President BidenJoe BidenHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue Pelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system MORE is trying to return the focus to his economic agenda as the White House ratchets up its messaging effort on the massive spending package that’s now being subject to a messy fight in Congress.
On three separate occasions Monday, Biden described his economic agenda as the solution to addressing the dire threat from climate change during a trip out West to Idaho and California.
“We can’t ignore the reality that these wildfires are being supercharged by climate change,” Biden said during remarks in Mather, Calif., after surveilling the damage from that area’s fire. “It isn’t about red or blue states. It’s about fires. Just fires.”
“Each dollar we invest in resilience saves up to six dollars down the road,” Biden said. “Those investments also save lives.”
Biden is also scheduled to speak about his economic agenda and its effect on climate change during an appearance in Denver on Tuesday.
Biden’s three-state swing through Idaho, California and Colorado represents his first official trip out West since taking office in January.
It’s also the first time in more than a month that Biden has dedicated a trip to focusing on aspects of his economic agenda — to include both the bipartisan infrastructure deal and the social spending package Democrats intend to pass without Republicans through budget reconciliation. Biden is also appearing alongside California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomCalifornia to replace 'alien' with 'noncitizen,' 'immigrant' in state laws The Memo: Trump's Arizona embarrassment sharpens questions for GOP California to launch program tracking violent deaths in LGBTQ+ community MORE (D) at a campaign event Monday evening.
Over the past several weeks, Biden has instead been gripped by other crises, including the pandemic, Afghanistan and severe hurricanes, which eclipsed efforts by the administration to promote his agenda.
Biden’s speech in Sacramento expanded on a narrative he planted in New York last week while surveying the damage in the northeast caused by Hurricane Ida: That climate change represents a “code red” emergency.
The White House distributed a memo to reporters highlighting $50 billion in the infrastructure bill that would go toward making infrastructure more resilient in the face of climate change and other threats. Over the last decade, California experienced 16 “extreme weather events,” the memo said, costing as much $100 billion in damages.
“The reality is, we have a global warming problem. A serious global warming problem,” Biden said during a wildfire briefing at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise earlier Monday afternoon. “My message to you is, when we build back, we have to build back better. It’s not a Democrat thing, it’s not a Republican thing, it’s a weather thing. It’s a reality. It’s serious. And we can do this.”
The Senate returned to Washington on Monday after a weeks-long recess and the House is poised to come back next week. House lawmakers last week began marking up parts of the budget plan, a sweeping package that is expected to include universal pre-kindergarten, tax cuts for child care, health care and renewable energy, and funding for a “civilian climate corps.”
The administration is trying to overcome the difficulty of selling a package so large by hammering home the message that Biden’s agenda is one that will help middle class families.
“The challenge is to describe how broad and sweeping the changes are without getting into a laundry list of the specifics,” said Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist and former top aide to former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTo Build Back Better, we need a tax system where everyone pays their fair share Democrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fight Biden looks to climate to sell economic agenda MORE (D-Nev.). “I think they’ve done a good job.”
The White House sent a memo to Democratic House communications directors last week that zeroed in on three aspects of Biden’s plan: provisions that will lower costs for working families; increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy that will go toward paying for the package; and address climate change.
“We face a fundamental choice in America right now as we rebuild our economy: this time, will everyone get in on the deal? President Biden knows whose side he’s on: the backbone of this country, the middle class,” the memo states. “And Republicans who oppose the Build Back Better agenda have chosen whose side they are on, too. They are fighting to protect tax cuts for the wealthiest and for their big corporate donors at the expense of American families.”
Republicans have tried to negatively brand the package as a “tax and spend” nightmare, but Democrats don’t believe the opposing party has seen success in attacking the package.
“I actually think Republicans have been flailing in that the bill is very popular and the components of the bill are even more popular,” said Navin Nayak, president and executive director of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “You can see it’s been incredibly hard for them to actually find a foothold to attack this bill.”
Nayak said Republicans have instead fallen back on “old tropes about spending” in trying to attack the package.
Polls have consistently shown that Biden’s economic proposals are popular. But the president’s numbers took a hit recently as he endured criticism from many corners for the situation in Afghanistan.
At the moment, Democrats are embroiled in a complicated fight over the reconciliation package.
The White House needs to convince Democrats like Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinCongress needs to gird the country for climate crisis Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Poll from liberal group shows more voters in key states back .5T bill MORE (W.Va.) to get behind a large reconciliation bill and Democrats increasingly believe that the price tag will ultimately be under the $3.5 trillion allotted.
On Monday, the House Ways and Means Committee unveiled a package of aggressive tax increases that still fell short of those Biden proposed months ago, a move meant to appease moderates but that aggravated progressives.
“Things are about to get really, really difficult and I don’t believe everyone is going to get what they want out of this process but in the end I believe it’s going to get done,” Manley said, noting the stakes for Biden and Democrats. “Failure is not an option here.”