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Biden slams Trump for racking up $8 trillion in debt as he vows Democrats will pay for their spending plan by taxing the rich

Business Insider logo Business Insider 8/11/2021 asheffey@businessinsider.com (Ayelet Sheffey,Joseph Zeballos-Roig,Andy Kiersz)
Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: President Joe Biden. AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File © AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File President Joe Biden. AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File
  • During remarks promoting his economic agenda, Biden slammed Trump's tax cuts for racking up debt.
  • He said his plans would be fully paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
  • The infrastructure and reconciliation bills are both headed to the House for approval.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

After months of negotiations, the Senate passed President Joe Biden's $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Tuesday. A day later, the president made sure Americans knew his economic agenda would represent a sharp break from President Donald Trump.

"This isn't going to be anything like my predecessor, whose unpaid tax cuts and other spending added nearly $8 trillion in his four years to the national debt - $8 trillion," Biden said on Wednesday.

The passage of the infrastructure plan through the Senate was a major achievement for Biden's Build Back Better agenda, and during his remarks, he touted the plans for creating jobs and boosting economic growth, among other things. He also used this achievement to criticize the debt that came from Trump's tax cuts, saying that Trump didn't even attempt to pay for them.

According to Federal Reserve data, the national debt rose by almost $7.8 trillion during Trump's time in office. During that time, Republicans approved a major corporate-tax cut that added $2 trillion to the national debt, a measure many Democrats and economists said favored the wealthiest Americans.

During Trump's tenure, Democrats and Republicans also struck some spending deals to fund the government, while $3 trillion was added to the national debt specifically to combat the COVID-19 pandemic with stimulus packages that provided small-business aid, enhanced unemployment insurance, and direct payments. Economists largely viewed that spending as critical to keeping people and businesses afloat during the crisis.

Biden vowed he would do things differently and pay for his major spending proposals by hiking taxes on the rich.

"The investments I'm proposing would be fully paid for over the long term by having the largest corporations ... and the superwealthy begin to pay their fair share," Biden said.

Read more: The ultimate White House org chart to 600+ members of Biden's staff and who makes six figures

Biden has remained committed to raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations. When he introduced his infrastructure proposals, he wanted to fund them with a corporate-tax hike to 28%, still only a partial reversal of Trump's 2017 corporate-tax cut. He said at the time that he was "sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced."

Republicans have strictly opposed raising taxes on the rich, but Senate Democrats are attempting to do that with their $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, which can be passed without any Republican votes.

Both the infrastructure and reconciliation bills are headed to the House for approval, marking wins for Democrats in advancing Biden's economic plans.

"We brought this economy back from a cold start," Biden said. "And there is going to be some ups and down. But I am committed to making sure our historic economic recovery reaches everyone."

Biden later dismissed recent GOP threats that they wouldn't assist Democrats in raising the debt ceiling, a step that would authorize the US government to pay off its debt load. "Nope, they're not going to let us default," he said.

Read more: Here's what's in the $3.5 trillion 'human' infrastructure plan that Democrats are now turning their attention to

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