Aboard Air Force One
En Route Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
12:36 P.M. EST
MS. DALTON: Okay. Good afternoon, everyone. As you all know, we’re on our way to Philadelphia, where the President will lay out his budget for the American people.
This year’s budget comes at a critical moment for our country and a time when the President’s economic strategy is working. The economy has added 12 million jobs. The unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest level in more than 50 years. And we just had the two strongest years for new small business applications on record.
OMB Director Shalanda Young is here with me to say a few words about the budget and has time for just a couple of questions on this very busy day for her and on this short flight. But I want to let you know that she and CEA Chair Cecilia Rouse will be in the briefing room tomorrow, so we’ll take all of your questions at that time as well.
Over to you, Shalanda.
DIRECTOR YOUNG: All right, it’s kind of a big day for someone who is Budget Director. This is kind of our Super Bowl, so I’m very excited.
When you hear the President talk about budgets, he says, “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”
This is not about numbers on a spreadsheet, and we have to remember that. And that’s why you’ll hear us talk about this budget being built around four values:
How do we invest in Americans. That means everything from instituting paid leave in this country, boosting manufacturing, lowering taxes for working families, as a contrast to some of our friends on the other side of the aisle.
Second value is protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare, again, in contrast to some on the other side of the aisle who want to cut those programs. We not only protect but we would lengthen Medicare by at least 25 years.
We also reduced the deficit. We do all those great things and still would reduce the deficit over 10 years by nearly $3 trillion. That’s in contrast to those on the other side of the aisle. You add up their various ideas, they would actually add $3 trillion to the deficit.
So we’re going to talk a lot this budget season about values, and we’re going to talk a lot about what the other side values. And that leads me to: We’ve put out a plan today; they need to put out a plan. They owe that to the American people.
This has all been tied into fiscal talks. This President, remember, presided over $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction his first two years. His budget adds to that, as I talked about, by showing how we can reduce the deficit by three more trillion.
And we welcome a debate on how we can be fiscally responsible, but we also have to do it in a way that doesn’t cut the legs out from working families.
So we’re going to show how we can invest in American people all while being fiscally responsible by asking the wealthiest to begin to pay their fair share in this country.
MS. DALTON: Darlene, do you want to kick us off?
Q Yes, I have one question for the director. So, the budget proposal includes reversals to the 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. Does it also include the cost of extending the 2017 cuts that went to the middle class and are set to expire in 2025?
DIRECTOR YOUNG: Thank you for that. Remember: 2025. We’re talking about a ‘24 budget. But we do speak to the tax cuts from 2017 because we want to be crystal clear about our principles here.
This President has an ironclad commitment. He will not support a penny of new taxes for those making under $400,000. Full stop. That includes ensuring that they don’t lose out when these tax cuts expire.
But we do think there’s a way to do this in a fiscally responsible way. Remember, those tax cuts were skewed to the wealthy. Should — should that be? Or should we focus on those under $400,000? We think that’s where the focus should be. And then we ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share. We can actually make sure working-class families keep their taxes low while we do it in a fiscally responsible way and pay for that.
I know that is a novel approach to cutting taxes — paying for them — but we think that’s the way to do this.
MS. DALTON: Nandita.
Q And on — sorry. Go — go ahead.
Q Thank you. Just a quick question on what Republicans are saying and how they’re reacting to the proposal. They seem to suggest that there’s very little common ground. I was hoping to get your thoughts on, you know, the criticism, largely, that’s coming in, saying that the President is really not willing to make any spending cuts, but he is raising taxes and that’s all that they’re trying to do.
DIRECTOR YOUNG: Well, what do you call “spending”? They don’t call tax giveaways and loopholes that corporations and wealthy people have taken advantage of in this country for far too long “spending.” What they call “spending” is food assistance for working families, childcare. I have a 16-month-old. Tell me what childcare costs, and — I don’t know how families are making it.
Don’t focus there. That’s what we’re saying. Close loopholes. Take these subsidies away from Big Oil. Do they really need to get $31 billion from the taxpayers? If we close those loopholes, literally, with Big Oil and Gas — $31 billion. Or do you cut food from families? We think there is a choice. That’s what we call cutting wasteful spending.
Q Director, just to sort of understand that better, in terms of sort of proposals that can find any kind of common ground and realistic GOP support, what do you think those are?
DIRECTOR YOUNG: So, remember, this President worked with congressional Republicans the last two years. I know they don’t trumpet those — Bipartisan Infrastructure Law; bipartisan veterans act — the PACT Act, bipartisan; CHIPS and Science, bipartisan.
He has a record, even when Democrats controlled all of Congress, of working with Republicans. Thirty — over thirty years in the Senate, he has a record.
Of course we’re going to work with Republicans; we did in December. We know how to do this. This is not novel. We just did a bipartisan funding bill in December. That’s going to continue.
Appropriations bills, which I worked on — I was a staff director of the House Committee for a long time. We worked with Republicans to get government spending done every year. Is it tough? Yes. But we always find common ground.
MS. DALTON: Okay, I’m really sorry. We got to leave it there. She’s got a busy day.
If you can make it real quick —
Q Just one question —
MS. DALTON: — Akayla. Real quick.
Q — on — Speaker McCarthy and Leader McConnell have both said they don’t support tax increases. Can the President still bring down the deficit without those tax increases and pay for all of these other programs?
DIRECTOR YOUNG: Oh, I’ll take it back to high-level. How — how do you suppose we, again, cut the leg out from the middle class and working families and not ask the wealthiest in this country to kick in a little more?
Do oil and gas companies — closing that loophole alone saves $30 billion. So we’re going to keep making that argument.
Q But is there absolute hardlines —
MS. DALTON. I’m so- —
Q — for you? Is there absolute hardlines, things that you think absolutely have to get done in the next budget?
DIRECTOR YOUNG: The next budget has — one, what do you call a budget? If you’re talking about the appropriations process, of course, we have to work together. We always do. It’s bipartisan. Has to be passed, some version of it, by October 1. And, of course, we’ll find a way to get it done.
MS DALTON: Thank you so much.
(Cross-talk by reporters.)
Thank you so much. She’s so busy today. She’s going to be back tomorrow in the briefing room, promise.
Q Would you take one on Ukraine, Olivia?
MS. DALTON: Yes. Absolutely.
Q Maybe a reaction to the very intense shelling last night and the use of ballistic missiles by the Russians?
MS. DALTON: Yes, absolutely. You’re referring to the nearly — the around 80 missiles that were launched across Ukraine last night really targeted, it appears, towards civilian infrastructure, which was heavily damaged with the apparent intent of cutting off heating, electricity, and other critical necessities to Ukraine.
We saw 11 Ukrainians lost their lives so far. And, of course, that’s devastating a year into this — more than a year into this deadly war that Russia is prosecuting against Ukraine that has been so unjustified, unprovoked.
You know, the United States continues to provide air defense capabilities to Ukraine and to make sure, in concert with our allies and partners across the globe, that we’re providing what they need to meet this moment.
But, of course, devastating to see these brutal, unjustified attacks on civilian infrastructure across Ukraine.
Q Regarding this trip today, the President has been to Philadelphia many times to sell his agenda. Is there a risk to focusing so heavily on Pennsylvania that the White House ends up neglecting other swing states, like Georgia, Nevada, and Michigan?
MS. DALTON: Well, look, I’m not going to speak to elections, but I think you know that Pennsylvania is — this is a President who was born and raised in Scranton. Pennsylvania is a second home. I think you guys are going to be to Philly a few more times — (laughs) — this year, I would — I would venture to guess.
Look, we’re headed to a union hall today where working-class Americans are going to feel the impact of a budget designed to lower costs for working people, designed to bring back manufacturing jobs in this country and invest in America, designed to protect Social Security and Medicare programs that folks like these have paid into their entire lives.
These are the people who are going to feel the impact of the budget that we’re rolling out today. And the President feels it’s incredibly important to speak directly to them.
Q Can you tell us —
Q Olivia, has the President reached out to Senator McConnell or his family to get an update on him?
MS. DALTON: Yeah, I don’t have a call to read out. But I do want to say that the President and the First Lady saw the news about Senator McCo- — or Leader McConnell’s hospitalization last night, and they are both wishing Leader McConnell a swift recovery and sending him their best wishes to get well soon.
Q Can you tell us any —
Q And another one —
Q Last night, Kevin McCarthy said that the President hadn’t even reached out to re- — to schedule another meeting for them to discuss the budget plans. When does the President want to have this discussion with Leader McCarthy? Why — why hasn’t he — he scheduled that yet?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, I have to say: Look at what we’re doing today. The President, after meeting with Speaker McCarthy, said he was going to put forward a budget; lay out his budget, which is a statement of values, as you just heard Director Young say, for the American people; and that he asked the House Republicans to put out their budget.
Today, the President is putting out a budget that reflects his values — values that will not be unfamiliar to you. He’s talked about growing the economy from the bottom up and the middle out since the earliest days of his campaign. And he’s continued to deliver on that progress through the last two years. And today, he’s talking about how we build on that progress and carry it forward.
What he’s continued to call on House Republicans to do is put forward their plan. So far, we have not seen that plan. And I think you’ll hear the President continue to ask the House Republicans to lay that — that — that plan out for the American people to detail what their commitments are.
And if they want to have a discussion, that has got to be the basis. They’ve got to share what they’re willing to put forward with the American people and be transparent about that.
Q Can you (inaudible) anything on the President’s travel to Canada this month?
MS. DALTON: Don’t have any details on the travel to preview at this moment, but we hope to have more to share with you very soon on what he and —
MS. DALTON: It will still occur this month, but don’t have any details quite yet beyond that. We look forward to sharing with you very soon what he and the Prime Minister intend to discuss.
Q Can you tell us anything more about Biden’s meeting with the President of Finland and, specifically, Finland’s bid to join NATO?
MS. DALTON: Sure, I think you may have seen that the President dropped by a meeting this morning with the President of Finland and with NS- — NSA Sullivan.
At that meeting, he reiterated our, you know, strong support for Finland’s swift accession to NATO, as well as our joint commitment to standing in solidarity with Ukraine in the face of Russia’s aggression.
12:47 P.M. EST