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Biden Unveils His 2024 Platform... er, His Budget

As expected, Joe Biden unveiled his proposed 2023-24 budget yesterday. As we have pointed out several times already, House Republicans are so far removed from everyone else in terms of what they want, there is zero chance this budget (or anything close to it) becomes law. So, the wily old longtime senator who is now president used it as an opportunity to engage in a little (well, actually a lot of) messaging heading into the 2024 presidential campaign.

There is, incidentally, no question about what's going on here. Biden just so happened to conduct the unveiling in Philadelphia, which is the biggest city in the most important swing state in the country. And, off the record, White House staffers admitted that this the primary goal here was to throw down the gauntlet in front of House Republicans. The actual proposal itself is a very slick 184-page document that contains plenty of verbiage about all the good things Biden says he has done for the American people, and will do for the American people.

Anyhow, here are the portions of the $6.9 trillion budget proposal that stand out to us:

  1. Higher taxes for the rich
  2. Higher taxes for fossil fuel companies
  3. Other changes to corporate taxes that add up to $400 billion/year
  4. New Medicare taxes on people making over $400,000, so as to keep the program solvent until 2050
  5. Partly ending the 2017 Trump-era tax cut
  6. Restoring the child tax credit
  7. Reducing prescription prices through negotiation
  8. Price caps on insulin
  9. Increased money for education and child care
  10. Paid family and medical leave
  11. More money for scientific research
  12. 400% increase in climate-related aid for poor countries
  13. More money for defense
  14. More money for border security
  15. Cut the deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years

We've already noted most of these proposals before, as the White House did not exactly keep the highlights of its plan a secret before the big reveal. Nonetheless, it's good to list them all in one place.

The first dozen items on the list could just as easily appear in a budget proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). That stuff is the red meat for the blue base. Or maybe we should say the impossible meat? The tofurkey? The vegan breakfast burritos made with "positive intentions"? The unicorn kibbles and bits?

The most important proposals, in our view, are the last three. Those are things that AOC would not include in her budget, and so are the things that Biden can use to argue that his budget is not socialism run amok, and that it's a fiscally responsible proposal meant to provide important benefits for Americans while also investing in the things that matter to moderate voters. We suspect he'll talk a lot more about his plans for the deficit than about anything else on the list.

Once again, though, this is not a serious budget proposal. Most of these things would never get past the House Republican conference. Heck, many of them would never get past Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). This is just the opening move in this year's game of budgetary chess. Now, it is up to the Republicans to make their countermove. Unfortunately for them, in real chess, the potential opening-game countermoves are obvious. But in this metaphorical chess game, it's not so easy. The members of the House Republican Conference aren't even in agreement about what they want. Nor are the members of the Senate Republican Conference (think Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, vs. Sen. Rick Scott, R-FL). So, it's going to be tough for them to come up with a unified proposal. And when and if they do (and there's no guarantee), it's going to be extra tough for them to give the base what it wants without giving the Democrats multiple mallets to hit the Republicans over the head with. (Z)

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