State Policy Network
State Policy Network Experts Respond to the State of the Union 
The states, not Washington, DC, hold the answer to many of America’s problems 

President Biden delivered his much-anticipated State of the Union Speech address last night. As the media and political pundits analyze the president’s delivery, tone, and policy ideas, few will consider if the federal government should be the sole source of solutions for many of the problems Americans face.  

State and local governments, which are closer to the people they govern, can often provide better solutions to what ails us—whether that’s soaring healthcare costs, high taxes, or unaffordable homes.  

State Policy Network experts responded below to the president’s policy prescriptions in his State of the Union and underscored the role states can play in addressing the concerns that are top of mind for American families.  

From the Ground Up: Why the States are Key to Solving America’s Challenges 

On the energy front, President Biden touted his efforts to cut emissions and create thousands of clean energy jobs. Amy O. Cooke, SPN’s Visiting Energy Fellow, noted the states, not the federal government, can more effectively advance energy policies that balance environmental concerns while producing efficient and affordable energy: 

“Under the Biden Administration, Americans are spending more to power their homes and vehicles. The best thing the federal government can do for energy and environmental policy is reduce the green tape and then get out of the way. It can provide a regulatory and permitting framework that encourages energy abundance and environmental stewardship. State and local elected officials, private property owners, and local communities are in the best position to decide how to develop their natural resources responsibly and reliably, affordably power their economies so every American can thrive.” 

Naomi Lopez, a Visiting Healthcare Policy Fellow at SPN, encouraged the Biden administration to reconsider rules on short-term insurance policies and outlined how the states are stepping up to reduce healthcare costs:

“The Biden administration’s rhetoric on healthcare costs doesn’t match the counter-productive impact some of its policies have on healthcare access and affordability.

For example, short-term, limited-duration insurance (STLDI) policies, often referred to as “bare-bones,” short-term plans are not subject to ACA (Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare) regulations, including essential health benefits, guaranteed issue, and pre-existing condition protections. But they do offer an option to people needing coverage but who found ACA plans to be ill-suited, such as those between jobs or those who wanted inexpensive coverage for emergencies.

The Biden administration has proposed rules that would limit this important option for families whose needs and preferences align with this option for coverage. While there is no silver bullet to the problems facing the American healthcare system, more healthcare affordability and choice provide an important step in the right direction. The president should reconsider this proposed rule that limits STLDIs.

Despite misguided rules like these from the federal government, the states are stepping up to reduce healthcare costs and improve access for all Americans. From expanding telemedicine to removing burdensome certificate-of-need (CON) laws to restoring accountability in taxpayer-funded Medicaid programs, the states are proving that real reform happens at the state level.”

Michael Lucci, an Economic Policy Fellow at SPN, replied to the president’s notes on inflation and the economy and highlighted how the states are reducing taxes—giving Americans relief and a way to cope with high prices: 

“President Biden’s SOTU reflected the ultimate Washington mindset. Essentially, the president argued that big bureaucrats, big programs and big taxes are the solution, and that states, successful businesses, civil society, and free people are the problems. 

President Biden’s message was unfortunately as off-base as his delivery. Over the course of his administration, while the federal government has created inflation and dysfunction, many state governments have produced extraordinary successes in reopening the economy and cutting taxes. The federal government has failed at nearly everything other than spending gobs of money that future generations will pay for.  

The federal government should do less, and states, businesses, and civil society should be allowed to do more. The federal government is creating more problems than it fixes. The Biden administration should do less and get our federal finances in order. If states, businesses, and civil society are given space to do more, America will succeed.” 

Erin Norman, the Lee Family Fellow and Senior Director of Communications at State Policy Network, highlighted a missing component in President Biden’s comments on the American comeback: 

“President Biden opened with a line saying thousands of towns are writing untold comeback stories but he refused to acknowledge the outsized impact local government and community organizations play in those comebacks. We don’t need more from mandates Washington to make these stories possible—we need autonomy and engagement at the local level.” 

Ray Nothstine, a Senior Editor and Writer for American Habits, responded to the president’s remarks on democracy and pointed out it works better when we outsource more of our federal power to the states:  

“President Biden talks a lot about protecting democracy—which is an essential component of America’s self-governing heritage, but “democracy” becomes disordered when we centralize so much power and decision-making in D.C., it’s too far away from states and localities—more specifically—the people. 

It has long been apparent that we must outsource more of our federal power to the states. Our Constitution demands rigid constraints on centralized power for good reason—it greatly diminishes and dilutes our self-governing culture, threatening our ability to chart our own destiny. 

The whole notion that one man or woman who represents the federal government has hundreds of solutions for hundreds of millions of Americans is a ridiculous concept. Thankfully, America’s framers designed a different system of government that disperses most powers to states and localities. We’d be wise to embrace their vision once again. 

The State of the Union really should just be another reminder to recover our self-governing heritage, which is primarily found in state government, localities, and the people. 

A State of the Union address is a worthy endeavor for any president, but if it fails to recognize that the federal government can’t be an expert or overseer of the needs of hundreds of millions of Americans, it’s of no value as a legitimate path forward for the people, who are — in fact, the government.” 

If you are interested in connecting with one of these experts, please contact Camille Walsh at  

Organization: State Policy Network