President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Republicans’ ideas for cutting the budget could undermine U.S. manufacturing and help China dominate the world economy. Speaking at a semiconductor maker in North Carolina to highlight his own policies, Biden is trying to shape public sentiment as he faces off with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, about whether the federal government should raise its legal borrowing capacity.
McCarthy sent a letter Tuesday saying that talks should start about possible spending cuts in return for the debt limit increase. Biden has said Republicans need to put forth their own budget plan before negotiations start. Without an agreement, the federal government could default on its financial obligations.
The president tried to ratchet up pressure on Tuesday by saying that the GOP demands on the budget would only empower China, the country’s key geopolitical rival. Being tough on China has been a core part of the identity of former president Donald Trump, who is seeking to return to the White House in 2024, and his Make America Great Again movement. The Democratic president said their objections to his policies would instead strengthen China.
“It would mean ceding the future of innovation and technology to China,” Biden told the crowd. “I’ve got news for you and for MAGA Republicans in Congress: not on my watch. We’re not going to let them undo all the progress we made.”
Biden’s trip to Wolfspeed follows the Durham-based company announcing plans last September to build a $5 billion manufacturing facility in Chatham County that is expected to create 1,800 new jobs. Biden had won passage last July of a $280 billion legislative package known as the CHIPS Act, which was intended to boost the U.S. semiconductor industry and scientific research.
It’s nothing new for the Biden administration to highlight the CHIPS Act, the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill, the $1 trillion infrastructure legislation and a roughly $375 billion climate bill — major legislation that the Democratic administration steered into law before Democrats lost control of the House.
But now, just weeks after Biden unveiled his own budget — it includes $2.6 trillion in new spending — his administration is looking for chances to lean into its battle with Republicans over spending priorities and who has better ideas to steward the U.S. economy in the years to come. Republicans have rejected Biden’s budget but have yet to unveil their own counteroffer to the Democrats’ blueprint, which is built around tax increases on the wealthy and a vision statement of sorts for Biden’s yet-to-be-declared campaign for reelection in 2024.
His trip is part of a larger effort to draw attention to his policies, which have been overshadowed by high inflation.
Besides Biden’s visit to Wolfspeed, Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden and other senior administration officials will fan out to 20 states over the next three weeks to highlight the impact of Biden’s economic agenda, according to the White House.
Biden has said he intends to run for a second term but has yet to formally launch his reelection campaign.
His effort to highlight legislative victories could also give him an opportunity to present voters with images of an administration focused on governing as Trump braces for a possible indictment.
Trump is being investigated over payments during his 2016 campaign to two women who alleged affairs or sexual encounters with him. The ex-president denies being involved with either of the women — porn actor Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal.
Trump narrowly won North Carolina in 2020. Among the other states that Biden and administration officials will be visiting in the weeks ahead are Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Wisconsin — crucial battlegrounds that Biden won in 2020 and states expected to be competitive again in 2024.
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