Biden warns Republicans not to ‘get in the way’ of more spending

President Biden on Thursday warned Republicans touting parts of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package they universally opposed not to “get in the way” of the $4 trillion-plus economic agenda Mr. Biden says is needed to sustain a longer-term economic recovery.

Mr. Biden whipped out a list of examples of GOP members praising individual parts of the relief law, like a special fund for hard-hit restaurants and money for community health care centers.

“Some people have no shame,” the president said, laughing. “But I’m happy. I’m happy they know that it benefitted their constituents. That’s OK with me.”

“But if you’re going to try to take credit for what you’ve done, don’t get in the way of what we still need to do,” the president said.

Congressional Democrats muscled the package through in March without a single Republican vote.

“I’m not going to embarrass any one of them, but I have here a list of how back in their districts they’re bragging about the rescue plan,” the president said.

Mr. Biden spoke after touring Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio, where he had been slated to hold a campaign rally in March 2020 before the coronavirus upended those plans.

He said the country is turning the tide with respect to coronavirus cases, deaths, and steadily improving economic numbers.

“We still have work to do, but our future today is as bright and as wide open as it ever has been,” he said. “America’s coming back. America’s on the move.”

His comments about the GOP come as he’s still trying to negotiate with congressional Republicans on a version of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure package.

The president also pitched his $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan,” which includes $109 billion to provide two free years of community college for all Americans, including illegal immigrant “Dreamers.”

The White House is trying to make the case that Mr. Biden’s economic policies, notably the $1.9 trillion relief package, are helping fuel a steadily recovering economy.

Critics of his economic agenda point out that general trends on coronavirus cases and economic numbers were already starting to turn a corner before any of Mr. Biden’s policies really took effect.

Republicans warned that the massive injection of taxpayer money into the economy will spark runaway inflation and tack on additional red ink to an already-worsening federal budget picture.

“As the country recovers from the pandemic and the economy starts to grow, I am concerned that this excessive level of federal spending by the administration will lead to both inflation and massive debt that will hinder the recovery and burden future generations of Americans,” Rep. Steve Womack, Arkansas Republican, said at a congressional hearing on Thursday.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said at the hearing she expects to see high annual rates of inflation through the end of the year but doesn’t see the price increase trends as a major cause for concern yet.

“I think as the economy gets back online it’s going to be a bumpy process, but I do believe we’ll see some adjustments,” Ms. Yellen said. “I don’t think this is endemic inflation. And we have tools to address it and it will be important to do so.”

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the economy grew by 6.4% on an annualized basis in January, February and March of this year.

The rate was unchanged from an initial advance estimate in April. Analysts had expected the rate to be revised upward to show 6.6% growth.

There were 406,000 Initial jobless claims for the week ending May 22, the Labor Department also announced Thursday – the lowest figure since March 2020.

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