President Joe Biden on Thursday accused Republicans of wanting to cause ‘chaos’ in the country, raising his voice to a shout to make his point, but he fumbled his message at the start when he called a well-known local congressman by the wrong name.
He referred to Democratic Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia, who represents the area in Congress as ‘Doug’ at least four times during his speech – three times at the start and then later in his remarks. Beyer, before he was elected to Congress, was famous locally as the owner of a large car dealership. Ads featuring him ran on the local airwaves.
Ironically, right before his blunder, Biden joked about his critics calling him ‘stupid.’ The president – whose tendency to be loquacious has led to many a verbal fumble – told the audience to sit and then noted: ‘When I was seeking the nomination, I said, take a seat everybody and there wasn’t a single chair in the place and they said that Biden really is stupid.’
President Joe Biden made some verbal fumbles at the start of his speech on Thursday
Democratic Rep. Don Beyer stands during Biden’s remarks – Biden called him ‘Doug’ several times in his speech
Biden then asked ‘where’s Doug?’ as he addressed a small crowd at Steamfitters Local 602 United Association Mechanical Trades School in Springfield, Virginia.
He looked around several times, trying to spot who he was calling out for. Beyer seem clued in that the president wanted him when Biden said ‘Congressman – he’s right here somewhere.’
‘Oh, there you are,’ Biden said when Beyer stood up in the audience. And then he repeated his error: ‘Doug, thanks for the passport.’
Biden appears to have met Beyer before. The congressman was at the White House, on stage with the president, in May when Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law.
Biden also used Beyer to make one of his favorite jokes, noting: ‘Doug and I have something in common. We both married way above our station.’
He also complimented him: ‘Congressman Beyer, you’ve been doing a great job for this district and you are one of the best in the country. You really are. I don’t want to ruin his reputation, but we vote a lot like.’
Beyer tweeted the clip of the above quote, where Biden called him Congressman Beyer.
‘Thanks for the kind words Mr. President!,’ wrote Beyer, who’s been in Congress for seven years. ‘Thrilled to hear @POTUS talk in Springfield today about the great economic news we’ve gotten recently, how we can keep making progress, and why we should reject Republican plans to cut Social Security and raise prices for working people.’
Overall, however, the president used his remarks to go after Republicans for trying to roll back his economic and social policies and for opposing raising the minimum wage and helping reduce the price of prescription drugs.
‘We’ve got to protect those gains that our policies have generated – protect them from the MAGA Republicans in the House of Representatives threatening to destroy this progress,’ he said in what the White House billed as his first major economic speech of the year.
President Joe Biden with Congressman Don Beyer (standing at the right in the back) during a May ceremony at the White House
Beyer tweeted about the speech – but not about being called the wrong name
The litany of attacks are part of a leadup to Biden’s campaign announcement, which is expected to come after his State of the Union address on February 7th.
‘They seem determined to be the party of chaos and catastrophe,’ he said of Republicans.
He is laying the foundation to announce he’s running for re-election by touting his work on the economy, blasting his political enemies in the GOP and courting wealthy Democrat donors to fill his campaign coffers.
‘They view the world from Park Avenue,’ he said of Republicans, repeating one of his favorite attack lines that Republicans favor the wealthy.
At times, Biden raised his vote to a shout as he railed against the GOP, who he claims want to hurt the lower and middle class while elevating the rich. He also used an old tactic – dropping to a whisper to emphasize a point.
He slammed the Republicans repeatedly as he spoke to union workers.
‘They want to raise your gas prices. They want to cut taxes for billionaires,’ Biden said. ‘They want to impose a 30 percent national sales tax.’
And he vowed to veto. ‘Not on my watch, I will veto everything they send us,’ he said.
‘I will veto them,’ he vowed in a whisper, after he criticized a Republican bill that would elimanate the IRS and impose a national sales tax at 30%.
And he got in a hit at Speaker Kevin McCarthy, noting that ‘I thought I heard today on the Speaker of the House says he’s not sure he’s for it.’
‘Bless me father for I have sinned,’ he joked.
The president was in a jovial mood, making jokes about his childhood where his parents had four kids and his grandparents.
‘I look back and wonder how the h*** my parents did it,’ he said, adding: ‘The walls were very thin.’
President Joe Biden arrives at Steamfitters Local 602 in Springfield, Va.
Several times during his remarks, Biden raised his voice to a shout several times to make his point
Biden hasn’t not made a formal re-election but said he intends to run. He’ll host fundraisers in Philadelphia and New York next week with the pace picking up in March, sources told Reuters.
Biden seems to be preparing to do battle with the GOP, acknowledging the current fight over raising the nation’s debt limit. Republicans want cuts in government spending to combat the problem while Biden wants it raised with no strings attached.
‘They’re actually threatening to have us default on American debt – debt that’s been accumulated over 230 years,’ he said of House Republicans.
‘I will not let anyone use the full faith and credit of the United States as a bargaining chip. You’re not as tasty in America. we pay our debts. It took 200 years to accumulate that debt.’
He also blamed the nation’s debt limit on President Donald Trump.
‘Look under my predecessor, the last guy that was president, the deficit went up four years in a row, accounting for 40% of the entire 200 years at that.’
The president’s speech came after news that the U.S. economy expanded at a 2.9% annual pace from October through December, ending 2022 with momentum following months of high inflation.
Biden touted the work he has done on the economy.
‘Economic growth is up stronger than experts expected,’ he said. ‘Over the past six months inflation has gone down every month and – God willing – will continue to do that.’
Biden has already started laying the ground work to attack Republicans as he prepares to launch a second term for the White House.
He’s referred to the GOP as ‘fiscally demented’ and he’s also blasted their national sales tax idea, saying it ‘would raise taxes on the middle class by taxing thousands of everyday items from groceries to gas, while cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans.’
Some economists argue a nationwide sales tax would leave low and middle income people worse off as the current, progressive tax system takes a larger percentage of income from high-earners than low-income group.
A national sales tax would be less progressive.
President Joe Biden talks to union workers after his speech
President Joe Biden looks his watch before telling the crowd that is unable to stay and talk after his speech because a train will be coming through in 15 minutes
President Biden waves goodbye as he leaves the union hall
Biden and his officials have touted their work on improving the economy. Inflation is slowly showing signs of going down as the cost of gas has been falling. It slowed for six straight months, going down to 6.5% after peaking at about 9% last summer.
The White House sees this as a win in their column and wants to use the momentum in other battles with McCarthy and his GOP chairman who now control the House – and will heavily investigation Biden, his family and his administration.
Additionally, the White House is expected to do battle with House Republicans over a variety of issues, including fighting their legislative proposals targeting Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs.
Some Republicans want to raise the Medicare eligibility to age 67 and lift the Social Security threshold to age 70 for younger workers and change the way benefits are calculated.
It’s part of the GOP’s plan to cut federal spending – a demand they are also making in their negotiations with Biden over raising the debt limit.
The White House also is trying to pivot the conversation after the president’s classified documents scandal took a new turn over the weekend when Biden’s personal attorney announced six more documents had been found at Biden’s Wilmington home after the Justice Department spent 13 hours on Friday searching the property.
Biden ended his remarks with an apology, noting he had to head out quickly because he was told a train was coming through in 15 minutes.
The president, a huge fan of Amtrak who used it to commute daily from Wilmington, Delaware to Washington D.C. during three decades in the Senate, acknowledged the train would wait for his motorcade to depart but he didn’t want it to.
‘I know they’ll wait for me but the last thing I want to do is keep the train from coming through,’ he said.
He noted he’d usually work the rope line but ‘I can’t do it right now because of that train.’
And, he joked, if staff were wrong about the time table ‘then they’re fired.’
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