President Joe Biden held his first presidential re-election campaign event on Saturday at the Philadelphia Convention Center, making strong appeals to his left-wing base.
Biden appeared alongside organized-labor activists and mentioned in the first few seconds of his oration that when he thinks of working Americans, he especially values the ones who associate with causes he finds politically congenial.
“Hello, Philadelphia!” he exclaimed. “Hello, organized labor! Union labor! There’s labor and there’s union labor!”
Early in his remarks, he observed he has the support of “every single environmental organization” as well as “every union” associated with the AFL-CIO.
“I’m proud to be the most pro-union president in American history,” he said. “I promised you I would be!”
Much evidence exists for the claim. Biden has urged Congress to pass the PRO Act, which would ban any state from enacting a right-to-work law freeing workers from contractual obligations to support labor associations. In his speech, he credited the middle class with building America and unions with building the middle class.
The latter assertion belies history. According to data from the Congressional Research Service, union membership as a percentage of employed Americans remained below 10 percent until the late 1930s and the figure never reached 30 percent. Now, union membership hovers around 10 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Biden went on to boast about what his progressive economic policies wrought in his first two and a half years, saying he oversaw the creation of 13 million new American jobs. Yet, as a recent House Budget Committee analysis pointed out, almost 72 percent of the increase were positions that returned after the government response to COVID-19 hammered the economy. Before the pandemic, President Donald Trump’s administration coincided with the creation of 6.7 million jobs, three million more new positions than those appearing under Biden.
The president then took the daring step of touting his record on inflation, even as year-over-year consumer price increases reached a 40-year high of 9.1 percent a year ago. The rate is now at 4 percent, still above the long-term average.
“Inflation has come down 11 months in a row and gonna continue to come down,” he said. “Today it’s less than half of what it was one year ago.”
To slow price increases, the Federal Reserve has undertaken repeated interest-rate hikes, with more to come this year.
Biden also recalled bailing out insolvent union pensions and spending copiously on infrastructure as well as $369 billion on anti-global-warming projects — initiatives he suggested will be especially lucrative for union members.
And the president’s expenditures, he insisted, did not exacerbate debt; he repeated a claim to have reduced the deficit by $1.7 billion, an assertion even the stridently pro-Biden network CNN blasted as dubious when the chief executive made it earlier this year. While the deficit did decrease by roughly that amount between Fiscal Years 2020 and 2022, nearly all of that reduction occurred due to the expiration of pandemic-era programs.
Biden rounded out his speech with promises for his second term, including taxing the wealthy more heavily.
“It’s time for everyone — I mean everyone, no matter how rich or powerful they are — to start paying their fair share,” he said.
Internal Revenue Service data indicate the top one percent of America’s wage earners provide over 42 percent of all federal income-tax revenue.
Advocates for less taxation, regulation and big-labor favoritism demurred to the president’s message.
“The growth of Washington through ideas like the PRO Act that strip more rights from workers or more status quo budget practices and spending that don’t tackle our debt are holding Pennsylvanians back…,” Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Pennsylvania director Ashley Klingensmith told The Pennsylvania Daily Star. “We can do better and Pennsylvanians are hopeful and ready for change.”
A grassroots organization, AFP has been promoting its “Prosperity Is Possible” campaign to relax constraints on America’s workforce, ease permitting processes to reduce energy costs and advance other free-market policies in contrast to the Biden agenda. When AFP members counter-demonstrated outside the president’s event, they heard from a Philadelphian and longtime union member named Jeff with whom Biden’s brand of populism didn’t resonate.
“Our union leaders try to convince us that these are the people we want to vote for, but they haven’t done anything to help us,” he said. “They have only hurt us and taken our jobs away.”
After Biden’s campaign address, the president took an aerial tour of portions of Interstate-95, sections of which collapsed in Philadelphia on June 11. He promised to administer as swift a repair process as possible.
“There’s no more important project right now in the country, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
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