Michigan Republicans blast Biden’s sweeping social agenda ahead of Howell visit – Detroit Free Press

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Biden vows to ‘get it done’ after talks at Capitol

Leaving Capitol Hill Friday after a huddle with Democrats, President Joe Biden pledged to ‘get it done’ as Democrats strained to rescue a scaled back version of Biden’s $3.5 trillion government overhaul and salvage a related infrastructure bill. (Oct. 1)

AP

Four Republican members of Michigan’s congressional delegation criticized President Joe Biden’s agenda hours ahead of his visiting a union facility in Howell on Tuesday to rouse support for an array of social programs and increased taxes to pay for them.

“It’s universal everything,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, “(Calling) this cradle-to-grave mentality… socialism… I think is accurate.”

“They can’t articulate the true economic problem they are trying to take care of here… What is the target they are trying to aim at?” he said.

Huizenga joined three other Republican members of the state’s delegation — U.S. Reps. Jack Bergman of Watersmeet, Lisa McClain of Bruce Township and Tim Walberg of Tipton — spoke Tuesday morning ahead  of Biden’s 3 p.m. visit to the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324 training facility.

Following the visit, Biden was set to give remarks on both his $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan to fund improvements to roads, bridges, public transit and other physical projects as well as another, larger proposal that is likely to include larger child care credits, an expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, free community college tuition, tax credits for electric vehicle purchases and more.

That proposal — the cost of which is not known because Democrats in the House and Senate are still trying to agree upon the details — would be paid for by higher taxes on corporations and wealthier Americans if passed.

More: President Biden to pitch infrastructure bill, ‘Build Back Better’ plan during Howell trip

More: Bergman says only a ‘fraction’ of infrastructure bill goes to traditional uses. He’s wrong.

As it stands, however, both face an uncertain future. While the infrastructure bill passed the Senate with 19 Republicans voting for it along with all of that chamber’s Democrats, support for the second, more sweeping bill is uncertain. And more liberal Democrats in the House have refused to pass the infrastructure bill until they get assurances the other part of Biden’s agenda — labelled “Build Back Better” by the White House — is going to get approval from moderates in the Senate and the House.

Biden is in Howell to talk up both. But Republicans say the problems already encountered in the passage of the bills show the administration and the Democrats, with razor slim majorities in Congress, are in disarray.

“Leaders need to lead and we have an absence of leadership,” said McClain, who referenced a group of protesters confronting Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat who has refused to sign onto a previously proposed $3.5 trillion plan, as she went into a public bathroom. “Stop the bullying, stop the name-calling,” McClain said.

The members of Congress all said they could point to items in the package of bills that concerned them, from the overall cost — which Huizenga said shows spending at a level that “is an insult to drunken sailors” — to a lack of a guarantee that Internet broadband will be made available to every area of rural Michigan.

The infrastructure measure does include $65 billion for broadband nationally. But Bergman and Walberg — his signal dropping in and out on a call as if intended to underscore the point — argued that the legislation doesn’t make a strong enough promise of connecting rural Michiganders to warrant their support. 

 Walberg also said that even though there appears to be an effort now to reduce the cost of the more sweeping bill with Sinema and another Democratic centrist, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, refusing to support the $3.5 trillion price tag, voters should beware: Democrats will likely try to merely limit the duration of certain programs to cut the costs, knowing that once they are in place, it will be much more difficult for Congress not to fund them going forward.

“It will be a dare (to let it lapse),” he said. “That’s the insidious nature of what they’re talking about now… The programs are still in there.”

Biden and the Democrats are already seeing some powerful allies split off: On Monday, the website Axios reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was withdrawing its support for the infrastructure bill after Biden, in a meeting last Friday with House Democrats, linked its passage with the other, more sweeping bill. It also came after Punchbowl News had reported that Republicans had pushed the chamber, the largest business lobby in the country, out of their strategy calls.

The Michigan Republican Party also chided Biden ahead of his visit, saying it was glad he was coming “so that he can see firsthand just how bad his policies have been for Michiganders.” Biden’s approval rating according to polls has been down in recent weeks. RealClearPolitics.com, which tracks and aggregates polling data, shows his disapproval rating among voters nationally at 47.9%, compared with 45.1% who approve of his handling of the presidency.

Contact Todd Spangler at tspangler@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @tsspangler. Read more on Michigan politics and sign up for our elections newsletter.

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