September 27, 2023

Washington — The White House is preparing to release President Biden’s annual budget proposal on Thursday, when he will lay out his administration’s priorities for the next fiscal year as he readies an expected reelection bid with Republicans in control of the House.

The proposal is expected to include plans to strengthen entitlement programs by raising taxes on the wealthy and include trillions of dollars in deficit-reduction measures aimed at blunting GOP attacks about runaway government spending. In an indication of the political dynamics underlying the plan, Mr. Biden will travel to Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state, to deliver a speech Thursday afternoon on the details of his budget.

The president’s budget serves as a starting point for negotiations with lawmakers who are ultimately responsible for crafting and passing spending bills that keep the government running. Presidents’ budgets as proposed are never identical to what Congress passes, particularly when the opposition party controls one or both chambers, but they are useful for revealing the administration’s priorities and expectations. As he and other presidents have done before, Mr. Biden is releasing this budget proposal weeks after a deadline of early February.

The White House has said the president’s budget would lower costs for families and strengthen Social Security and Medicare while reducing the deficit by raising taxes on the most affluent Americans, a nonstarter with House Republicans. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday that the budget proposal would reduce the deficit by nearly $3 trillion over the next decade, higher than the $2 trillion in savings the White House had previously identified.

“This is something that he’s talked about since the campaign, and he believes in being fiscally responsible, and that’s what you’re going to see from the president tomorrow,” Jean-Pierre said at the daily press briefing. 

Officials said earlier in the week that the president is proposing to increase the Medicare tax rate on income above $400,000 to 5%, up from the current rate of 3.8%. The White House said the president’s proposal would also close loopholes on Medicare taxes and help the program be strong for “decades” to come.

One reporter at Wednesday’s press briefing pointed out that the details of the president’s budget that have been released so far did not appear to have an “olive branch” for Republicans. “If they want to talk to the president about how we’re going to reduce the deficit, he’s willing to have that conversation. But that’s not what they’re putting forth,” Jean-Pierre replied. 

Republicans in Congress have not yet released a budget proposal of their own nor detailed what specific spending cuts they would like to see.

The president has made protecting Social Security or Medicare central to his message since his State of the Union address, when GOP lawmakers loudly objected to his characterization of their position on entitlements. The president and Democrats have heavily criticized a proposal from GOP Sen. Rick Scott of Florida in 2022 that would have made all federal programs subject to renewal every five years. (He later amended his plan to exclude Medicare and Social Security.)

Meanwhile, lawmakers and the White House are facing a summer deadline for raising or suspending the nation’s borrowing limit to avoid a potentially catastrophic default. Last week, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters there had been no further outreach from the White House on the debt limit since he met with the president earlier this year, but said talks could pick back up after the president releases his budget.

McCarthy has said that any suspension or raising of the debt limit must be accompanied by spending cuts, but has said Social Security and Medicare should be off the table in negotiations.

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