State of the Union 2022: The Pandemic

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President Joe Biden plans to give his State of the Union speech on March 1, 2022. I always tune in. I think of it as a sort of pep rally for America. I listen to the rebuttal, too, which is usually a doom and gloom speech about how tragic things are for all of us.

For the next few weeks, I’m reviewing and comparing what the Democratic Party hoped to do for the nation in their Party Platform with what’s accomplished so far.  I’m doing this because there’s more going on than we hear and read about. 

Protecting American and recovering from the COVID-19 Pandemic

You might recognize my tables from 2020, when I compared the Party Platforms of each party. Just so I can keep everything straight, I put the information into a simple chart, like I would for corporate goals.  This is also the way CoCo’s Individual Education Plans got laid out, too.  Pretty easy to understand; I think:  

We will______________ by_____________ so that______________ happens.  

Think of this as an annual review for President Biden.

mona lisa protection protect virus
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We willBySo that weProgress
Under-stand the scope of the pandemicMake testing available, convenient, freeSave livesRapid testing became available in 2021 at pop-up kiosk and health care centers. At home tests became free or reimbursable through most insurances in 2021. Medicare began paying for at-home tests in 2022.
Help Americans with health costsExpand Medicaid
Preserve and expand health insurance coverage39 States have adopted Medicaid Expansion, which was part of ACA.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 devotes Part J to various Medicaid expansions, many specific to COVID-19.
Help un-employed people with health costsPick up the cost of COBRA; reopen ACA enrollment; offer a public optionPreserve and expand health insurance coverageA six month free COBRA period for unemployed was part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. It ended in September 2021.
Restore supplies of PPEWork with private-sector manufacturers Ensure medical supplies are distributed according to needThe American Rescue Plan Act includes Emergency Rural Development Grants; Funding for supply chain; Funding for the Defense Production Act for medical supplies enhancement; and funding for Public Health supply chain.
Enforce non-discrimination protectionsProhibit rationing ; improve oversight for residents and staff at nursing homes;
expand support for telemedicine
Americans do not have to go without essential health care during the pandemicThe American Rescue Plan includes funding for “strike teams” for nursing homes; funding for telehealth is part of the Rural assistance and Behavior health needs;
Follow informed advice of scientist and public health expertsTake steps to protect federal science from political influenceWe are never again vulnerable to a global pandemicThe American Rescue Plan includes funding for science and technology.

Biden established a 46 member team to “unearth past problems with the politicization of science within government and to tighten scientific integrity rules for the future.”
Reform unemploy-ment insurance systemPromote payroll support and work-sharing programs;
expand unemployment insurance system to cover gig, part-time, and tipped workers; make sure all companies pay into the systems;
expand nutrition assistance and food security programs;
upgrade states’ unemployment system technology
Keep workers whole and take care of our workforceThe American Rescue Plan includes specific assistance for railroad workers and Veterans, as well as an Extention of the CARES Act for the unemployed.

WIC, SNAP, and other nutrition programs received funds for expansion through the American Rescue Plan
Support and create jobsExtend aid to state and local governments, school districts, and public and nonprofit colleges and universities to address budget shortfalls and secure jobs;
condition state and federal aid on maintaining and expanding public-sector employment
Prevent a depressionThe American Rescue Plan Act includes Aviation job protection, retraining for rail workers and veterans.

To support a living wage, Biden overturned four Trump era rules were overturned and put in effect one executive order.
Make child care affordable and widely availableProvide funding to stabilize the sectorChildren are safeThe American Rescue Plan includes block grants for child care, child care stabilization measures, subsidized meals during school closings, and Head Start.
Help small business meet payroll, pay rent and other expensesProvide grants and loans to small businesses;
prioritize women- and people-of-color-owned businesses
Businesses stay openGrants, loans, and loan forgiveness provisions are part of The American Rescue Plan Act.
Impose rigorous oversight on big corporations seeking assistanceFederal dollars keep workers on payrollCEOs and shareholders are not enrichedThe American Rescue Plan Act includes oversight funds for USDA, Veterans Affairs, and for Consumer protection from potentially dangerous products.

A five-member bipartisan Congressional committee is set up to oversee funding similar to that set up for TARP oversight.
Protect health of workersEnact robust paid sick leave protections;
enforce effective infectious disease workplace safety standards
No one needs to choose between protecting their health and earning a living.The American Rescue Plan Act includes credits for employers that pay sick leave. Funding is also provided for mental health services for health care providers.

The American Rescue Plan Act provides funding for infection control at nursing homes.
Provide everyone access to the internetPrevent states from blocking broadband networks;
increase federal support for municipal broadband;
increase public investment in rural, urban, and Tribal broadband infrastructure;
offer low-income Americans subsidies
Children and families can fully participate in school, work, and life from their homes.The American Rescue Plan Act provides homeowner assistance. Internet and broadband fees are included.

The American Rescue Plan includes internet-only publishers in the Employment protection elements.

Biden signed The Infrastruction Investment and Jobs Act will go into effect in March 2022. $65 billion will go toward expanding broadband.

Whew! That was a lot of work. And quite enlightening for me. Next up….The Economy

I think it’ll be interesting to hear what the State of the Union highlights. A lot of the “We Will..” got accomplished. I think the jury is still out on the “So That…” So far, we’ve avoided a depression. I’m sure we’ve saved lives, even though a lot of people are still dying. These are pretty lofty goals.