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Biden hammers Republican ‘chaos’ in economic speech

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US President Joe Biden speaks about the economy at Steamfitters Local 602 in Springfield, Virginia./AFP
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Jan 27, 2023 - 06:58 AM

SPRINGFIELD, UNITED STATES — President Joe Biden said Thursday he will veto any Republican legislation that threatens to sow “chaos” in the US economy.

“I will not let it happen. Not on my watch. I will veto everything,” he said in a speech laying out his economic vision at a Virginia pipe fitters union hall.

Biden said congressional Republicans’ push to block expansion of the nation’s borrowing limit, threatening a US debt default, would spark “chaos” and “pain” for the world’s number one economy.

He described another major Republican economic idea — replacing the income tax with a 30 percent sales tax — as “almost unbelievable” and a gimmick to allow “millionaires and billionaires” to avoid paying taxes.

The speech, which touted Biden’s promise of a US manufacturing rebirth, laid out the attack lines of the Democrat’s expected 2024 re-election bid.

The president, who at 80 is already the oldest US leader in the nation’s history, has not yet announced whether he will seek a second term.

However, a decision is expected soon and the timing of US economic resurgence from the Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns appears to be working in Biden’s favor.

Only a few months ago, Biden looked deeply vulnerable as the highest inflation in four decades ate into Americans’ savings and salaries, while economists sounded increasingly pessimistic on the prospects of avoiding a recession.

The latest data on Friday showing GDP growth of 2.1 percent in 2022, with a stronger than expected 2.9 percent surge in October to December, gave ammunition to Biden administration officials who argue that they have instead managed to steer the world’s largest economy out of danger.

Likewise, inflation has been slowly but steadily dropping from highs through six straight months.

Polls show Biden remains unpopular — with only a 42 percent average approval rating. There is lukewarm enthusiasm, even among Democrats, for him to seek a second term, which he would complete at the age of 86.

But with hard-right Republicans holding sway in the House of Representatives and Donald Trump already campaigning to try a comeback in 2024, Biden’s calculus is that he will be able to repeat his feat in 2020 when Americans opted for his centrist message.

To underline his economic credentials, Biden announced what the White House is calling an “Invest in America Cabinet” comprising the secretaries of commerce, labor, transportation, treasury, energy, health and the environment.

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