President Biden on Wednesday touted his party’s legislative success in the first two years of his administration and urged House Democrats to spend the next two years making sure voters are aware of it too.
As the keynote speaker on the opening day of House Democrats’ annual issues conference in Baltimore, the president ticked through a list of accomplishments in the first half of his term: passage of the American Rescue Plan, Inflation Reduction Act, bipartisan infrastructure law, Chips and Science Act, a narrow gun bill and marriage equality.
In addition, he pointed to a 3.4% unemployment rate, 12 million new jobs, seven months of falling inflation, a significant drop in gasoline prices from its pandemic peak and an economy that has steadily grown.
“Folks, you all know how much we’ve gotten done, but a lot of the country still doesn’t know it,” Biden said. “That’s why the big job in front of us is implementing the laws we’ve passed so people start to see it in their lives — all the benefits that are there because you produced it for them. You stepped up and got it done.”
Biden stressed that there’s more to do, including passing police reform, immigration reform, voting rights legislation, codifying a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and rewriting the tax code — all things unlikely to go anywhere in the new era of divided government with Republicans controlling the House and Democrats running the Senate.
“Look, I know as well as you the MAGA Republicans are not going to get on board for most of these things, but that leaves a lot of Republicans that are still left,” Biden said.
House Republicans, however, are instead focusing on their own legislative priorities and using their new committee gavels to launch investigations into the administration.
One issue House Republicans must eventually work with Democrats on is raising the debt limit to avoid a U.S. default on its debt. Biden, who met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) at the White House this year to discuss the debt limit, has challenged Republicans to show him exactly where they want to make spending cuts to reduce the deficit.
Biden, who is set to release his annual budget proposal next week, said it will reduce the deficit by $2 trillion over the next decade.
He criticized Republicans for playing politics with the nation’s credit rating, particularly after voting three times to raise the debt limit during the Trump administration without demanding spending cuts.
“We’re not going to sit here and be lectured by those folks about fiscal responsibility. Nearly 25% of the entire national debt, which over took over 200 years to accumulate — nearly 25% was added by my predecessor in four years,” Biden said. “They’re sure not acting like the party that cares about fiscal responsibility.”
McCarthy has said he won’t raise taxes to reduce the deficit, and House Republicans have promised that cuts to Medicare and Social Security are also off the table.
“During the State of the Union I was pleased to see so many Republicans stand up when I asked them to join us in rejecting cuts to Social Security,” Biden said. “I’ve been to a lot of State of the Unions and never quite saw one like that. But they all stood up. The interesting thing is they won’t be able to forget — it’s all on camera.”