Massachusetts lawmaker hopes President will express ‘confidence’ in economy during State of the Union address

Congressman thinks that the Biden economic story is better than what the public perceives
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 10:47 AM EST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) is expressing hope in a growing economy even as he notes inflation is still a lingering issue as President Joe Biden prepares to give his first State of the Union address.

“I hope he pivots hard to the success of the economy. I understand the argument over inflation, but it’s also important to point out that we have almost a full employment economy, an unemployment rate that hovers at just about 4%. Six million new jobs have been created since he took the oath of office,” said Neal. He added, “I think that the Biden economic story has been better than the public at the moment notes.”

A January report from the U.S. Department of Labor found the annual rate of inflation rose to 7.5%. That’s a 40-year high. The same January report found promising news on the job front as employers added 467,000 jobs that month. The agency also reports that employers have raised wages at the fastest rate in 15 years, but that inflation has trimmed real hourly earnings by 1.7%.

Neal added the pandemic remains a top issue in the state of Massachusetts. He praised the state’s hospital system and said health care workers have not only met the challenge but also gone ‘above and beyond.’

“COVID I think that it’s a challenge. The numbers are getting much better almost daily on COVID. I listen to those statistics every day and I do think that there’s still a bit of a dust up that’s occurring over masking and unmasking. But, I also think that by and large the Biden story is pretty good there as well,” Neal said.

Nationally, Neal said he’s also interested in focusing more efforts on the child tax credit and paid family leave. Both of those issues were part of the President’s ‘Build Back Better’ agenda that stalled in the Senate.

Internationally, Neal said the President will surely focus a large part of his State of the Union speech on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“That’s going to be a huge issue. I think he’s handled it pretty well,” said Neal who praised the President’s ‘measured response’ and for helping to unite NATO towards aggressive sanctions.

In Massachusetts, Neal said he is interested in working to further support the expansion of the East-West rail project, intended to improve mass transit connections from Boston to Springfield and onto Pittsfield.. He said he has been actively speaking to Governor Charlie Baker about that issue.

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