President Joe Biden talks to reporters during the first news conference of his presidency in the White House. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
- Biden said Republicans suddenly care about the national debt again, at a Thursday press conference.
- “I love the fact they found this whole idea of concern about the federal budget. It’s kind of amazing,” he said.
- Biden is expected to unveil a $3 trillion infrastructure plan next week.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
President Joe Biden took a swing at Republicans at his first press conference on Thursday, criticizing their opposition to more federal spending now that a Democrat is sitting in the White House.
“Did you hear them complain when they passed close to a $2 trillion Trump tax cut, 83% going to the top 1%?” he asked, referring to the share of benefits that flowed to the wealthiest Americans under former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cut (In 2018, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center projected 20.5% of the benefits would go to the top 1%).
That law passed via the reconciliation process, just as Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus did. The recent pandemic relief measure features expanded aid to parents, $1,400 direct payments to most taxpayers, and enhanced unemployment insurance.
He went on: “I love the fact they found this whole idea of concern about the federal budget. It’s kind of amazing. When the federal budget is saving people’s lives, they don’t think it’s such a good idea.”
The remarks illustrate some of the challenges that Biden faces as he presses ahead with the rest of his domestic agenda. Fresh off his first major legislative victory with a $1.9 trillion stimulus law, the president is now expected to unveil a $3 trillion infrastructure plan on Wednesday, referring to it as his “next major initiative.”
He said at the news conference he aims “to rebuild the infrastructure, both physical and technological infrastructure in this country, so we that can compete and create significant numbers of really good-paying jobs.”
It includes an initial bill focused on roads, bridges, and climate-related spending. The other would be geared at human infrastructure, including measures like universal pre-K, free community college, and a renewal of periodic cash payments for parents.
Biden appears to be betting on a groundswell of public support for his next major push in Congress.
“I still think the majority of the American people don’t like the fact we are now ranked 85th in the world in infrastructure,” he said. “The future rests on whether or not we have the best airports that can accommodate air travel, ports that you can get in and out quickly.”
However, Republicans are opposed to the tax hikes on multinational corporations and high-earning Americans that Democrats are seeking to finance it. “I don’t think there’s going to be any enthusiasm on our side for a tax increase,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week at a press conference.
Earlier today, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told NPR that the central bank is more concerned about ensuring an economic recovery than the national debt. He acknowledged the path of the debt is unsustainable, but its current level isn’t cause for major concern at this point.
Mar 25, 2021, 2:43 PM