Update (1510ET): After unveiling his 2023 budget proposal, the first questions asked of President Biden during Monday's press briefing had nothing to do with the budget, but instead focused on his comments over the weekend about how Russian President Putin "cannot remain in power".
Biden insisted that he "wasn't walking anything back" (of course, he has let his aids and his Secretary of State do that for him), while insisting that his comments wouldn't "escalate" the conflict.
"I was expressing my outrage, he shouldn't remain in power...bad people shouldn't be allowed to continue to do bad things. But that doesn't mean we have the policy to remove him," Biden insisted.
The line, which was improvised by Biden at the end of his speech, was merely a plea to the Russian people - not a call to topple the Russian government. Of course, if Washington isn't actively trying to destabilize the regime, then what are all these sanctions (and calls for Putin to be tried as a "war criminal") really about?
Fox News' Steve Doocy then pressed Biden about his remarks about boots on the ground in Ukraine, chemical weapons and regime change, asking what it says about the president's credibility that his comments keep getting walked back. Biden responded with outright denial, which probably only served to underscore Doocy's point in the eyes of the public.
Doocy: "The big things you say on the world stage keep getting walked back."— Greg Price (@greg_price11) March 28, 2022
Biden: "What's getting walked backed?"
Biden: You told troops they are going to Ukraine, the U.S. would use a chemical weapon, and called for regime change in Russia.
Biden: "None of the 3 occurred." pic.twitter.com/cwZPzANIoC
Asked again about his remarks by another reporter, Biden insisted that his comments were "more of an aspiration than anything."
"It's ridiculous. Nobody believes we're going to take down Putin...the last thing I want to do is engage in a land war or a nuclear war with Russia...that's not part of it. It's more of an aspiration than anything."
Unsurprisingly, Biden was quick to end the press briefing after being hammered with aggressive questions.
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As the White House quietly works to foster negotiations with Sen. Joe Manchin on reviving a scaled-down version of President Biden's 'Build Back Better' plan, Biden will appear before the American people on Monday afternoon to unveil his 2023 budget proposal, which will seek to raise revenues by hiking taxes on the wealthy and corporations in an effort to cut the deficit by $1 trillion over the coming decade.
Biden is slated to begin speaking at 1445ET. Readers can watch live below:
So as not to upset negotiations over 'BBB', the budget will include what's essentially a blank placeholder that can be filled in later.
Here's a quick rundown of the key points from the Biden budget plan (courtesy of Newsquawk):
Proposes $5.79 trillion budget for FY2023, estimates $1.15 trillion deficit
Maintains promise that no one earning less than $400,000 per year will pay higher taxes.
Revives proposal to raise corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%.
Top individual tax rate would rise to 39 6% from 37%.
The plan includes approximately $31 billion in new defense spending, which would raise the total national defense spending to $813 billion.
Plan does not include items from Biden's BBB spending plan.
Stronger economy and higher business individual incomes will boost tax revenues by $300 billion or more than 10% in 2022 from 2021.
Budget would reduce deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years.
Proposal claims higher inflation will have little impact on deficit overall since it raises both expenditures and revenues by similar amounts.
Notably, there are no emergency pandemic or supplemental funds included in the budget proposal.
The budget plan also includes a few other key components, including the following:
- The minimum tax would apply to all individuals and families with more than $100 million in assets. If enacted, the White House believes the tax would raise roughly $360 billion in new revenue over the next 10 years. In a terse statement, White House released a plan to the press, claiming that Biden believes it's "wrong" for the wealthiest Americans to pay a lower rate than working families, while asserting that Biden is indeed a "capitalist".
Increased Federal Funding for Police
- The crime-fighting budget proposal would pencil in $20.6 billion for the next fiscal year for DoJ discretionary spending on federal law enforcement, crime prevention and intervention. That's an increase of $2 billion over the $18.6 billion enacted for the current fiscal year. The proposal also would mandate $30 billion in new spending over the next decade on a variety of programs to expand law enforcement and crime prevention. Details on those programs have not yet been released. It would more than double the funding for community policing through the COPS Hiring Program. It also would add $500 million for so-called community violence interventions - a tenfold increase. It would pay for nearly 300 new deputy marshals and related personnel.
Incentives for Electric Vehicles
- Per BBG, Biden's budget reiterates previous proposals to electrify the federal fleet and provide funding for states to build out charging stations across the US. The proposal includes $1.4 billion in fiscal 2023 to deploy EV chargers and other alternative fueling infrastructure across the US, which reflects funding provided by the infrastructure law. The proposal will also ask for $757 million for zero-emission vehicles and chargers across 19 federal agencies.
While the additional funding for the Pentagon and for police will likely be popular with moderate Democrats, the budget could set the White House up for another confrontation with the Dems' insurgent progressive left.