President Biden, on defense for months over rising inflation, went on offense on Tuesday, castigating Republicans for complaining about rising prices while offering “extreme” policy ideas that he said would help the wealthiest Americans and big corporations rather than working families.
Seeking to turn the debate over the economy against his opponents six months before the midterm congressional elections, Mr. Biden targeted what he called “the ultra-MAGA agenda,” a phrase he has used increasingly in recent days referring to former President Donald J. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
“Look, the bottom line is this. Americans have a choice right now between two paths. Reflecting two different sets of values,” Mr. Biden said in a speech at the White House. “My plan attacks inflation and grows the economy by lowering costs for working families, giving workers well-deserved raises, reducing the deficit by historic levels and making big corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share.
“The other path is the ultra-MAGA plan put forward by congressional Republicans to raise taxes on working families, lower the income of American workers, threaten sacred programs Americans count on like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and give break after break to big corporations and billionaires.”
Mr. Biden cited a program called the “11-Point Plan to Rescue America” set forth by Senator Rick Scott of Florida, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. But other Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the party’s minority leader, have repudiated elements of this plan, which Mr. Scott has put forward as a platform for the midterm elections.
Republicans did not wait for Mr. Biden’s speech to accuse him of dodging responsibility for inflation. “Biden might be living in an alternate reality, but voters are not, which is why they solely blame Biden and Democrats for the rising prices they see for everyday goods, gas, and groceries,” said Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee. “The economy is on the ballot in November, and voters know Biden and Democrats are only making it worse.”
Mr. Biden blamed the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine for inflation, which is at a four-decade high. He claimed credit for bringing down the federal deficit and promoted raising taxes on corporations and the affluent, saying they have not paid their fair share. He also blamed energy companies for profiteering without increasing production as they could be doing.
“I know the families all across America are hurting because of inflation,” he said. “I understand what it feels like. I come from a family where, when the price of gas or food went up, we felt it.”
He added: “I want every American to know that I’m taking inflation very seriously and it’s my top priority.”