Biden takes aim at GOP for ‘talking down’ economic recovery
President Biden on Friday sharpened his attacks against Republicans on the economy, accusing them of “talking down” the economic recovery as he lauded the decline in unemployment and job growth during his first year in office.
Speaking to reporters from the State Dining Room, Biden called GOP claims that he isn’t addressing inflation “malarkey” and accused Republicans of characterizing the economic recovery in negative terms because they voted against the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law that provided funding for school reopenings, COVID-19 vaccine distribution and additional relief for Americans.
“They want to talk down the recovery because they voted against the legislation that made it happen,” Biden said in prepared remarks. “They voted against the tax cuts for middle-class families. They voted against the funds we needed to reopen our schools, to keep police officers and firefighters on the job, to lower healthcare premiums. They voted against the funds we’re now using to buy COVID booster shots and more antiviral pills.”
“I refuse to let them stand in the way of this recovery, and now my focus is on keeping this recovery strong and durable, notwithstanding Republican obstructionism,” Biden continued. “I know that even as jobs and families’ incomes have recovered, families are still feeling the pinch of prices and costs. So we’re taking that on as well.”
Biden reflected on the jobs report released Friday afternoon that showed the U.S. added 199,000 jobs during the month of December. While the employment gains were weaker than expected, the report also showed that the unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in December from 4.2 percent the month prior — a detail that Biden and other officials sought to highlight. Biden said it represented the sharpest one-year drop in unemployment in U.S. history.
Overall, the U.S. added 6.4 million jobs during Biden’s first month in office as the economy recovered under the continued strain of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would argue the Biden economic plan is working and it’s getting America back to work, back on its feet,” Biden said in his speech.
Republicans have attacked Biden’s economic agenda, blaming him for rising inflation that is expected to persist into next year. Some Democrats have criticized the White House for being too slow to rebut Republican attacks on inflation.
“Biden and the Democrats do not care about the harm they’re causing Americans — from rapidly rising prices on everything from gas to groceries to job-killing mandates, to a pandemic they promised to shut down,” Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement Friday on the jobs report. “Joe Biden doesn’t care and the American people are paying the price.”
Biden’s remarks signified an effort to take those criticisms head on as the 2022 midterm elections approach and Democrats try to hold on to their narrow majorities in Congress.
The president also took a swipe at his predecessor, one day after eviscerating former President Trump for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
“The stock market — the last guy’s measure of everything — is about 20 percent higher than it was when my predecessor was there,” Biden said. “It has hit record after record after record on my watch while making things more equitable for working people.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up nearly 18 percent over the past year, the Nasdaq composite is up 15 percent, and the S&P 500 is up 23 percent.
Biden said Friday that he is focused on addressing bottlenecks in the supply chain, which he said improved at the end of last year in time for the holidays as his administration took steps to unclog backlogs at ports.
“The Grinch did not steal Christmas, nor any votes,” Biden quipped.
Biden also reiterated his push to pass his Build Back Better package, a sweeping climate and social policy bill that his administration argues would ease inflationary pressures by lowering health care, child care and other costs for families. The legislation is currently stalled in the Senate.
Sylvan Lane contributed.
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