- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2022

The White House will use the August recess to argue that President Biden and Democratic allies “beat the special interests” and delivered results on climate change and health care while rewarding work and not wealth.

Mr. Biden‘s team will say his pressure on oil companies led to lower gas prices, trumpet a bipartisan overhaul of gun laws and lay claim to “one of the most productive Congresses in history” despite GOP opposition on Capitol Hill.

“The president and congressional Democrats beat the special interests and delivered what was best for the American people,” a White House memo from senior aides Kate Bedingfield and Anita Dunn said Thursday. “Every step of the way, congressional Republicans sided with the special interests — pushing an extreme MAGA agenda that costs families.”

The White House is claiming victories after a successful week in Washington. Still, a difficult midterm season lies ahead.

Soaring costs for food and everyday goods have dragged down Mr. Biden‘s presidency and approval numbers, and the GOP is confident it can retake the House majority. The Democrats could also lose their razor-thin majority in the Senate.

The administration is trying to shift the narrative in their favor. Mr. Biden recently ordered a strike that took out an al Qaeda leader and secured a major deal with centrists in his party that takes long-awaited action on climate change, establishes a minimum tax on corporations and — for the first time — allows Medicare to negotiate down the prices of some prescription drugs.

The wins allowed Mr. Biden to head for a South Carolina vacation with a spring in his step after two years of unrelenting crises, from the chaotic military exit from Afghanistan to waves of the coronavirus.

Average gas prices this week tipped below $4 per gallon across the country, and a new economic report suggests inflation is still elevated but lower than the 41-year high of 9.1% reached in June.

It remains to be seen whether progress will be enough to buoy Mr. Biden‘s allies at the November ballot box. For now, the White House is trying to promote the president as a champion for the little guy.

The August messaging memo said Mr. Biden and Democrats are “defeating Big Pharma” through price negotiation and reining in profitable corporations that have “gotten away with paying no federal income taxes for years.”

It said the bipartisan gun overhaul in the wake of horrific mass shootings broke through opposition from the National Rifle Association and that Mr. Biden held oil companies’ “feet to the fire” to deliver lower prices, though economists point to lower demand as a key driver of the decrease.

“For years, special interests have blocked action to address the climate crisis and limit investment in clean energy,” the memo said. “This week, finally, the president and congressional Democrats are taking aggressive action on climate by investing in energy security made in America by American workers and lowering energy costs for working families.”

The climate actions were a major part of the Inflation Reduction Act the Senate passed on a party-line vote over the weekend. It is expected to clear the House and reach Mr. Biden‘s desk.

Mr. Biden said the bill will lower the costs of health care and other goods. Republicans say it will end up doing the opposite by overheating the economy while inflicting new burdens on Americans through higher taxes.

“Americans cannot afford gas or groceries, yet Democrats cheer for more spending and taxes on families. Biden and Democrats poured gasoline on the inflation fire by raising taxes during a recession, and voters will put an end to their reckless rule in November,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Wednesday upon release of the Consumer Price Index report.

The president plans to hit back by saying the GOP is a threat to entitlement programs and Obamacare subsidies and will restrict or eliminate abortion access after the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. He will blast Republicans for voting against a measure that would cap insulin costs for everyone at $35 a month and insist that an “assault weapons” ban is popular despite Republican opposition.

“This is the choice before the American people: President Biden and Congressional Democrats taking on special interests for you and your family,” the White House memo said. “Or Congressional Republicans’ extreme, MAGA agenda that serves the wealthiest, corporations and themselves.”

The White House on Thursday specifically highlighted comments from Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican facing reelection, that suggested Medicare and Social Security should be reviewed each year as discretionary spending instead of mandatory entitlement spending.

“We ought to turn everything into discretionary spending so it’s all evaluated, so we can fix problems or fix programs that are broken, that are going to be going bankrupt,” Mr. Johnson told “The Regular Joe Show” earlier this month.

Democrats seized on the comments as proof that Republicans want to pull the rug out from under seniors.

Mr. Johnson’s office told news outlets the senator does not want to cut the programs but would like greater oversight of them so they remain fiscally healthy over the long run.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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