Biden to launch critique of House Republican budget

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images
File: Vice President Biden (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

 

Vice President Biden on Monday will launch a blistering critique of the House Republican budget plan, kicking off a midterm campaign effort aimed at winning votes by pointing to what Democrats say would be the catastrophic effects of the conservative vision shaped by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.).

An official in the vice president’s office said Sunday that the vice president, in his afternoon remarks at George Washington University, would argue that House Republicans want to “cut taxes for millionaires and raise tax taxes on middle class families, returning to the failed principles of top-down economics.”

By doing so, Biden will reprise a Democratic strategy that worked well in 2012, but faces a far more challenging electoral terrain this year. The Republican-led House passed Ryan’s budget earlier this month, but unlike in earlier years, Democrats consumed by debate over the Affordable Care Act had not paid much attention to the budget plan. The Democratic-led Senate is not expected to take up the measure.

In his remarks, Biden plans to address differences in the approach of House Republicans and Democrats on taxes, health care and domestic spending, specifically “investments in scientific and medical research,” according to the official in the vice president’s office who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to preview the remarks. The Ryan budget would repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Biden will argue that the House Republican budget would cut key domestic programs by about 15 percent, “reducing our investments in priorities such as science and technology, as well as education.” By contrast, Biden will say that President Obama’s budget, released in March, “would accelerate economic growth and expand opportunity for all hardworking Americans, while continuing to cut the deficit in a balanced way.” Obama’s budget is not expected to Congress either.

Ryan has characterized his budget far differently, saying it makes responsible reforms to the nation’s spending programs to ensure they are sustainable over the coming decades. His plan would “balance the budget and create jobs,” Ryan said earlier this month. “Too many Americans struggle to make ends meet, while Washington continues to live beyond its means. It’s irresponsible to take more from hardworking families to spend more in Washington.”

The Biden official said the vice president would continue to take aim at the House Republican budget through November while emphasizing that Democrats have a superior alternative. The speech Monday is expected to frame the way Biden will discuss the issue for the rest of the year.

Biden’s critique is likely to echo that of the left-leaning Center on Budget Policy and Priorities, which has argued that neither the Ryan nor the Obama budgets adequately fund domestic programs. But an analysis earlier this month found that the Ryan budget puts $1 trillion less into domestic programs compared to the Obama budget, by embracing the deep spending cuts known as sequestration and then cutting programs by $800 billion more over the next 10 years.

The Center on Budget has also argued that nearly 70 percent of the Ryan budget’s overall cuts come from programs that protect people of poor and moderate incomes, hitting the poor hard.

Ryan has taken strong exception  to the liberal critique, saying that his budget still projects $43 trillion in spending over the next 10 years, compared to the $48 trillion that the federal government is expected to spend without new legislation.

“Nearly $43 trillion is enough,” his office said recently.

The topic of Biden’s speech suggests that he may play a bit of a “bad cop” to Obama’s “good cop” as the mid-term strategy unfolds.

White House officials have argued that the greatest role Obama can play this summer and fall is to draw contrasts between GOP and Democratic economic thinking.

Obama has been doing that primarily by noting his own proposals – to raise the minimum wage, for instance, or pass new laws to promote pay equity for men and women. While he has critiqued Republicans, he has mainly focused on what Democrats bring the to the table.

While Biden’s approach may not differ significantly, his sharp focus on the House Republican plan suggests he will be hitting the GOP harder in hopes of revving up the Democratic base and painting the GOP plan in the darkest light possible.

 

 

Zachary A. Goldfarb is policy editor at The Washington Post.
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