By Trevor Hunnicutt
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden plans to unveil his upcoming budget proposal to Congress with unusual fanfare on Thursday, holding a campaign-style event intended to trumpet an economic agenda imperiled by high inflation and Republican debt limit threats.
Biden plans to roll out the tax-and-spending plans at a Philadelphia union hall, a venue in a competitive battleground state that will highlight the president’s worker-centric political pitch in the weeks running up to his expected announcement of a 2024 re-election bid.
“The President will deliver remarks on his plans to invest in America, continue to lower costs for families, protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, reduce the deficit, and more,” the White House said in a statement.
The main highlight of the proposal for the 2024 fiscal year is a pledge to cut $2 trillion from the government’s deficit over 10 years, and to extend the life of the Medicare health benefit program by at least two decades.
Biden is also planning to revive his plans to raise taxes on billionaires and to fund initiatives like a child tax credit. A proposal to raise payroll taxes on very high-income people is also on the table. But Biden is planning to stand by a 2020 campaign pledge not to raise rates on Americans making less than $400,000 a year.
“On March the 9th, I’m going to lay down in detail every single thing, every tax that’s out there that I’m proposing, and no one … making less than $400,000 is going to pay a penny more in taxes,” Biden told an audience in Virginia Beach, Virginia, last week.
“I want to make it clear: I’m gonna raise some taxes,” the Democratic president added.
Biden, under pressure from Republicans who are threatening not to raise the U.S. debt limit unless he agrees to sharp spending cuts, has challenged Republicans to release their own proposals and to negotiate over those plans rather than over whether the country should raise the debt ceiling and pay its existing bills.
An unprecedented U.S. default could halt growth in an economy that rebounded strongly in terms of output and jobs since the COVID-19 pandemic. Prices, too, have risen to levels that are seen as politically damaging, and economists worry that efforts led by the Federal Reserve to tamp down inflation pressures might spark a recession.
Biden aides regard union backing as well as success in Pennsylvania as critical to any re-election bid by Biden. Presidential budget roll-outs in other years are done at the White House and with no special events drawing attention to them. The venue for Biden’s remarks and his travel to Philadelphia have not previously been reported.
While Republican lawmakers have not yet fully outlined or voted on their spending plans for the coming fiscal year, the White House has nonetheless seized on some past statements and proposals by members of Congress as evidence that they are hell-bent on unraveling federal healthcare and old-age programs popular with voters.
Republicans control the House of Representatives while Democrats control the Senate.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason and Andrea Shalal; editing by Diane Craft)