WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden criticized House Republicans on Thursday in his first major economic remarks of the year, arguing GOP proposals would lead to higher inflation.
Speaking at a steamfitters union hall in Springfield, Virginia, Biden bashed the GOP, saying: “This ain’t your father’s Republican Party. This is a different breed of cat, as they say.”
“They campaigned on inflation. They didn’t say if elected they planned to make it worse,” he said in his speech, a mix of prepared remarks and off-the-cuff comments.
“Look, that’s how they’re starting this new term: cutting taxes, on billionaires, raising taxes on middle-class families and making inflation worse.”
Biden also warned that the GOP wants to cut Social Security and Medicare.
“We’ve come too far to let that happen. I will not let it happen — not on my watch,” said Biden, who threatened to veto any legislation that comes to his desk that makes any cuts to those programs.
Biden characterized the House GOP’s economic proposals as a “MAGA economic plan” — a reference to former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” 2016 campaign slogan.
Thursday's remarks were not the first time Biden has gone after GOP economic plans this year. In a speech on Martin Luther King Jr Day, he knocked House Republicans’ tax proposals as “fiscally demented,” targeting their push to revoke new IRS funding and a bill that would abolish the federal tax agency and replace income tax with a federal tax on consumption. Biden pledged to veto their legislation, which is all but certain to fail in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The first bill the new House GOP majority voted on, sponsored by Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., would remove more than $70 billion in new IRS spending approved last year as part of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, including money to hire 87,000 new agents, a frequent target of Republican criticism. The legislation passed in the House on a 221-210 party-line vote. A second bill that has drawn Biden’s criticism, to abolish the IRS, eliminate income taxes and institute a federal consumption tax, was introduced this month by Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga.
In addition to attacking Republicans on Thursday, Biden also touted the "good news about the American economy" that came out Thursday morning, showing it grew at a 2.9% annual rate in the fourth quarter of last year.
"Jobs are the highest in American history, and wages are up, and they’re going faster than inflation. Over the past six months, inflation has gone down every month, and God willing, we’ll continue to do that. Manufacturing jobs continue to grow stronger than any time in the last 40 years. And I don’t think it’s unfair to say that this is all evidence that the Biden economic plan … it’s working," he said.
Biden highlighted legislative accomplishments during his tenure, including the pandemic-related economic stimulus package passed in 2021, the infrastructure spending bill, a bill to boost computer chip production and last year's climate, health care and tax package.
Biden also announced a new “Invest in America” Cabinet consisting of the secretaries of commerce, labor, transportation, treasury, energy and health and human services; the EPA administrator; and senior White House advisers. Biden is tasking them with instituting his economic plans.
The U.S. government hit its statutory debt limit last week. The Treasury Department said it has begun resorting to “extraordinary measures” to pay the bills. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the special financial tools to meet the country’s obligations can continue until at least June 5, creating a deadline for Congress to act to avert a default.
Republicans are demanding spending cuts in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling and averting a default on U.S. debt. GOP leaders, however, have not put forward a unified party plan to cut spending.