Lance Bottoms told reporters: “The president is keeping top of mind the importance of having these very difficult conversations about what more can be done to make sure that the lives of innocent people like Tyre Nichols aren’t lost because of police officers who are not honoring their commitment to protect and serve our communities.”
On the economy, Shalanda Young, White House director of the Office of Management and Budget, lauded the new unemployment rate for Black Americans, which hit its lowest level since 1969 at 5.4% in January.
“We have to remember where this president started. Black unemployment was over 9% when he became president. So he is presiding over one of the largest job increases, not just the economy overall,” said Young, who is the first Black woman ever to manage the government’s budget. “[It’s] a strong sign in this country that when the president talks about growing the economy, that [he’s also] brings along people who have historically been left behind in this economy.”
After Tuesday night’s address, several Biden-Harris administration officials will crisscross the country to promote the economic rollouts of landmark legislation that the president signed into law during his first two years in office, including the Inflation Reduction Act, which will lower prescription drugs and invest in environmental justice initiatives, among other improvements.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will figure in both the president’s speech and on the cross-country agenda. It will rebuild city bridges, roads, transit systems, airports and water pipes, as well as create more jobs to complete those projects. Senior advisor Mitch Landrieu noted that so far there are 20,000 projects underway and that African-American communities are “at the top of [Biden’s] mind” as investment projects are approved and rolled out.
Young noted that Biden will also preview his presidential budget for 2023, which will be released on March 9. “The budget will show his plan to continue investing in the American people, continue in lowering costs for families, protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare and ensuring the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share,” said Young.
But as Biden officials project a message of prosperity and accomplishment, recent public polling indicates that a majority of Americans feels they are worse off economically since the president took office. Further, they have indicated that they would like to see someone else run for president in 2024. This is in sharp contrast to the White House’s current messaging and is ill-timed as Biden is expected to soon announce his plan to run for reelection.
In an interview with theGrio last month ahead of the State of the Union, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., a Biden confidant whose 2020 endorsement helped save Biden’s presidential campaign, said the president deserves a Grade A for his first two years in office.
“This administration passed more progressive legislation than any administration since [President] Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Great Society back in 1965,” said the Democratic House assistant leader. “He deserves reelection.”
Landrieu said on Tuesday’s White House press call that despite the fact that administration officials highlighted legislative and policy wins, “We know we have more to do. The president’s ready to get to work and he’s going to talk a little bit more about that tonight.