President Biden went after the House Freedom Caucus during remarks on the economy on Friday — the day after he released his proposed budget — saying there isn’t much to negotiate on with the conservative group after they released their new spending demands.
The president argued that the Freedom Caucus demands include cutting all spending other than defense by 25 percent.
The far-right group of House members said on Friday they want to cap overall discretionary spending at fiscal 2022 levels for 10 years while allowing for 1 percent growth per year, which would be a $131 billion cut from current levels. The group, however, didn’t specifically mention a 25 percent cut to all non-defense programs.
“If what they say they mean, they’re going to keep the tax cuts from the last president … no additional taxes on the wealthy — matter of fact reducing taxes — and in addition to that, on top of that, they’re going to say we have to cut 25 percent of every program across the broad,” Biden said on Friday. “I don’t know what there’s much to negotiate on.”
“The idea that I’m going to agree that we start to figure out where we cut 25 percent across the board — by the way, their entire program does not lower the deficit one single penny,” Biden said.
The president’s $6.8 trillion budget released on Thursday plans to reduce the nation’s debt by $3 trillion over 10 years. It also would undo some key provisions of the 2017 Trump tax cuts, which is expected to be a non-starter for Republicans.
Biden said of cutting spending to all programs other than defense: “That means cops, firefighters; it means health care.” He also said he was surprised to see the Freedom Caucus wants to reduce the number of Internal Revenue agents, after the Inflation Reduction Act recently provided funding to add more agents.
“I don’t know, we just have a very different value set,” the president said.
Biden said that he is prepared to sit down and negotiate with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) but called him out for Republicans not releasing their budget on the same day the president did.
“I handed it to them, why all of a sudden can’t they get it done in March or maybe even April, maybe even May. I don’t know, it doesn’t sound like they’re on the level yet,” he said.
The president’s remarks on Friday were on the latest data from the Labor Department, which found that the U.S. economy added 311,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate rose to 3.6 percent.
“In today’s job numbers it’s clear, our economy is moving in the right direction,” he said. “That’s a little more dignity for 12 million Americans.”
He also touted that inflation is down 30 percent from what it was last summer and gas prices are down more than $1.50 since their peak.
“I guess we do have a different value set,” Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) said in response to Biden’s remarks. “We believe in fiscal responsibility and fiscal accountability, and not borrowing money we don’t have. That’s what we believe in. I don’t know what president believes in.”
Biden said that “the biggest threat to our recovery is the reckless talk” from so-called MAGA (Make America Great Again) Republicans — conservatives who supported former President Trump and his policies; the term references Trump’s popular campaign slogan.
“The Republicans in the United States Congress, what they want to do with regard to the debt limit. You know they’re threatening to default on our national debt,” Biden said. “I urge our extreme MAGA friends in the Congress to put their threats aside, join me … let’s finish the job.”
Presidential budgets typically are dead on arrival on Capitol Hill. McCarthy called on Thursday called Biden’s proposed budget “unserious,” citing the trillions of dollars worth of tax hikes targeting wealthy Americans and corporations.
Emily Brooks contributed to this report. Updated at 1:49 p.m.