A fiery President Joe Biden defended his economic agenda and blasted his Republican critics Tuesday in a speech to union members gathered in Philadelphia.
At an AFL-CIO’s Constitutional Convention, held every four years, Biden touted the rebound from the pandemic, calling it the greatest job recovery in American history. He pointed to the falling budget deficit and plans to lower prescription drugs prices, and he called on billionaires and corporations to pay more taxes. He also took aim at Republicans who attack his spending proposals. "I don’t want to hear any more of these lies about reckless spending. We are changing people's lives," he said.
Biden acknowledged that inflation, which has climbed to a four-decade high, is "sapping the strength of a lot of families." But he blamed the GOP for failing to help.
"The problem is Republicans in Congress are doing everything they can to stop my plans to bring down costs on ordinary families. That's why my plan is not finished and why the results aren't finished either," he said. “Jobs are back, but prices are still too high. Covid is down, but gas prices are up. Our work isn’t done. But here's the deal: America still has a choice to make. A choice between a government by the few for the few or a government for all of us. Democracy for all of us. An economy where all of us have a fair shot and a chance to earn our place in the economy."
Biden sought to contrast his policies with those of former President Donald Trump. “So many Americans lost their jobs that my predecessor became just the second president in history to leave office with fewer jobs in America than when he took office,” Biden said. “The other one, by the way, was Herbert Hoover.”
And Biden again took aim at an agenda proposed by Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, which includes a call for all federal legislation to sunset after five years. "Really ask yourself, how are they going to sleep at night knowing that every five years, Ted Cruz and the other ultra-MAGA Republicans are going to vote on whether you'll have Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid?" Biden said. "That's what this is about. They've always wanted to cut Social Security. They've always wanted to cut Medicare. They've always wanted to cut Medicaid."
Republicans have blamed Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, enacted last year, for fueling inflation. "Biden talks about his Scranton roots, but he couldn't care less about the struggles hardworking Pennsylvanians face today,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “Soaring inflation, record gas prices, and a baby formula shortage are only a few of the crises he’s dealt Keystone State families.”
Republicans issue proposals to combat inflation: Democrats have criticized the GOP for failing to put forth any plan to combat inflation. Congressional Republicans are beginning to sketch out some proposals.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and three other GOP senators on Tuesday proposed legislation that they say would provide some relief for lower- and middle-income Americans.
“Middle class families, retirees, small businesses and farmers have watched as their savings erode in value while still facing taxes on gains that may not even keep pace with inflation,” Grassley said in a statement “This creates a perverse incentive to spend now rather than save, further fueling inflation. Our bill will ensure that those hurting most from inflation aren’t further burdened by those taxes.”
The GOP plan would, among other things, exclude up to $600 in interest income for married couples (or $300 for individuals) from taxation, lower some taxes on investments and index the 3.8% Net Investment Tax created by the Affordable Care Act to inflation. The plan would pay for those changes by extending the $10,000 cap on the deductibility of state and local taxes, without indexing it for inflation.
The House GOP is also working on inflation proposals: “Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee are outlining their anti-inflation agenda,” The Wall Street Journal’s Richard Rubin reports. “The House outline includes policies that Republicans have advocated before, including rescinding unused federal spending, extending expiring tax cuts, increasing energy production and removing some regulations. Extending tax cuts set to lapse after 2025 could put more money into the economy and be inflationary, but Republicans will advocate that as a way to spur growth.”