U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled a $6.8 trillion government spending plan for 2024 calling for dozens of new policy initiatives and higher taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals. But opposition Republicans immediately said it had no chance of winning congressional approval.
Biden, a Democrat in his first term in the White House and eyeing a reelection bid next year, called for more funding to counter China’s economic and military clout, bigger spending on health care for Americans young and old, new education ventures and more robust staffing for the country’s Environmental Protection Agency.
“China is the United States’ only competitor with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to do it,” the White House said in a summary of the budget.
The release of the budget plan comes as the U.S. faces a looming, highly partisan debate about how to raise the country’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling — the limit on the amount of money the government can borrow to pay its bills.
If Biden and Congress cannot agree on a debt-ceiling increase in the coming months, the U.S. could default on its financial obligations for the first time, a financial catastrophe that could affect world markets and boost unemployment in the U.S.
Biden opponents in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have called for large funding cuts, not increases, in future yearly spending plans, such as the one Biden presented for the 12 months starting October 1, to rein in chronic budget deficits that now total more than $1 trillion annually.
Republicans say that government spending is out of control and individual programs should be sharply trimmed or eliminated.
On the contrary, Biden is calling for heightened taxes on highly paid individuals, those making more than $400,000 a year, and on corporations to fund his new or expanded programs. Republicans have yet to spell out which programs they would pare or erase but say they will do so in the next month.
After introducing his budget plan in a speech at a union hall in the eastern city of Philadelphia, Biden pressed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to put forward his plan so that the two can go “line by line” to see what they can agree upon. “I’m ready to meet with the speaker anytime,” Biden said.
Shalanda Young, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, and Cecilia Rouse, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters the Biden budget plan is looking to build on what they see as the successes of the first two years of his administration.
“It will boost American manufacturing, provide national paid leave, cut taxes for working families, make our communities safer, drive medical breakthroughs … deliver for our veterans and a whole lot more,” Young said. “That’s the right way to continue growing our economy.”
“Congressional Republicans keep saying they want to reduce the deficit. But they have not put out a comprehensive plan showing what they’ll cut,” Young said. “We don’t know until they put out a plan. We’re looking forward to seeing their budget so the American people can compare it to what we’re putting out.”
The unveiling of Biden’s budget priorities sets the stage for months of debate.
U.S. budgets are rarely approved by the October 1 start of each new fiscal year, with Congress and the White House — no matter which party controls the presidency or the legislative branch — usually agreeing on continuing spending at current levels until finally reaching an agreement on future funding.