Biden’s annual budget hits populist economic themes as general election campaign kicks off

President Joe Biden released his annual budget on Monday, laying out his aspirational funding priorities in what serves as an important messaging event as he works to convince voters who are sour on the economy to give him a second term.

The $7.266 trillion budget outlined by the White House, which comes as the president hits battleground states on the campaign trail this week, builds on the policy vision he laid out in last week’s State of the Union address in which he vowed to help the middle class and tried to draw contrasts with congressional Republicans and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, whom he referred to only as “my predecessor.”

The administration’s proposal comes as a prolonged spat over funding the government plays out on Capitol Hill. The government has been operating on a stopgap measure for months, and lawmakers have passed a series of short funding bills that have kept the US government on the brink of shutting down for weeks as congressional Republicans fight among themselves about federal spending.

White House officials targeted Trump and congressional Republicans in laying out Biden’s latest budget proposal, while emphasizing Biden “has made lowering costs for hardworking families is top economic priority.”

“That’s why the budget includes proposals to bring down the cost of everyday necessities and lower health care costs, drug prices and expands access to prescription drugs,” Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young said during a call with reporters Monday highlighting details of the president’s latest budget proposal.

With Biden facing persistently low ratings on his handling of the economy, despite improving economic indicators, his proposals focus on populist themes such as raising tax rates on the wealthy and large corporations and lowering the cost of prescription medications – areas where the White House thinks it can appeal to voters, even if some of those proposals as written are likely dead on arrival in a narrowly divided Congress.

The budget released Monday includes proposals to lower costs for families, increase investments in American manufacturing, strengthen Social Security and Medicare, and reduce the deficit, according to a White House official.

Specifically, the budget will include provisions to raise taxes on large corporations, crack down on corporate profit shifting, and propose a minimum 25% tax on billionaires, the official added. The White House argues that these provisions would cut the deficit by around $3 trillion over 10 years — an aspiration made by last year’s budget as well — and cut taxes for many middle- and low-income Americans.

The budget also includes proposals for national paid leave and advancements in cancer research.

White House officials attacked congressional Republicans multiple times while giving details on the budget, accusing them of wanting to increase the deficit and “supporting giveaways to big corporations and the richest Americans at the expense of American seniors.”

“In contrast,” Young said, “the president’s budget ensures that billionaires pay a minimum 25% rate makes large corporations pay their fair share cracks down on corporate profit shifting, and cuts taxes for tens of millions of low- and middle-income families.”

Some of these proposals are not new, including the minimum billionaire tax and the increase in corporate tax rates, having appeared in previous Biden budgets.

The president’s budget is a primarily aspirational document, which the White House can use to highlight legislative and policy priorities. Many of the proposals expected to be included in this year’s budget face a steep climb in Congress, where Republicans control the House and Democrats have a narrow majority in the Senate.

CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed to this report.

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