Biden aims to soothe moderates' concerns with spending plan pitch
President Biden on Wednesday sought to tamp down concerns about adding to the national debt or increasing inflation as he made the case for enacting a multitrillion-dollar spending plan that would invest in health care, education, home care and child care, among other sectors.
Biden delivered a speech outlining the basics of his "Build Back Better" plan hours after Senate Democrats approved a $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that includes the basic spending plan Democrats will seek to enact in the coming weeks through the reconciliation process, meaning they will not need a single GOP vote.
The president seemed to explicitly address the concerns of moderate senators like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who has already expressed some reluctance about the size of the proposal and how it will add to the national debt.
"Now, there’s been a lot of misleading talk, which is no surprise I guess, about what I’m proposing in my 'Build Back Better' agenda," Biden said. "It’s not a short-term stimulus. It’s a long-term investment in American families."
Biden made the distinction that the reconciliation package, paired with a bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in the Senate on Tuesday, are long-term investments that will be spent over the next decade, not a one-time infusion of money that could spike inflation in the near term.
The larger spending proposal would only account for roughly 1 percent of the U.S. economy each year for the next decade, Biden argued, and will be fully paid for.
"This isn’t going to be anything like my predecessor, whose unpaid tax cuts and other spending added nearly $8 trillion in his four years to the national debt," Biden said, swiping at former President Trump.
Biden has said the reconciliation package will be funded through increasing taxes on large corporations that have skirted taxes in the past, as well as on the wealthiest Americans. The White House has repeatedly pledged not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 per year.
"If your primary concern right now is the cost of living, you should support this plan, not oppose it," Biden said. "I am committed to making sure that our historic economic recovery reaches everyone ... and eases the burden on working families not just this year but for the years to come."
The budget resolution passed early Wednesday morning includes few details or directions to lawmakers about what to include in their spending package, but a memo on the plan sent to Democratic offices said that it's expected to include a swath of the party's top priorities, including immigration reform, universal pre-K, expanding Medicare and combating climate change.
To pass the resolution, all 50 Senate Democrats will need to be united in support, as Republicans have made clear they will oppose the plan.
Manchin said Wednesday that he has "serious concerns" about spending $3.5 trillion on a massive package that Democrats want to pass later this year.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has already signaled that she won't support a $3.5 trillion price tag and will try to shrink the spending package as Democrats draft and negotiate it in the weeks and months ahead.
The Senate on Tuesday voted 69-30 to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill that would invest $1 trillion over the next eight years. Both that legislation and the reconciliation piece must also pass the House.