Republicans push back after Biden lays out Democratic agenda

By Casey Harper | The Center Square

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and other Republicans are speaking out against President Joe Biden’s agenda, which has become increasingly more wide-ranging and expensive since he took office.

Biden addressed Congress and the nation Wednesday night, when he laid out a litany of aggressive gun control, taxes and spending proposals. He also spoke on the historic nature of his vice president’s race and gender, police reform, and the war in Afghanistan.

“After 20 years of valiant valor and sacrifice, it’s time to bring those troops home,” Biden said, referring to his planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan later this year.

Scott gave the immediate Republican response, focusing on his personal story and the need to reopen the economy post COVID-19, as well as pointing out some of Biden’s more controversial stances on abortion and Democrats’ recent push to expand the Supreme Court.

“The President is abandoning principles he held for decades,” Scott said. “Now, he says your tax dollars should fund abortions. He’s laying groundwork to pack the Supreme Court.”

All members of the House and Senate were not allowed in the room during Biden’s speech because of COVID-19 concerns, but plenty of the members on the right side of the aisle were quick to point out the perceived problems with the president’s agenda.

“Republicans stand for the principles and policies that unite Americans and expand opportunity for working families,” Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in response to Biden’s address. “Not radical agendas designed to push us apart.”

Biden’s speech came the same day the president unveiled a new $1.8 trillion spending plan, which would raise capital gains taxes and the highest marginal tax rates to fund tax breaks for families, paid family leave and other spending items.

So far, Biden has requested $6 trillion in spending from Congress and several tax increases to pay for it.

“Even more taxing, even more spending, to put Washington even more in the middle of your life, from the cradle, to college,” Scott said. “The beauty of the American Dream is that families get to define it for themselves.”

“We should be expanding options and opportunities for all families, not throwing money at certain issues because Democrats think they know best,” he added.

The president also pointed to the murder of George Floyd and stressed the need for police reform, an issue that has led to division, protests and even riots already during his administration. Biden called on the country to “root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system.”

“We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black America,” Biden said. “Now is our opportunity to make some real progress.”

Scott pushed back on Biden’s comments on race and police reform.

“Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country,” Scott said. “It’s backwards to fight discrimination with different types of discrimination.”

Biden also addressed gun control, reiterating his call for a ban on “assault weapons” with high capacity magazines. Regarding the immigration crisis, he called on Congress to pass his immigration legislation, which would create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants. The spike in illegal immigration since he took office has been a political burden for the administration.

One member, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, encapsulated fears on the right with more bite.

“Socialism in slow motion,” Jordan said. “Get ready, America. President Biden is going to raise your taxes.“

Biden clearly anticipated some level of opposition, but he said Wednesday he wants to work with those who disagree.

“I’d like to meet with those who have ideas that are different, they think are better,” Biden said. “I welcome those ideas. But the rest of the world is not waiting for us. I just want to be clear, from my perspective, doing nothing is not an option.”