Biden’s State of the Union Address Falls Flat: Issues with Medicaid and Other Commentary

Elex beat: Biden’s State-of-the-Union Misfire

President “Biden started his speech with these words: ‘If I were smart, I’d go home now,’” quips USA Today’s Ingrid Jacques: “He should take his own advice.” Why? Well, “rather than take responsibility for the border, Biden once again pointed blame to Trump and Republicans in Congress for holding up legislation related to immigration.” Consider also “Biden’s misplaced priorities” on student debt and “big-government and spending initiatives.” Also, his attempts to goad GOPers “didn’t work and called into question Biden’s calls for unity.” Sure, “Biden got through his hour-long speech, with a few stumbles and mumbles.” But “one speech is not enough to ease the very real concerns voters have about President Biden’s age and his ability to govern for four more years.”

Libertarian: Joe’s Shrinkflation Band-Aid

Reason’s Eric Boehm admits that President Biden’s railing against shrinkflation, “the annoying corporate practice of shrinking the size of products rather than raising prices,” may be “a politically savvy move.” But his “economically illiterate attempts to pin shrinkflation on greedy corporations aren’t telling even half of the story.” First, “shrinkflation is just inflation,” and nothing new. And “Biden’s proposed solution to shrinkflation would automatically cause prices to rise” (if it works): “Assume every company in America decides to immediately undo any reductions in the size or quantity of products. What would happen to prices?” They’d go up! This “would make Americans even more aware of how inflation is affecting them. The White House should be careful what it wishes for.”  

Eye on Albany: NY’s Medicaid Cost Spiral

Despite “three years of double-digit growth” in the state’s $36 billion share of Medicaid spending, “hospitals, nursing homes and other provider groups are clamoring for further increases,” reports the Empire Center’s Bill Hammond. Medicaid spending “has outpaced school aid to become the state’s costliest spending item.” This spending growth has accelerated post-pandemic — “a period when the pressure on Medicaid ought to have been easing.” In New York, Medicaid long ago “expanded well beyond its original mission of covering the poor and disabled.” Recent pay hikes will cause minimum wage-related costs “to jump 49 percent from fiscal 2024 to fiscal 2025.” And the Legislature weakened the “global cap on Medicaid spending” so that the share of exempted expenditures will rise from 26% in 2020 to 33% in 2024.

From the right: Macron’s Brilliant Blunder

Last week, when French President Emmanuel Macron “openly contemplated in a press conference the possibility of sending European troops to Ukraine to help Kyiv win the war against Russia,” he signaled to Russian President Vladimir Putin that that he “will not allow Ukraine to lose, and that it is therefore futile to continue the war,” argue Jonathan Sweet & Mark Toth at The Hill. Yes, “Germany, Poland, Finland and Sweden quickly distanced themselves from the French president,” but this “diplomatic blunder . . . is unexpectedly becoming a brilliant move” as the leaders of Estonia and Czechia echoed Macron. “Even Canada now expresses openness to sending troops to Ukraine . . . albeit in a non-combatant role.” “Macron is pushing buttons and making Western leaders increasingly uncomfortable.” But “they need to be pushed,” and “Russia is clearly rattled.”

Foreign desk: Capitalism Will Keep US Strong

“These are terrifying times,” laments Walter Russell Mead at The Wall Street Journal. “A coalition of powers from China and Russia to Iran, Venezuela and North Korea” is trying to “break American power,” even as “culture wars and bitter polarization” have distracted the country. Yet “the Pax Americana” is “robust,” especially since US power is “grounded in capitalism.” Despite the chaos, “our farms and factories are becoming more productive. Our financial markets are becoming more sophisticated. Our computers are getting faster and more complex, our software more capable.” There’s “no guarantee of a smooth ride ahead. But if America remains a dynamic society filled with raucous, ambitious and impatient people,” we’re likely to surprise everyone “with the wealth we create — and the power that flows from it.”

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

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