State of the Union Reaction: Trade Groups Slam Biden’s Policies, Unions Praise Jobs Impact

March 8, 2024
ACC says Biden is stifling innovation and growth, while USW president says policies are a boost to American workers.

In his State of the Union address on March 7, President Biden briefly highlighted various economic incentive programs, emphasizing their role in creating jobs and boosting U.S. industrial output.

In particular, Biden made specific mention of the CHIPS and Science Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. He asserted that his initiatives resulted in $650 billion in private-sector investments in clean energy and advanced manufacturing, resulting in the creation of tens of thousands of jobs. This encompasses 46,000 new projects under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the establishment of new semiconductor plants in the U.S. through the CHIPS Act.

These investments hold particular importance for the chemical industry, given its role in supplying materials for semiconductors, road construction and advanced battery material research.

While Biden avoided specific aspects of the initiatives, industry trade groups zeroed in on his regulatory record, saying a yawning gap exists between his economic goals and policies. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) was critical of the infrastructure bill shortly after the president signed it into law in 2021. ACC President and CEO Chris Jahn reiterated many of those points in a statement released ahead of Biden’s address.

“A surge in new, misguided restrictions is impeding the chemical industry’s ability to create the very products and innovations needed to bring national priorities like the BIL, IRA (Inflation Reduction Act) and CHIPS Acts to fruition,” Jahn said in the prepared statement. “President Biden and his administration would be wise to change course: we say work ‘with us, not against us’ – many of your goals and our national priorities depend on American chemistry.”

Jahn added that the administration is enacting regulations that may hinder the production of essential chemicals required for semiconductors, which typically use 500 specialized chemicals per chip. This regulatory approach could raise costs, prevent U.S. producers from making these chemicals, and give foreign competitors an edge in the global market, Jahn said.

“A rigorous, balanced analysis of the costs and benefits of sweeping new environmental rules would help President Biden steer clear of raising the cost of living for already struggling families and sending high-wage American jobs overseas. With one of the most consequential elections in a generation bearing down, he can’t afford to make any unforced errors.”

Similarly, the National Association of Manufacturers stated that Biden “missed the mark” in his speech, calling his approach a “regulatory onslaught” that is driving investment overseas and putting Americans out of work.

Labor groups were less pessimistic. The United Steelworkers, which represents employees in the chemical industry, praised Biden’s investments for creating millions of jobs, modernizing the nation and enhancing national security.

“Hundreds of thousands of USW members across the country know the power of these investments firsthand,” said USW’s international President David McCall in a statement in advance of the address. “We’re negotiating stronger contracts, bargaining higher wages, producing more goods, and upgrading manufacturing facilities because of the Build America, Buy America provisions that President Biden inserted into legislation like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.”

Ron Bieber, Michigan AFL-CIO President, similarly stated that the president has “secured billions of dollars for Michigan infrastructure projects that will support good-paying union jobs. His administration has been a fierce ally as we fought and won historic workers’ rights victories this past year.”

About the Author

Jonathan Katz | Executive Editor

Jonathan Katz, executive editor, brings nearly two decades of experience as a B2B journalist to Chemical Processing magazine. He has expertise on a wide range of industrial topics. Jon previously served as the managing editor for IndustryWeek magazine and, most recently, as a freelance writer specializing in content marketing for the manufacturing sector.

His knowledge areas include industrial safety, environmental compliance/sustainability, lean manufacturing/continuous improvement, Industry 4.0/automation and many other topics of interest to the Chemical Processing audience.

When he’s not working, Jon enjoys fishing, hiking and music, including a small but growing vinyl collection.

Jon resides in the Cleveland, Ohio, area.

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