The Mercury News Weekend

Biden hammers Republican­s on economy

- By Jim Tankersley

>> President Joe Biden on Thursday assailed House Republican­s over their tax and spending plans, including potential changes to popular retirement programs, before what is likely to be a run for reelection.

In a speech in Springfiel­d, Virginia, Biden sought to reframe the economic narrative away from the rapid price increases that have dogged much of his first two years in office and toward his stewardshi­p of an economy that has churned out steady growth and strong job gains. Biden, speaking to members of a steamfitte­rs union, sought to take credit for the strength of the labor market, moderating inflation and news from the Commerce Department on Thursday morning that the economy grew at an annualized pace of 2.9% at the end of last year. In contrast, he cast House Republican­s and their economic policy proposals as roadblocks to continued improvemen­t.

“At the time I was sworn in, the pandemic was raging and the economy was reeling,” Biden said before ticking through the actions he had taken to aid the recovery. Those included $1.9 trillion in pandemic and economic aid; a bipartisan bill to repair and upgrade roads, bridges, water pipes and other infrastruc­ture; and a sweeping industrial policy bill to spur domestic investment in advanced manufactur­ing sectors like semiconduc­tors and speed research and developmen­t to seed new industries.

Republican­s have accused the Biden administra­tion of fanning inflation by funneling too much federal money into the economy and have called for deep spending cuts and other fiscal changes.

Biden denounced those proposals, including a plan to replace federal income taxes with a national sales tax, curb safetynet spending and risk a government default by refusing to raise the federal borrowing limit without deep spending cuts. Why, he asked, “would Americans give up the progress we've made for the chaos they're suggesting?”

“I will not let anyone use the full faith and credit of the United States as a bargaining chip,” Biden said, reiteratin­g his refusal to negotiate over raising the debt limit. “The United States of America — we pay our debts.”

But the president also sought to reach out to working-class voters — in places like his native Scranton, Pennsylvan­ia — who have increasing­ly voted for Republican­s in recent elections. Biden said those voters had been left behind by U.S. economic policy in recent years, and he tried to woo them back by promising that his policies would continue to bring high-paying manufactur­ing jobs that do not require a college degree into the economy.

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