The Daily Telegraph

Biden calls for tax rises on America’s richest

President is expected to use State of Union address to call for increased tax on wealthiest Americans

- By Nick Allen in Washington

Joe Biden was last night expected to use his State of the Union address to call for taxes on the rich to be raised, offering a blueprint for his 2024 re-election campaign. Three-quarters of Americans polled by Associated PRESS-NORC believed the country was on the wrong track. The 80-year-old President’s 41 per cent approval rating is the second-lowest of any US president since the Second World War, and polls show a majority of Democrats do not want him to run again.

JOE BIDEN was last night expected to call for taxes on the wealthy to be raised, offering a blueprint for his 2024 re-election campaign.

In his State of the Union address, the annual speech in Congress that gives the US president his biggest TV audience of the year, Mr Biden was expected to issue a “tax the rich” rallying cry to his supporters.

It came amid fresh tensions with Beijing after a Chinese spy balloon traversed the continenta­l United States, and as Mr Biden faced criticism for not shooting it down earlier.

Before the speech, three quarters of Americans said the country was on the wrong track, according to an Associated PRESS-NORC poll.

More than 60 per cent did not believe Mr Biden had accomplish­ed much in his presidency so far, a separate Washington POST/ABC News poll found.

The 80-year-old president’s approval rating is at 41 per cent, the second-lowest of any US president since the Second World War, and polls show most Democrats do not want him to run again.

However, Mr Biden was set to use the address to appeal to Democrats by prioritisi­ng his demand for a minimum tax on billionair­es.

According to the White House, US billionair­es currently pay, on average, 8 per cent in tax, and Mr Biden has previously advocated that they should pay at least 20 per cent.

The White House said he would ask Congress to “make sure that the wealthiest Americans no longer pay a tax rate lower than teachers and firefighte­rs”.

He was also set to call for the quadruplin­g of a 1 per cent tax on corporate share buybacks, which was introduced as part of his Inflation Reduction Act last year.

Such moves have little chance of becoming law in a divided Congress, with the House of Representa­tives now narrowly controlled by Republican­s.

In the run-up to the speech Mr Biden and Republican­s were engaged in a standoff over the debt ceiling, and the White House said the president’s position was “not negotiable”. The $31.4trillion (£26.1trillion) figure must be raised in the coming months to avoid a default.

Kevin Mccarthy, the new Republican House speaker, has called for Mr Biden to agree to spending cuts and move towards a balanced budget, in return for Republican support in raising the debt ceiling.

But Mr Biden has vehemently opposed curbs on expenditur­e.

In his speech, the president was expected to highlight the US response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the strength of the Nato alliance.

With some Republican­s questionin­g the level of spending on Ukraine, he was expected to make the case for continued large-scale support.

A White House official said Mr Biden would also emphasise what he has called a “unity” agenda – areas of potential agreement between Republican­s and Democrats. That includes investing in cancer research, the welfare of military veterans, countering the smuggling of fentanyl at the southern border, and stronger privacy protection­s in the technology sector.

White House officials acknowledg­ed that polls showed the American public unenthusia­stic about Mr Biden’s presidency so far.

Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, said Mr Biden would “acknowledg­e and meet American people where they are”. He added that the president would accept that their “economic anxiety is real”.

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