President Joe Biden on Thursday attacked some Republican lawmakers for their stances in the debt-limit standoff, while also criticizing GOP proposals focused on sales taxes and the Medicare and Social Security programs.
“We’ve got to protect those gains that our policies have generated — protect them from the MAGA Republicans in the House of Representatives who are threatening to destroy this progress,” Biden said, as he spoke before a steamfitters union in Springfield, Va.
In blasting potential changes to Social Security and Medicare, the president appeared to be referring to Oklahoma GOP Rep. Kevin Hern’s remark this week that there’s “no choice but to make hard decisions,” though House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said there won’t be cuts to those entitlement programs.
Biden also disparaged a GOP plan for a 30% national sales tax that would replace income taxes and other levies but has little chance of becoming law.
“And beyond that they’re actually threatening to have us default on American debt,” the president added.
House Republicans have been calling for combining cuts to federal spending with raising the debt limit, while the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress have maintained that the ceiling for federal borrowing should be raised without conditions.
McCarthy said Tuesday in a Fox Business interview that it’s “just irresponsible of the president not to sit down to negotiate.”
“Let’s start communicating now and find where we can eliminate the waste, find the common places we can get together and have a responsible debt ceiling that’s lifted, but puts us on a path to make us financially stronger,” the California Republican said.
The White House has said Biden looks forward to meeting with McCarthy but hasn’t disclosed a date for any meeting.
Related: Debt-limit fix should come from McCarthy and Biden, says McConnell
And see: U.S. runs up against its debt limit, so Treasury starts using ‘extraordinary measures’: Here’s what that means
Plus: Debt-limit standoff: Here are the Washington players you need to know about
Ahead of Biden’s speech, the White House billed the address as focused on the country’s economic progress since the president took office, but said he’d also criticize House GOP proposals.
The president’s remarks came as fourth-quarter data showed robust 2.9% growth but economists expect a slowdown in the current quarter. Some economists even think the U.S. is already in recession.
Read more: U.S. economy grew a sturdy 2.9% at the end of 2022, GDP shows, but don’t look for a repeat soon
The White House pushed back on Wednesday when asked about job cuts in the tech
sectors, as well as recession concerns.
“We understand the fears,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, but she added that it’s also important to look at economic data that indicate layoffs are at low levels and inflation is coming down.
“There is again data out there that shows that the economy is growing,” she told reporters during a daily briefing.
Last Friday, Biden touted his administration’s achievements while marking two years in office and speaking before a bipartisan group of mayors at the White House.
The president is due to give the State of the Union address on Feb. 7.
closed higher Thursday afternoon, as fourth-quarter gross domestic product came in slightly stronger than expected. The S&P 500
is up about 6% so far this year after the gauge dived 19% in 2022, hit by the Federal Reserve hiking interest rates in an effort to tame high inflation.