Advocates praise Biden commitment to pro-family care agenda during State of the Union


President Joe Biden reiterated his promise to veto GOP efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare.

Advocacy groups praised President Joe Biden for his remarks in the 2023 State of the Union in support of a care agenda, including paid family leave, paid child care, and assistance for caregivers. Groups including NARAL Pro-Choice America, Child Care for Every Family Network, and A Better Balance also spoke out in support of Biden's promise to veto any legislation that would cut Social Security or Medicare benefits.

Biden delivered his nationally televised speech on Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress.

"Let's make sure working parents can afford to raise a family with sick days, paid family and medical leave, affordable childcare. That's going to enable millions of more people to go and stay at work," Biden said, according to a transcript released by the White House.

He added: "And 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. And, by the way, when we do all of these things, we increase productivity, we increase economic growth. So let's finish the job and get more families access to affordable, quality housing."

Biden said that implementing such policies increases productivity and economic growth.

Biden also called for support for home care for seniors and people with disabilities: "Let's give more breathing room to millions of family caregivers looking after their loved ones."

Many of the issues Biden mentioned were included in the Build Back Better Act proposal offered by Biden and congressional Democrats in 2021, legislation that didn't pass in Congress. A stripped-down version of the bill, the Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed into law by Biden on Aug. 16, 2022, did not include care-related issues.

During the speech, groups that support increased government funding for family care efforts responded positively.

NARAL Pro-Choice America tweeted, "Thank you @POTUS for making the case for #PaidLeaveForAll."

"We were thrilled to hear @POTUS name the #StateofChildCare as a top priority during his #SOTU address," tweeted the account of the Child Care for Every Family Network, which describes itself as a "national campaign and movement to build a child care system that works for all of us."

Research has shown that there are health and economic benefits to paid leave. A 2018 study by the National Partnership for Women & Families estimated that a national paid leave program would lead to 600 fewer infant deaths in the U.S. In California, where there is a paid leave program, data shows that the risk of poverty for mothers of infants decreased by 10.2%, while the average household income increased 4.1% on average.

"No one should have to sacrifice their economic security in order to care for their health and their loved ones," said A Better Balance, a nonprofit advocating for economic justice. "Thank you @POTUS for calling for the paid sick time and #PaidLeaveForAll policies that working families urgently need!"

National opinion polls have shown widespread bipartisan support for long-term government investment in care issues. A Data for Progress poll taken Sept. 10-13, 2021, showed 79% of respondents either "strongly" or "somewhat" supported such spending.

In his speech, Biden also reiterated his previous threat to veto legislation that would cut Social Security or Medicare benefits.

"Those benefits belong to the American people. They earned it. And if anyone tries to cut Social Security — which apparently no one is going to do —and if anyone tries to cut Medicare, I'll stop them. I'll veto it," Biden said.

As he spoke, several Republican lawmakers in attendance booed in protest, but members of the GOP have previously offered up legislative proposals that would cut funding to those popular programs.

"Let's all recognize how critical this is to family caregivers. While our care infrastructure is weak, Medicaid & Social Security are its bedrock," Jason Resendez, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving tweeted in response to Biden's remarks.

Cuts to the programs are extremely unpopular. In an Economist/YouGov poll conducted from Jan. 21-24, 68% of respondents said they opposed efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare. Even among Republicans, support for cutting spending on the programs was at only 22%.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.