Biden’s budget hits Trump and GOP for being ‘fiscally reckless’

President Joe Biden used his official budget request as a campaign leaflet, taking a first-term victory lap and calling out Donald Trump by name.

In sending the annual budget request to Congress on Monday, Biden accused Trump and Republicans of “deliberately” hiding the cost of tax cuts to corporations and multi-millionaires. And the president made clear that he’s staking his reelection pitch on economic recovery four years after the Covid pandemic, looking to build on investments in national security while tackling student loan debt, housing and child care affordability, as well as a looming Social Security cliff.

“We have to acknowledge that the president is transparent — detailed every way he is going to show he values the American people,” White House budget director Shalanda Young told reporters. “Congressional Republicans hid behind high-level talking points about balancing. Well, who are you hurting in the meantime? What are you cutting?”

The budget request is Biden’s last major chance to showcase his policy and spending ambitions before facing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in November. And it’s a high-stakes sales pitch, as voters’ perceptions of the current economy don’t match Biden’s triumphant talking points. While the new fiscal year kicks off on Oct. 1 — before U.S. voters head to the polls to pick their next president — Congress is likely to punt major government funding decisions until after Election Day, which means Biden’s latest budget request is even more of a political messaging exercise than usual.

And the Republican bashing isn’t subtle.

The blueprint knocks the GOP for tax cuts for the wealthy ushered in by the 2017 GOP tax law, insisting that Biden inherited a “fiscally irresponsible legacy” and that Trump, along with congressional Republicans, have tried to obscure how much their proposals have contributed to the federal deficit, in “one of the most egregious and fiscally reckless budget decisions in modern history.”

It also draws a sharp contrast with Republicans, who administration officials say are hellbent on slashing critical programs and benefits. It would pour $7.7 billion into fully funding federal nutrition assistance for women, infants and children, after GOP leaders recently fought against a $1 billion increase for the program, wanting to make that funding conditional on tougher food aid restrictions.

Overall, Biden’s proposal outlines more than $1.6 trillion in base discretionary funding for the coming fiscal year, largely in line with the funding limits established by the debt deal that he negotiated last summer with former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. At the same time, the plan aims to reduce the deficit by $3 trillion over a decade, raising tax rates on large corporations, cracking down on fraud and requiring billionaires to pay at least 25 percent of their income on taxes, among other revenue-raising measures.

Congress is likely to largely ignore the proposed budget, as usual, especially as lawmakers are still trying to finish spending bills for the remainder of the current fiscal year. Lawmakers still have yet to fund about 70 percent of the government thanks to months of House Republican infighting and partisan sniping. It’s highly unlikely Congress would be able to fund the government on time for the new fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1, as lawmakers hurtle toward a November election that will decide control of the House, Senate and the White House next year.

House Republicans recently passed their own budget proposal out of committee, a plan that aims to reduce the deficit by $14 trillion over a decade, relying on both detailed and some vague plans for spending cuts. It also includes some optimistic economic assumptions.

At the same time, GOP lawmakers are pushing for the creation of a fiscal commission tasked with writing a bill to stop the national debt from growing as a share of the economy. Congress would be forced to vote on the commission’s final proposal, including potential cuts to entitlement programs like Social Security, tax increases, spending cuts or some combinations.

After committing during his State of the Union address last week to “stop” anyone in Congress who tries to raise the retirement age for Social Security benefits, Biden’s budget calls for instead raising taxes on high earners to keep Medicare and Social Security from hitting insolvency within the next decade.

“As the president has made clear,” the budget reads, “he will reject any efforts to cut or undermine the Medicare or Social Security benefits that seniors and people with disabilities have earned and paid into their entire working lives.”

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