Biden’s State of the Union–and the stories people from across the country are telling us–make the case for economic optimism


President Biden’s State of the Union address outlined the progress the U.S. has made on a multitude of fronts over the past two years in. The president highlighted major economic legislation that he has signed into law to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, boost domestic manufacturing and adoption of clean energy technologies, and lower costs for working families’ major expenses, like prescription drugs, health care, and utilities.

Despite these accomplishments, a poll released this weekend found just 36% of Americans believe Biden has accomplished a good or great amount as president. However, after the State of the Union speech, an exit poll found that 62% of Americans have a lot or some confidence that Biden will provide real leadership for the country. While some are branding the president’s address as his opening sales pitch for potential re-election, the policies he spoke about aren’t empty promises on a campaign trail.

The timeline of policy implementation for new programs can range from months to years, so communities may not always experience benefits right away. Though the president recognized the current realities of economic hardship, Biden gave a preview of an economic hope that is bound to grow as investments begin to transform American lives. As these policies go into effect, more economic success stories will emerge.

The stories that real people volunteer to the Center for American Progress show just how transformative and significant these policies are. For instance, Americans have already saved thousands of dollars on health care costs, including through a $35 cap on insulin costs for Medicare beneficiaries. That’s life-changing for people like Robin, a senior who still works part-time because she’s been paying for insulin priced at $1,800 a month. Others, like Bernetha, who began forgoing prescriptions for her chronic illness because she couldn’t afford them, are eagerly anticipating other policy successes that are yet to go into effect–such as the $2,000 out-of-pocket maximum for Medicare beneficiaries’ prescription drug spending. Thanks to those savings, she will not only be able to fill her prescriptions, but also start her overdue retirement.

Investments in America’s infrastructure have given municipalities tools to modernize and expand economic opportunities. In Chickasaw Nation land, Oklahoma, Kandie’s internet bill dropped from $100 to $24 a month because of Biden’s internet affordability program. Meanwhile, in Cochise County, Arizona, Mignonne’s organization opened a new telehealth hub for rural community members because fiber optic cables connected the facility to the wider broadband grid.

America’s investments in clean energy aim to create 1 million new jobs in the U.S.–and some experts predict that the actual number could be significantly higher. It’s brought hope to people like Jacob, a third-generation boilermaker in Arizona. He sees the new Southwest regional hydrogen hub being built as the best avenue for boilermakers to transfer their skills, strengthen union membership, and predicts 240 new boilermakers will be hired there because of the president’s plan.

President Biden has presided over a successful series of legislative accomplishments in an economy that is doing well by the numbers. The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 54 years–since 1969. Americans have created more small businesses in the last two years than in any two-year span on record. Annual inflation is down six months in a row. These numbers mean more when people can feel the effects in their everyday lives. While not all Americans are familiar with Biden’s agenda now, it will significantly transform their lives in the coming years.

Sage Warner is the Stories Director at Center for American Progress and Action Fund. She is currently completing her MPH at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a focus in Policy and Management. For more information on the Stories program, click here.

The opinions expressed in commentary pieces are solely the views of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of Fortune.

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