On Day 82, the president pulled out a classic Bidenism: attacking the least of his opponents’ concerns.
Infrastructure Negotiations Underway.
The White House has begun outreach to Republicans on President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure bill, hosting a bipartisan and bicameral Oval Office meeting Monday with members of Congress. Per the official event readout, “The President and Members of Congress had a good exchange of ideas, and the President asked for their feedback and follow-up on proposals discussed in the meeting, while underscoring that inaction is not an option.”
“I’m prepared to negotiate as to how—the extent of the—my infrastructure project, as well as how we pay for it,” Biden said. “I think everyone acknowledges we need significant increase in infrastructure. It’s going to get down to what we call infrastructure,” presumably referring to a wide swath of climate change initiatives and community interventions. But by way of example, Biden claimed that “some people don’t think that” Americans having undrinkable water due to lead pipes is an infrastructure issue. While a distinction to that effect made by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem did not gain much traction, a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll indicated that most Americans, even those who identify as Republicans and voted for Donald Trump in 2020, do think infrastructure improvements are needed, albeit with some reservations about how they are funded. Whether or not pipes are infrastructure is not the main issue for Republicans in Congress, who see in a potential corporate tax hike the undoing of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
“The President is happy to hear ideas or alternatives for how this plan and package could—should be paid for. His primary focus is on this investment,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said from the podium in a question about raising corporate tax rates. “There are disagreements about how to pay for it. We’re happy to have a discussion about that.”
Before the meeting, Biden also addressed the death of Daunte Wright, a man shot during a police interaction in Minnesota, saying that he had spoken with Minnesota authorities. “You’ve all watched, I assume—as I did—the film, which is fairly—the body cam—which is fairly—fairly graphic. The question is: Was it an accident? Was it intentional? That remains to be determined by a full-blown investigation,” Biden said. “But, in the meantime, I want to make it clear again: There is absolutely no justification—none—for looting, no justification for violence.”
Make America… A Great Engine Again!
The president also pitched his infrastructure plan in a virtual meeting with CEOs on improving the United States’ computer chip supply chain as various industries experience the effects of a global shortage.
“Look, we need to build the infrastructure of today, not repair the one of yesterday,” Biden said. “And the plan I propose is going to create millions of jobs, rebuild America, protect our supply chains, and revitalize American manufacturing. And it’s going to make America—research and development a great engine again.”
At the end of the meeting, when press were told to leave and began shouting questions, Biden put up a hand and said “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa”—yes, fourteen times.
Statement on Ramadan Highlights “Hate Crimes” Against Muslims.
Biden released a statement marking the beginning of Ramadan that included an injunction against bullying, bigotry, hate crimes, and prejudice.
“Muslim Americans continue to be targeted by bullying, bigotry, and hate crimes,” the statement reads. “This prejudice and these attacks are wrong. They are unacceptable. And they must stop. No one in America should ever live in fear of expressing his or her faith. And my administration will work tirelessly to protect the rights and safety of all people.”
Biden did not release a statement on Easter, and did not use brief remarks on “the tradition of Easter at the White House” to bring attention to the persecution of Christians.