President Joe Biden on Wednesday sharpened the contrast between his policies and what he derided as an “ultra-MAGA agenda” on the right as he looks to hone his midterm message heading into a high-stakes campaign season.
The President zeroed in on an economic plan put forward by the leader of the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, which Biden said was “extreme” and would raise taxes on millions of working-class American families. Scott’s plan, which has been rebuked by Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, includes many Trumpian proposals and calls for completing a border wall and naming it after former President Donald Trump.
“It’s a MAGA agenda all right. Let me tell you about this ultra-MAGA agenda – it’s extreme, as most MAGA things are,” Biden said from the White House, referencing Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
With control of Congress at stake this fall and many Democrats nervous about sky-high inflation and the President’s low approval ratings, Biden has shifted his posture and is increasingly going on the offense against Republicans as he tries to draw a clear distinction between the parties for voters.
“Under this new plan, this tax plan, the ultra-MAGA agenda, while big corporations and billionaires are going to pay nothing more, the working class folks will pay a hell of a lot more,” Biden said.
The President said, “There’s no reason why a billionaire should be paying a lower tax rate than a teacher or a firefighter. That’s in sharp contrast to what today’s Republican Party is offering. And if they hadn’t put this in print, you’d think I was making it up.”
The speech reflected Biden’s preparations for intense midterm campaigning built around hammering Republicans, as he tries to save Democrats in the House and Senate and also to tee up a reelection campaign that for now is expected to be announced by next spring.
With his approval rating as bad as the low 30s in some polls and nearly every Democratic strategist warning that the political environment is dire – and many in the party still complaining that the White House’s political operation lacks enough planning or urgency – the President is short on other options. But advisers and others who’ve spoken directly with him tell CNN the polarized country gives him a chance to make a more effective contrast than in any prior midterm cycle, boosted by the material they’re counting on from expected primary wins by Trump loyalists and other far-right candidates in May and June – as well as the anticipated Republican opposition to Biden’s last attempt at a domestic policy push in the congressional reconciliation process underway.
While Biden’s midterm message is expected to focus heavily on the economy, he attempted to draw the same contrast between Democrats and Republicans on abortion rights in response to a reporter’s question on Wednesday.
After being asked about the draft opinion from the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade and would be the most consequential abortion decision in decades, Biden said that if the final opinion was issued along the lines of the leaked draft, it would imply nobody has rights unless granted by the federal government.
“This is about a lot more than abortion,” the President said.
“What are the next things that are going to be attacked? Because this MAGA crowd is really the most extreme political organization that’s existed in American history, in recent American history,” he added.
For someone who spent much of his presidential campaign and first year in office frequently highlighting his decades of experience working with Republicans to pass legislation and refraining from attacking the GOP, Biden’s intensifying swipes at Republicans are notable.
“All kidding aside, this is a MAGA party now,” he said in speech less than two weeks ago. “These guys are a different breed of cat.”