President Joe Biden continued his attacks on Republicans Tuesday, warning in a speech from Virginia Beach, Virginia, that some in the GOP would raise health care costs, cut vital programs like Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act and cause millions of people to lose their medical insurance.
The president also kept up his focus on the deficit, continuing an effort to claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility and paint Republicans as endangering the full faith and credit of the country. Biden is set to release his budget on March 9 and has said it will protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid while also cutting deficits by $2 trillion over 10 years.
“If they say they want to cut the deficit but their plans actually would explode the deficit, how are they going to make the numbers add up? What are they going to cut?” Biden said of Republicans. “That’s the big question. For millions of Americans, health care hangs in the balance. Will they continue to fight to cut the Affordable Care Act and make health insurance more expensive for millions of Americans?”
Biden also touted his efforts to reduce health care costs, pointing to legislation he’s signed, including allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. “It’s a win-win,” he said of that program Wednesday. “It saves taxpayers money, it makes Medicare stronger and reduces government spending overall.”
Biden has been on the offensive as he prepares to release his 2024 budget proposal next week — the next step in what’s likely to be a long showdown with House Republicans over federal spending and debt. Biden’s attacks also come shortly before he is expected to announce a re-election bid.
Beginning with his State of the Union address earlier this month, the president has touted his policies and sought to contrast his agenda with that of Republicans seeking to force spending cuts as part of a deal to raise the nation’s debt limit. Biden has pressed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to put forth his own budget plan and propose specific spending cuts. McCarthy has not yet released such a plan, but Biden has used other GOP proposals and statements as a foil.
“Unfortunately, congressional Republicans to date haven’t put forward their own budget plan. They claim cutting the deficit is a top priority, but their floated proposals — based again on what we know so far — explode the deficit and increase it by more than $3 trillion,” White House Deputy Communications Director Kate Berner told reporters.
Why it matters: “The growing fixation on the deficit is notable for a White House that championed an expansive economic agenda, including trillions of dollars in emergency deficit spending that, it says, proved critical to fighting the pandemic and revitalizing the economy,” Politico’s Adam Cancryn writes, adding that some progressives are concerned by the president’s fiscal focus, worried that it could backfire in the event of a recession.
“This is the most anticipated recession in the history of the country, and if it finally happens, I promise you the deficit is going to go much higher on its own,” economist Stephanie Kelton told Politico. “Might as well anticipate that and not talk yourself into a situation where you told everybody to evaluate you on your ability to keep bringing the deficit down.”
The bottom line: Biden and his administration are trying to draw stark contrasts with Republicans, including by highlighting differences in the two approaches to deficit reduction. “[Biden] wants to reduce the deficit by having a real conversation about reforming the tax code, by cutting wasteful spending that we make to large corporations,” one White House official told Politico. “He’s not interested in having a deficit reduction conversation that’s about cutting programs Americans really count on.”