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President Biden Is Not Backing Off His Big-Government Agenda


Mr. Biden’s allies cheered. The president “delivered a bold blueprint for an economy that, at long last, puts working people first,” Liz Shuler, the president of the powerful A.F.L.-C.I.O. labor union, said in a news release on Tuesday evening.

Mr. Biden fashions himself a congressional deal maker, and on Tuesday, he outlined a handful of smaller-scale initiatives on other issues, like curbing the flow of fentanyl and regulating big tech, that might plausibly win bipartisan support in the new Congress. But the speech was not a recipe for economic compromise.

The president re-upped calls for big new federal investments in child care and assistance for the elderly, community college, prekindergarten and health insurance. But he offered no plausible road to finishing the job, as he put it, on that long list of proposals, which he was unable to include in the wide array of economic legislation he signed in his first two years because of opposition from centrist Democrats in the Senate.

What he did outline was a defiant negotiating posture, as he and Republican lawmakers battle over raising the $31.4 trillion federal borrowing limit, which the United States hit last month. That cap, which limits the government’s ability to borrow funds to pay for spending that Congress has already authorized, must be suspended or lifted later this year in order for the United States to continue paying its bills and avoid a financial crisis.

Republicans are refusing to raise the limit unless Mr. Biden agrees to deep spending cuts. Mr. Biden has said he will refuse to bargain over the borrowing cap and on Tuesday night reminded Republicans that they had agreed to effectively increase the debt limit three times when Mr. Trump was president. Despite what both sides called a productive meeting at the White House between the president and Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, last week, Mr. Biden did not waver in that position on Tuesday.

“We’re not going to be moved into being threatened to default on the debt,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. McCarthy, seated behind him, did not look pleased.



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