President Biden Friday morning doubled down on his support for the $3.5 trillion spending plan that some moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin oppose, siding with progressives like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders in the brewing intra-party battle over the bill.
Biden said that the government should have two focuses in September. The top priority, he said, is beating back the coronavirus pandemic. But he also pushed Congress to pass his two major spending plans.
“The second thing that has to happen in September is for the Congress, the House and Senate, to finish passing my economic agenda so that we can keep up the historic momentum we’ve been building,” Biden said.
“It’s about investing in America’s future. Not about short-term stimulus . That’s not we’re talking about. These are long-term prosperity we’re talking about,” Biden said. “Creating millions of good paying jobs for hardworking Americans. It’s about reducing bottlenecks in our economy, about reducing long-term price pressures.”
Biden added: “We’re going to create millions of good paying jobs. We’re going to ease inflationary pressure.”
Those points closely mirrored arguments Manchin, D-W.Va., made in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in which he said he’ll refuse to vote for the $3.5 trillion spending plan.
“Over the past 18 months, we’ve spent more than $5 trillion responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Now Democratic congressional leaders propose to pass the largest single spending bill in history with no regard to rising inflation, crippling debt or the inevitability of future crises,” Manchin said in the Journal. “Those who believe such concerns are overstated should ask themselves: What do we do if the pandemic gets worse under the next viral mutation? What do we do if there is a financial crisis like the one that led to the Great Recession?”
Biden’s reasoning that spending so much money would ease inflation is not clear, given that inflation generally happens when there is too much money in the economy, not too little.
Biden also emphasized that the $3.5 trillion plan will raise taxes on the rich but not the middle class, that it will create free pre-K and community college, and argued that it will be good for the economy.
“Our country needs these investments,” Biden said. “I’ve seen no evidence to suggest it’s going to cost jobs or cost, I mean, you know. And now we need Congress to finish the job, to come through for the American people.”
This is a developing story please check back for updates.