President Joe Biden traveled to Maryland on Wednesday trying to keep the focus on Republicans’ legislative agenda after capitalizing on a viral moment over the future of Social Security and Medicare at last week’s State of the Union address.
Biden used his speech to further lean into his efforts to contrast his plans with Republicans’ agenda, focusing particularly on the debt ceiling impasse as well as GOP-endorsed legislation that the administration argues would constitute “a massive giveaway to the super-rich, big corporations, and Big Pharma.”
During the speech, the president told attendees at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 26 in Lanham that “because of you, my economy is working.”
“It’s a stark contrast to our Republican friends, who are doubling down on the same failed politics of the past. Top-down, trickle-down economics is not much trickle down … in most kitchen tables in America,” he continued.
Biden asserted that his upcoming budget proposal will cut the deficit by $2 trillion over 10 years and Americans making less than $400,000 a year “will not see a single penny increase in taxes.” By contrast, he claimed that “if you add up all the proposals that my Republican friends have offered just so far … they would add another $3 trillion to the debt over 10 years.”
Republican members were heard calling the president a liar when he claimed during the State of the Union that some members of the GOP want cuts to Social Security and Medicare. And Biden questioned Wednesday whether they’ll stick to their claims.
“Where are they going to cut?” the president asked of Republicans’ proposed budget, which – like Biden’s – has yet to be unveiled. “Are they going to cut Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act? Are they going to cut Social Security or Medicare, veterans’ benefits, aid to farmers? At the State of the Union they seemed to say that they’re not going to cut Social Security and Medicare. OK, great. I hope that’s true. But how are they going to make these numbers add up?”
The US has already begun to use extraordinary measures after the country hit the debt ceiling last month. The Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday that the federal government will be unable to fully pay its obligations sometime between July and September if Congress doesn’t address the debt limit before then.
In a fact sheet shared with CNN Tuesday, a senior administration official pointed to a series of efforts from of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which they said could lead to increasing the debt as a share of the economy “by almost 10 percentage points.” Those bills include H.R. 23, the Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act – which the White House called the “Tax Cheats Protection Act” – that the administration estimates would increase the deficit by $114 billion; legislation to repeal Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which the White House notes would rise Medicare costs for seniors; and a bill to extend Trump-era tax cuts on the wealthy, which the White House says would add $2.7 trillion to the federal deficit over ten years.
In the last several months, the president has repeatedly pointed to Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott’s plan, which would sunset all federal legislation – including Social Security and Medicare – every five years and require Congress to pass them again. But Scott’s plan didn’t make it far. And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly dismissed it.
The president on Wednesday responded to Scott’s debunked claim that the Inflation Reduction Act – a Biden-backed law passed last year – “cut $280 billion out of Medicare.”
“(Scott) says that because I’m cutting prescription drug costs I’m cutting Medicare. Where’s he been? I think he’s a little confused. We’re saving Medicare hundreds of billions of dollars over time. We’re strengthening Medicare because they’ll no longer have to pay exorbitant prices to Big Pharma. We’re saving millions of dollars in out of pocket expenses for seniors for drugs they need to stay healthy,” Biden said.
The president’s efforts to showcase his plans, which he says will ease the strain on American pocketbooks in a myriad of ways, comes amid what’s been widely seen as a soft launch of the platform of his potential 2024 reelection bid.
He’s used speeches over the last month to highlight his administration’s legislative priorities – particularly issues he often says are discussed at the kitchen table – and how he wants to finish the job by implementing their rollout.
He discussed infrastructure in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York. He stopped in Wisconsin to highlight job creation under his presidency and in Florida to slam some Republicans’ proposed cuts to Medicare and Social Security. And, much like Wednesday’s upcoming speech, he traveled to a nearby union hall in Virginia last month to hammer GOP economic proposals he has said would plunge the country into economic chaos.
The president also used a significant portion of his State of the Union speech earlier this month to share his plans to lower Americans’ out-of-pocket costs, including efforts to lower junk fees, lower the cost of prescription drugs and maintain entitlement programs.
Biden has signaled his willingness to continue working with Republicans on negotiating cuts to spending, so long as they agreed not to use the nation’s debt limit as a bargaining tool. But during Wednesday’s speech, the president reasserted that he would not let the US default, adding, “Sadly, what I’m hearing from the new leader of the House of Representatives and Republicans … they’re suggesting this cooperation has come to an end. Well, that’d be a big mistake for America.”
“Some of our Republican friends in the House are talking about taking the economy hostage over the full faith and credit of the United States,” he continued. “They say, unless I accept their economic plans – which is totally irresponsible – they’re not going to pay the national debt, which took 200 years to accumulate.”
Behind the scenes, McCarthy is beginning to chart out a new strategy to ensure the House GOP can muster 218 votes to raise the national debt ceiling and tie that to an array of cuts to federal spending, as the standoff with the White House shows no signs of easing.
CNN’s Manu Raju and Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.