Biden tells reconciliation bill holdouts they can either side with him or against the middle class
President Joe Biden unveiled a negotiating strategy Thursday to galvanize support among Democratic holdouts for his multitrillion-dollar budget reconciliation proposal.
White House officials told the Washington Examiner the new strategy would present the vote as a fork in the road: Members can either protect the current economic status quo or extend a hand to the middle class.
One official added the president's spending agenda, nearly $3 trillion of which would be funded by raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, is not about penalizing the rich but lowering "the cost of raising a child, of prescription drugs, of taking care of an aging parent, of healthcare, of high-speed internet, and of hearing aids."
Biden's new framing comes as centrist Democrats, including Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, continue to voice concerns over the full scope of the "Build Back Better" package that currently totals $3.5 trillion, in addition to the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package.
"I believe we are at an inflection point in this country. One of those moments where the decisions we’re about to make can change — literally change — the trajectory of our nation for years and possibly decades to come," the president said during a speech at the White House. "Each inflection point in this nation’s history represents a fundamental choice. I believe that America at this moment is facing such a choice, and the choice is this: Are we going to continue with an economy where the overwhelming share of the benefits go to big corporations and the very wealthy, or are we going to take this moment right now to set this country on a new path? One that invests in this nation, creates real sustained economic growth, and that benefits everyone, including working people and middle-class folks? That’s something we haven’t realized in this country for decades."
"This is an opportunity to be the nation that we know we can be, a nation where all of us — all of us, not just those at the top — are getting a share of the benefits of a growing economy in the years ahead," he concluded. "Let’s not squander this moment trying to preserve an economy that hasn’t worked too well for Americans for a long time. Let’s not look backward just trying to rebuild what we had. Let’s look forward together as one America, not to build back but to build back better."
Assuming no Republicans vote "yay" on budget reconciliation, Biden will need all 50 Democratic votes to send the bill to his desk. Administration officials confirmed the president's Wednesday meetings with both Manchin and Sinema were to discuss a "path forward" on the $3.5 trillion package.
"Today's meeting was productive, and Kyrsten is continuing to work in good faith with her colleagues and President Biden as this legislation develops," a spokesman for Sinema's office said Wednesday evening.
Still, junior Democratic Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly also recently stopped short of fully endorsing Biden's plan, though not to the same extent as Manchin and Sinema.
"What matters to me is the details," he told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. "What are we buying, and then how are we paying for it? But our country still has needs beyond physical infrastructure."
Meanwhile, some Republican groups have not only praised Manchin and Sinema for standing up to what GOP officials call "dangerously reckless" spending but are also launching new multimillion ad campaigns against Biden's landmark bill.
America First Policy Institute, a nonprofit organization founded by former Trump administration Director of the Domestic Policy Council Brooke Rollins, plans to pour $10 million into ads opposing BBB in Arizona, West Virginia, and other purple states. A senior AFPI official told the Washington Examiner that roughly 100 conservative groups across the country are expected to contribute to the initiative, including Freedom Works, the Conservative Partnership Institute, and the Committee to Unleash Prosperity.
"The Biden economic agenda is designed with one goal in mind — to remake America and the principles upon which our nation was founded," she told the Washington Post . "These policies threaten American prosperity, small businesses, the economic health of every American family, and our standing in the world."
Kaelan Dorr, an AFPI spokesman, told the Washington Examiner the Biden administration is "actively undermining the incredible economic gains we saw under the previous administration and has done nothing but gaslight the American people who are living and breathing the impact of his disastrous agenda on a daily basis."
"He provides no solutions. He simply provides commentary that is being fed to him via teleprompter," Dorr added. "The American people should hope for a curtain call on this disaster of an administration because no matter how often he tries to change the rules or redefine success, the American people will remember this when they go to vote."
Missouri Republican Rep. Jason Smith similarly claimed the budget reconciliation package would "[unleash] the most reckless tax & spending plan in U.S. history. They are fueling inflation, which is driving up prices and crippling family budgets."
"All of this to reward billions to wealthy environmentalists and provide tax breaks to the top 1%," he said in a statement provided to the Washington Examiner. " As CBO recently confirmed, inflation is here, and the higher prices it brings is eroding the wages of the working class."
A White House spokesman claimed these attacks are evidence Biden is advancing his campaign promise to pursue economic equity.
"President Biden was elected decisively last year on a promise to rebuild the middle class by putting places like Scranton ahead of Wall Street and Park Avenue — and, unlike his predecessor, he’s delivering on that with an economic plan that will cut taxes and lower prices for working families by asking multinational corporations and the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share,” White House spokesman Mike Gwin said in a statement. "It’s a badge of honor that those same wealthy interests are now attacking President Biden as he advances his plan to invest in the middle class and lower prices on essentials like prescription drugs and health care."
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