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Biden Sharpens GOP Attack, Assailing Senator Scott’s ‘MAGA Agenda’

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(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden called again for Congress to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy to drive down the deficit, while sharpening his criticism of Republican economic policies, declaring they amount to a “MAGA agenda.”

In remarks at the White House on Wendesday ahead of an anticipated interest-rate hike by the Federal Reserve, Biden broadly painted GOP proposals as in-line with the Make America Great Again ethos championed by former President Donald Trump. 

The president has sought to sharpen contrasts between Republican plans and his own stalled economic agenda six months ahead of November midterm elections that will decide control of Congress for the final two years of his first term.

“It’s a MAGA agenda. Meanwhile, millionaires and billionaires and corporations skate by,” Biden said Wednesday, targeting a proposal by Florida Senator Rick Scott, who chairs Senate Republicans’ campaign organization.

“Imagine that. Just imagine that. I think it is truly outrageous,” Biden added.

The White House tried to spotlight Scott’s plan as emblematic of the GOP approach, even though other top Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have distanced themselves from it. Biden said Scott’s proposal would raise taxes for 75 million American families, more than 95% of which earn less than $100,000 a year.

“It’s extreme, as most MAGA things are,” Biden said.

He touted his own economic policies, which he credited for a $350 billion reduction in the deficit during his first year in office. 

“Looking ahead, I have a plan to reduce the deficit even more, which will help reduce inflationary pressures and lower everyone’s costs,” he said, citing elements of his stalled “Build Back Better” economic legislation.

Biden spoke as investors are bracing for the Fed to hike interest rates the most since 2000 — a move intended to fight inflation that’s hit a four-decade high. The Federal Open Market Committee will issue its statement at 2 p.m. in Washington.

The White House shifted the timing of Biden’s remarks from 2 p.m. to 11 a.m. on Wednesday to avoid conflicting with the Fed announcement.

Read more: Dimon Says Federal Reserve Should Have Raised Rates Sooner

As prices of gasoline, food and other consumer goods have increased, Biden has increasingly stressed deficit reduction while trying to blame inflation on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The White House’s focus on the deficit is targeted at West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and other moderate Democrats whose support is key to Biden’s economic agenda. 

Read more: Biden Reframes Agenda With a Manchin Spin, Touting Deficit Cuts

Manchin blocked “Build Back Better” in December and has insisted that any revised plan — including higher corporate taxes, climate-change measures and prescription drug reform  — must cut the deficit.

The administration projects the deficit will fall by more than $1.5 trillion this year.

Meanwhile, Biden is pressing Congress to provide $33 billion more for Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion, in addition to $22.5 billion he previously requested for continued purchases of vaccines and therapeutics to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lawmakers failed to strike an agreement on Covid funding earlier this year, and the administration has said money is running short.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

Biden Sharpens GOP Attack, Assailing Senator Scott’s ‘MAGA Agenda’

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