflicting the country, from climate change, to jobs, to child poverty. But with inflation raging, senior administration officials suggested Monday that Biden would put more emphasis on proposals to reduce federal budget deficits.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, noticeably avoided the “Build Back Better” brand during a Monday conference call previewing the speech, saying the president would ask Congress to pass “a piece of legislation” addressing economic problems facing American families.

If the unnamed sources that HuffPo is quoting are at all accurate, the reality is that Biden actually will be talking about BBB, but without invoking the name of the bill. They claim that he will prompt Congress to send him bills that “lower costs of everyday expenses working families face.” He’ll talk about bringing down the cost of prescription drugs and lowering the deficit. (That one was tossed in for Manchin’s benefit.) He’ll also call for bills that would lower the cost of health care premiums and child care.

If you’ve been taking notes throughout this whole process, you’re probably noticing that all of those things were included in BBB. Only the names and descriptions are changing. In other words, he’ll be talking about BBB without saying the name of the previous gargantuan bill. That’s probably because the Democrats have realized that the bill had become so toxic by the time Manchin finally tanked it that it would never garner the sort of public support they hoped to achieve heading into the midterms.

Also missing will likely be any sweeping descriptions of the desired legislation as some sort of “new, new deal” that would “reshape the fundamental structure of society.” Perhaps they finally figured out that most of the country is actually okay with our societal structure (though some fine-tuning is always up for discussion) and we don’t need to “remake America.”

Another theme that will allegedly make it into the speech is a proposal for legislation that would “reward work rather than wealth.” This is apparently the new catchphrase for massively taxing the rich and redistributing it to politically favored demographic groups. It’s yet another curious choice of wording because a large segment of those who would benefit aren’t actually working.

Given all of the focus on Ukraine right now and the floundering approval ratings for Biden personally and his party in general, I’m not expecting this speech to move the needle significantly. And once it’s over, the same problems with international tension, Bidenflation, and open borders will still be on the President’s plate as well as dwelling in the minds of voters. I’ve been saying for years that this tradition really doesn’t need to continue and the President could just send a letter to Congressional leaders informing them of his plans and his opinion on the state the country finds itself in. (It’s really not even a constitutional requirement that he make a public address.) But I suppose it won’t be going away any time soon.

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