In a meeting with his Cabinet secretaries on Jan. 6, President Joe Biden encouraged the leaders within his administration to quickly implement important pieces of legislation passed in 2021.
Americans need to see the impact of these laws, Biden said, which include acts designed to decrease the cost of insulin and impose penalties on pharmaceutical companies that increase prices above the rate of inflation.
“Today, we’re meeting to make sure that we deliver lower inflation, more jobs, and an economy that works for everybody, and that works from the bottom up and the middle out, not trickle-down economics, which is one of the reasons I ran for office in the first place,” Biden said.
“I’ve never seen trickle-down work very much for working-class families.
“After a rough few years, we’re seeing really bright spots across our entire nation. And I think we’ve made some real progress in the last going on two years now,” Biden added.
“Now we need to focus on implementing some of the big laws that we actually passed so the American people can feel the benefits of what we’ve done.
“The big laws we’ve passed are consequential, but they were basically promises to most people,” he continued. “They passed them, they’re now the law, they’re going to happen, but they didn’t take effect. “
More Affordable Insulin
Biden referenced the Affordable Insulin Now Act as an example. The measure, which caps insulin costs at $35 for seniors on Medicare, passed through the House last September and took effect on Jan. 1.
Around 40 million Americans have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since the cost of medication has tripled over the past decade, many patients struggle to pay for their needed drugs, research indicates.
In 2020, the average senior paid about $54 per month for insulin and some paid as much as $116 per month, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Under the Affordable Insulin Now Act, Medicare will limit insulin prices to $35 for a 30-day supply.
The cap applies to insulin covered by Medicare Part D plans. Insulin used in an insulin pump is covered under Medicare Part B. Caps on insulin used in traditional insulin pumps will start on July 1, 2023.
“The whole idea of paying, you know, $35 for insulin—well, that’s a nice promise after it was made six months ago. And it’s in the law, but it didn’t take place until Jan. 1,” Biden said. “People are only now going to begin to see it.”
Biden also said that “millions on Medicare are going to be allowed to pay zero for most of the vaccines they’re going to have—they’re going to need” and that “drugmakers are going to face penalties if they hike prices faster than the rate of inflation unless they can demonstrate they’ve made significant new investments to make the product better.”
Help to Make Homes Energy Efficient
He also said that, under the Inflation Reduction Act, families can receive up to $3,200 tax credits to make their homes more energy efficient, “reducing their prices, it’s estimated, at 500 bucks a year.
“Folks need to know to take advantage of these benefits that we got passed,” Biden said. “And that’s on us. That’s on all of us around the table to make sure we get that message out clearly.”
Biden said that the Federal Trade Commission will target non-compete agreements that keep wages low.
“It’s one thing to say … you can’t work … in a technology company on a special project that has scientific consequences and move to another company without a non-compete agreement,” Biden said.
“It’s another thing to say you’re working for Subway and you can’t walk across the street and go to Jimmy John’s and get a 20-cent raise.
“What the hell is that all about other than keeping wages down?” Biden added.
The Jan. 5 gathering marked the first time Biden has met with his Cabinet since last October. Since taking office in January 2021, he has convened his Cabinet secretaries six times.
Biden Continues Bi-Partisan Push
Biden has encouraged bi-partisanship and has touted accomplishments made by “Democrats and Republicans working together” since returning from his late December vacation in St. Croix.
On Jan. 4, the president joined a bi-partisan contingent that included Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in northern Kentucky.
Standing on the southern bank of the Ohio River in Covington, with downtown Cincinnati and the Brent Spence Bridge in the background, Biden praised the passage of his $1 trillion infrastructure bill in late 2021 that designated money for bridges and roads, broadband networks, and water projects nationwide.
The legislation included more than $1.63 billion in federal grants to Ohio and Kentucky to improve the Brent Spence Bridge, which carries vehicles along Interstate 71 and Interstate 75 over the Ohio River, and construct a companion bridge to help ease traffic on the existing structure.
Biden praised the cooperation between Ohio’s senators—Democrat Sherrod Brown and the recently retired Republican Rob Portman—and Democrat Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine for their longtime effort to secure funding for the aging bridge.
The structure opened in 1963 and now carries 160,000 vehicles a day—double the number it was designed for.
“As you know, because some of you traipsed down to the Brent Spence Bridge with me between Ohio and Kentucky, folks have been talking about repairing that bridge for decades. And we’re finally getting it done,” Biden told his Cabinet.
“We’re getting it done by working together, Democrats and Republicans—which was my message yesterday when I was joined by Mitch McConnell and a Republican governor and others—a bipartisan group of leaders …”
Ukraine War ‘At a Critical Point’
Before the Cabinet meeting, Biden had a phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
According to a White House statement, the two leaders discussed “their common determination” to provide continued support to Ukraine for its war with Russia.
The White House announced that “the United States will supply Ukraine with Bradley Fighting Vehicles (BFVs), and Germany intends to provide Ukraine with Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Both countries plan to train Ukrainian forces on the respective systems,” according to the statement.
Biden briefed his Cabinet about the BFVs and also added, “In addition, we’re going to help defend Ukraine against Russian air attacks. Germany has also announced that it’s going to provide the Ukrainians [weapons] to deal with air attacks, a Patriot air defense system.
“We’re going to provide an additional Patriot air defense battery,” Biden said. “They work, and the Russians are beginning to realize that. They function well, and they’re helping a lot.”
On Dec. 29, Biden signed the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package that includes $45 billion in additional assistance for Ukraine. The aid announced on Jan. 5 represents the first part of the package.
“Right now, the war in Ukraine is at a critical point,” Biden told his Cabinet. “We have to do everything we can to help the Ukrainians resist Russian aggression, and Russia is not attempting to slow up.
“The actions they’re taking are as barbaric as they were a year ago, and they’re not letting up at all.”
Regarding Jan. 6, Biden told a reporter after the meeting. “Pray God it never happens again.”