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Biden’s 2024 bet
The president launched his re-election bid with a focus on freedom and a choice between normal and decent versus extreme and obscene. Plus: McCarthy plays hardball with his members on the debt limit.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
President Joe Biden just announced his re-election campaign four years from the date he made his 2020 bid official.
The campaign is expected to focus on “finishing the job” he started in his first term to create a fairer economy, root out extremism and rebuild the country’s global alliances.
He’ll have a lofty legislative record to run on along with some serious baggage: There’s his age — at 80 years old, he’s already the oldest sitting president in US history. Then there’s his low approval, which the White House attributes in part to the era of deep political polarization we’re living through. And although inflation has cooled in recent months, a dollar still doesn’t go as far as it used to for too many Americans.
Given this reality, it will be interesting to see if congressional Democratic candidates and incumbents run with or away from Biden in their own campaigns as they look to retake the House and protect their one-seat Senate majority.
What Biden has working most for him is that former President Donald Trump is still the Republican Party’s standard-bearer and the frontrunner for the GOP nominee. If that’s the case, prepare for the Biden campaign to frame the election as a choice between normal and decent versus extreme and obscene.
“Don’t compare me to the almighty,” he often says. “Compare me to the alternative.”
••• The launch: The campaign launched with a three-minute video that positioned the president as the defender of the freedoms that are under attack by extreme Republicans.
“When I ran for President four years ago, I said we are in a battle for the soul of America,” he said. “And we still are. The question we are facing is whether in the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom. More rights or fewer.”
Biden incorporated a dose of the optimism that can feel inspiring or patronizing, depending on your politics and personal beliefs about the man — a sharp contrast to the doom-and-gloom fear-mongering the most vocal voices in the Republican Party put forward:
Because I know America. I know we are good and decent people. And I know we are still a country that believes in honesty and respect, and treating each other with dignity. That we’re a nation where we give hate no safe harbor. And we believe that everyone is equal, and that everyone should be given a fair shot to succeed in this country.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who will join Biden on the ticket after making history as the first woman and Black and Asian-American person elected to her position, characterized the attacks on abortion rights, voting rights and gun reform as too serious to ignore.
“The Republicans running for president want to take our country backwards,” she said in a statement. “We will not let that happen.”
Biden closed by asking voters to rise to the occasion (and donate to his campaign).
“Every generation of Americans has faced a moment when they’ve had to defend democracy,” he said. Stand up for our personal freedoms. Stand up for the right to vote and our civil rights. And this is our moment.”
••• The names to know: As previously reported, Julie Chávez Rodríguez will serve as the campaign manager.
Rodríguez is currently the highest-ranking Latina in the White House in her role as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, where she directly works with governors, mayors and local officials to advance the administration’s priorities.
She also served as deputy campaign manager for the 2020 Biden-Harris campaign.
Quentin Fulks, seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, will serve as principal deputy campaign manager after successfully leading Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia to victory in his runoff election last December.
Rodríguez and Fulks will make history as the first Latina woman and Black man to lead a sitting president’s campaign.
The campaign also will be led by members of Congress who will serve as national co-chairs:
Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware
Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina
Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas
Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware
Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and former Dreamworks co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg were also named as national co-chairs.
••• What’s next: Biden will speak this afternoon at the North America’s Building Trades Unions 2023 Legislative Conference on American manufacturing and his record as what the administration describes as America’s most pro-union President.
Four years ago, Biden spoke to union workers in Pennsylvania on the day he launched his presidential campaign.
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THE COST OF THE CUTS ••• The president is also expected to discuss the potentially devastating impact of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s plan to raise the debt limit in exchange for deep budget cuts to the social safety net, according to a White House official.
Specifically, Biden will focus on House Republicans’ proposal to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy tax credits, which the administration says will raise energy prices and send manufacturing jobs overseas in exchange for tax giveaways for wealthy Americans and big corporations.
The plan, as I reported last week, also features tighter work requirements for food stamps and Medicaid. In fact, one of the reasons McCarthy still lacks the votes to pass the plan is because the work requirements are still too compassionate for some of his conference’s most conservative members.
“Let’s be clear: House Republicans are about to walk the plank by voting to cut Head Start, food stamps, child care for families, home heating for seniors, and other critical and popular priorities,” Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in a statement to Supercreator. “It’s amazing that after months of chaos, the one thing Republicans can agree on seems to be cutting important programs for families and children — all to avoid asking billionaires to pay their fair share of taxes.”
And while House Republicans will tell you that the investment cuts are an inevitable part of getting America’s fiscal house in order and it’s true that $31 trillion dollars of debt and counting is untenable, new analysis from Moody’s argues doing so won’t necessarily improve the economic outlook. In fact, McCarthy’s plan if passed would translate to around 780,000 fewer jobs, GDP more than 0.6 percentage points lower, and the unemployment rate around 0.4 percentage points higher by the end of next year.
“President Biden’s agenda to Invest in America while reducing the deficit has paid off with record job creation, historically low unemployment, and more than $400 billion in private sector manufacturing,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “But Speaker McCarthy’s bill would cut the American economy off at the knees.”
Nonetheless, McCarthy is rolling full steam ahead on Wednesday with a floor vote to pass the proposal in hopes that it will demonstrate a level of unity among his ranks that forces President Biden to the negotiating table.
The votes still aren’t officially locked down, although House Republican leadership is still confident they’ll convince skeptics to fall in line by playing hardball: McCarthy isn’t making any changes to the bill despite opposition from both ends of his conference and will dare members to vote against it. It’s a high-risk, high-reward gambit. But to be honest, he doesn’t have many winning cards to play.
The White House is unmoved from its position that the president will entertain budget negotiations only if McCarthy agrees to raise the debt limit without preconditions, a concession that could lead to a speaker revolt if actualized.
“We are not going to negotiate when it comes to the full faith and credit of this nation,” Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday. “And they are holding that hostage currently. They’re holding the economy hostage.”
••• LAWMAKERS INTRODUCE SOUTH KOREA RESOLUTION: Ahead of President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea’s state visit and on the 70th anniversary year of the Mutual Defense Treaty, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a resolution reaffirming US support for South Korea.
“Our alliance is vital to addressing the enduring and emerging challenges we share, from global health and climate change to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions,” Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “The rock-solid commitment between our two vibrant democracies has advanced our shared interests and values and been a force-multiplier for good.”
Democratic Reps. Grace Meng of New York, Andy Kim of New Jersey and Marilyn Strickland of Washington and Republican Reps. Michael McCaul of Texas, Michelle Steel of California and Buddy Carter of Georgia led the introduction of the resolution with Meeks.
In addition to the House bill, a bipartisan companion version is being introduced in the Senate, led by Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Republican Sens. James Risch of Idaho, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, and Bill Hagerty of Tennessee.
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All times Eastern:
President Biden will leave the White House (12 pm) to speak at the Washington Hilton to union workers about American manufacturing (12:30 pm). Once back at the White House (1:25 pm), the president will then receive his daily intelligence briefing (3:15 pm) before leaving the White House (7:10 pm) with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, President Yoon and First Lady Kim Keon-hee of South Korea to visit the South Korea War Memorial (7:20 pm). The Bidens will depart (7:40 pm) to return to the White House (7:45 p.m.).
Vice President Harris and President Yoon will tour NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and then speak to the press (3:05 pm). The vice president will also speak at a rally with reproductive rights organizations and advocates at Howard University (6:45 pm).
The House is in at noon with first votes at 6:30 pm and last votes at 7 pm.
The Senate is in at 3 pm with a vote at 5:30 pm to advance the nomination of Joshua David Jacobs to be Under Secretary for Benefits at the Veterans Affairs Department.
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