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President Biden on Wednesday tore into Republicans’ economic agenda, saying their policies will pile on to the nation’s already staggering debt.

Speaking in Lanham, Maryland, Mr. Biden contrasted his plan to reduce annual federal budget deficits with Republican policies, telling the friendly crowd of union workers that there was only one clear choice.

He asserted that his budget proposal, which will be released next month, would cut the deficit by $2 trillion over 10 years, but Republican plans would add another $3 trillion to the debt over the next decade.

“It’s a stark contrast to our Republican friends who are doubling down on the same failed politics of the past. Top-down, trickle-down economics is not much trickle down, as I said, in most kitchen tables in America,” Mr. Biden said.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel pushed back on Mr. Biden’s remarks, saying he’s the one responsible for soaring inflation and rising prices.

“Americans know Joe Biden and the Democrat Party are responsible for falling wages, skyrocketing prices, and the rising cost to feed a family. No amount of lying or ducking blame from Biden and the Democrats will cover the burden they have placed on American families,” she said in a statement.

The White House says it reached the $3 trillion calculation by adding up a series of bills proposed by the GOP-led House. Those bills include one that would rescind funding for the IRS to add new employees, another proposal that would repeal Mr. Biden’s massive climate, health, and tax law and legislation that would extend Trump-era tax cuts on the wealthy.

Mr. Biden questioned Wednesday whether Republicans will stand behind their pledge that they won’t cut Social Security and Medicare. And he questioned whether they can lower the deficit without doing that.

“Where are they going to cut?” the president said. “Are they going to cut Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act? Are they going to cut Social Security or Medicare, veterans’ benefits, aid to farmers? At the State of the Union, they seemed to say that they’re not going to cut Social Security and Medicare. OK, great. I hope that’s true. But how are they going to make these numbers add up?”

The federal government is already starting to take steps to prevent default after the country hit the debt ceiling last month. On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office said the government won’t be able to fully pay its obligations sometime between July and September unless Congress reaches a deal on the debt limit.

Mr. Biden has called for raising the debt limit, noting that Republicans did it three times under former President Trump.

“If we paid America’s bills then, why don’t we pay them now?” Mr. Biden asked. “If we couldn’t throw the country into a crisis then, why would you want to throw it into a crisis now? They would inflict pain on the American people.”

He said Republicans won’t raise the debt limit because of “politics,” and “they’ve got no business playing politics with people’s lives and the full faith and credit of the United States.”

Republicans have refused to raise the $31.4 trillion U.S. debt limit unless Mr. Biden agrees to slash government spending. The White House has said it will discuss such measures only after the debt ceiling is lifted.

GOP lawmakers have argued that federal spending is too high and fueling inflation while raising the U.S. debt level. Mr. Biden has pushed back on those claims, saying their plans, including prolonging Trump-era tax cuts and cutting the corporate minimum tax, could send the national debt north.

A White House fact sheet says keeping the Trump tax plan would reduce taxes by $175,000 for families with incomes over $4 million, which is roughly double the median U.S. household income.

The same fact sheet says Mr. Biden wants to preserve some of the tax cuts as part of his campaign pledge not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000.

Yet if Mr. Biden is willing to keep tax cuts on the table and neither he nor the GOP leadership has proposed cutting entitlements, it’s unclear how the deficit will get reduced under his plan.

Mr. Biden has recently boasted that his policies slashed more than $1.7 trillion from the deficit, claiming it’s the largest reduction in U.S. history.

The deficit did drop by $1.7 trillion under Mr. Biden’s watch, but the primary reason was that the government stopped dolling out COVID-19 pandemic relief funds. As that spending — which sent the deficit to record-high levels under President Trump — stopped, the deficit started to fall.

Mr. Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have only a few months to reach a deal on raising the government’s authority to borrow money, or it could default on its bills.
In a speech Tuesday, Mr. Biden described Mr. McCarthy as a “good guy” with a “tough job,” but insisted the House speaker won’t budge on raising taxes and wants to only cut programs.

“I believe we could be fiscally responsible without risking — threatening to send our country into chaos,” Mr. Biden said.

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