President Joe Biden did not shy away from pitching the virtues of clean energy on his trip home to Scranton, Pennsylvania, while claiming his trillion-dollar cradle-to-grave social welfare and climate spending package would not add to the federal deficit.
Biden, who irked Pennsylvanians during the 2020 campaign with his fracking positions, told a crowd at Scranton's Electric City Trolley Museum coal may have "built this town, but we've got to provide other avenues to make the same kind of living."
"It's real,” Biden said Wednesday of clean energy. "I promise you, I won't be around to see it. But I promise you, your kids are going to see a time when they're not, in fact, generating any energy from the homes here in Scranton."
Biden traveled to Scranton so he could evoke his past as he tries to push negotiations over his social welfare and climate spending package forward toward an agreement. He and other Democrats are marketing the package as "Scranton" versus "Park Avenue," which is meant to be a dig at former President Donald Trump, despite Trump Tower in Manhattan being on Fifth Avenue.
"I started here in Scranton, and I resolved to bring Scranton values to bear, to make a fundamental shift in how our economy works for working people, to build the economy from the ground up and the middle out, not from the top down," Biden said.
Biden, White House aides, and congressional Democrats are attempting to form a framework for the roughly $2 trillion spending package by the end of this week so the House can vote on the Senate-passed $1.2 trillion bipartisan bricks-and-mortar infrastructure deal next week before the president flies to the United Kingdom and Italy. Democrats hope clearing the infrastructure deal will help Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe in his Nov. 2 election after progressive House lawmakers delayed considering it as leverage for talks regarding the bigger package.
Spending package discussions have been slow due to Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, among others, contending its price tag is too expensive as the economy grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden sought to address those concerns by alleging the package would not contribute to the national debt.
"When you talk about the number, we shouldn't even talk about the numbers because it's all paid for, written in the same piece of legislation," he said.
Democrats disagree on the scope of many of the package's proposed programs, as well as how to pay for it. Biden, for instance, says he will not raise taxes on anyone earning less than $400,000 a year, but the package includes new levies on cigarettes, cigars, and vaping products.
The president regaled the audience with familiar stories about riding Amtrak."I commuted every single day for 36 years as vice president of the United States," Biden misspoke, in what was a reference to his years as a senator from Delaware.
Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, better known for being the backdrop of NBC's The Office, before he and his family moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where Biden is still based.
"No matter how long you live here in Scranton, it's a place that climbs in your heart, and it never really leaves you," he said. "Home is where your character is etched."
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Original Author: Naomi Lim