Washington, Mar 9 (EFE).- President Joe Biden on Thursday presented a budget bill for 2024 designed to appeal to the working class by including tax increases on the rich and more funding for social programs.
The president offered details about his budget proposal, approval of which is up to Congress, in a speech at a union headquarters in Philadelphia, with Pennsylvania being a key state in any national election.
“My budget reflects what we can do to lift the burden on hardworking Americans,” said Biden in his speech on a stage featuring slogans in the background such as “Investing in America” and “Union Strong.”
The president promised his audience of union workers that he will keep fighting for them and said that there is still work that his administration needs to accomplish on their behalf.
“I just laid out the bulk of my budget. Republicans in Congress should do the same thing. Then we can sit down and see where we disagree,” said Biden, referring to the fact that GOP lawmakers, despite their criticism of the Democratic administration’s budget, have not made public any budget plan of their own.
However, the president said he doubted whether Republican legislators could get any budget figures of their own to coincide with their demands for a “balanced budget,” suggesting that middle-class families would have to bear the brunt of any efforts to do so.
“How are they going to make the math work?” Biden asked rhetorically. “What are they going to cut?”
The budget is a reflection of Biden’s political priorities, although he has not yet officially announced a 2024 reelection bid, something that he is expected to do in the coming days, however.
The main idea the president emphasized in his address was raising taxes on the wealthy and ending subsidies for energy and pharmaceutical companies, as well as for the cryptocurrency sector, with the aim of funding greater social spending, all at the same time that he plans to reduce the public debt by $3 trillion over the next decade.
Biden is seeking to collect $4.7 trillion in higher taxes, including a tax hike for people earning more than $400,000 per year, in what would be a partial reversal of the tax reform that substantially cut taxes on the rich and on businesses approved under the Republican Donald Trump administration in 2017.
In his budget proposal, the president asked Congress to approve about $6.8 trillion in government spending, $600 billion more than the $6.2 trillion lawmakers approved last year.
Biden’s proposal includes more than $1 trillion in funding for housing, Medicaid and investments in education for young children to ensure that the four million kids under age 4 in the US can attend school or day care free of charge.
The president also wants to collect enough taxes so that the Medicare system can remain healthy for another 25 years.
In addition, the budget seeks to reduce the price of medications, increase funding for university scholarships and restore a tax credit that would provide each family with $3,600 per child per year, a measure that is very popular among Americans given that the current per-child tax credit is $2,000 per year.
Most of the budget bill’s text is devoted to social programs, although there are also parts dealing with foreign policy with special focus on China and the war in Ukraine.
Trying to broker approval of the budget bill for Fiscal Year 2024 (which runs from Oct. 1, 2023, through Sept. 30, 2024) has often been seen as the start of negotiations between the president and Congress, the only entity with the authority to approve US budgetary spending.
The 182-page budget bill has already been rejected by Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who in a statement criticized the plan to invest in social programs as “leftist” and “unserious.”
Republican lawmakers have accused Biden of spending excessively and have been threatening for months to block raising the public debt ceiling – that is, threatening not to approve funding to pay for costs already incurred by the US government – a move that would push the US into default on its national debt for the first time ever.
In January, the US national debt surpassed $31.4 trillion and the administration estimates that it will find itself without approved funding to pay its debts sometime between July and September.
Biden, in his budget, did not address any of the spending cuts called for by Republicans and, in fact, called for increasing the funding for many social programs.