President Biden‘s latest pledge of bipartisanship lasted roughly three weeks as he savaged House Republicans’ economic agenda Thursday in his second major speech of the year.
“Why in God’s name would Americans give up the progress we’ve made for the chaos they’re suggesting? I don’t get it,” Mr. Biden said in remarks from a steamfitters union hall in Springfield, Virginia. “The MAGA Republicans deliberately chose to inflict this kind of pain on the American people. Why?”
Mr. Biden‘s searing rebuke was a sharp contrast to his first speech earlier this month when he stood alongside Republican lawmakers in Kentucky and promised bipartisanship would be his theme for 2023.
He told Americans that both sides need to “drop our egos” and get things done.
That bipartisanship pledge lasted until Mr. Biden‘s next speech in which he labeled the House GOP’s agenda a threat to the economy and working class. He characterized their economic proposals as a disaster that would send jobs overseas, raise gas prices, worsen inflation, and cut Social Security and Medicare.
Mr. Biden tore into a fringe Republican proposal to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and replace it with a national 30% sales tax.
“Who do you think is going to get ripped off?” Mr. Biden said. “They want to raise taxes on working to middle-class people by passing the national sales tax, taxing everything from groceries, gasoline, clothing, supplies, medicine — even big ticket items like rent and cars.”
“Do they think this is going to help with inflation? You’ve got to be kidding me?” he continued.
The legislation sponsored by Rep. Earl Carter, Georgia Republican, doesn’t have support among Republican leadership. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, told reporters this week that he opposes abolishing the income tax, and with it the IRS, and replacing it with a national sales tax.
Still, Mr. Biden used the measure as a cudgel to hammer Republicans and paint their proposals as extremist and out of touch with mainstream America.
The speech coincided with the release of bright economic news, as a report released Thursday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis showed the country’s gross domestic product — the broadest measure of economic activity — expanded last quarter by 2.9% on an annual basis.
Mr. Biden argued that Americans are starting to see the benefits from economic achievements, including the bipartisan infrastructure law, a bipartisan bill that increases investment in semiconductor chip manufacturing and his massive climate, tax and health law.
“We have more work to do, but we’re on the right track,” Mr. Biden said. “Roads and bridges are being built; factories are coming along; people are back to work; families are breathing just a little bit easier.”
Despite Mr. Biden‘s boasts, it’s still too early to tell how much his legislative victories have affected the economy.
His computer chip law has spurred overseas investment in the U.S., but those factories are still in the early stages. Funds have been doled out from Mr. Biden‘s infrastructure law, but shovels haven’t hit the ground on most projects.
Americans have yet to see the benefit of cheaper prescription drug prices because Mr. Biden‘s tax, climate and health package allows Medicare to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies for 10 drugs in 2026 and 20 by 2029.
Mr. Biden also announced the creation of an “Invest in America” Cabinet, which will be tasked with implementing his economic agenda and generating private sector investment.
The group will include Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, EPA Administrator Michael Regan, Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu, and senior adviser John Podesta.