(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden hailed this week’s budget agreement as proof of his ability to secure hard-won bipartisan victories, telling the nation it saved the US from an “economic crisis” brought on by a first-ever debt default.
Biden in his inaugural prime-time address from the Oval Office said he would sign the measure on Saturday, two days before the nation would have faced default. He sought to reassure the public that the global economy would not be shaken by doubts about the creditworthiness of the US.
“The stakes could not have been higher,” Biden said. “If we had failed to reach an agreement on the budget, there were extreme voices threatening to take America for the first time in our 247-year history into default on our national debt. Nothing would have been more irresponsible.”
The president throughout the 12-minute speech touted his reputation as a Washington dealmaker able to solve the country’s biggest problems by working across the aisle even during a hyperpolarized age. That is expected to be a central theme of his pitch to voters to reelect him in 2024.
“When I ran for president, I was told the days of bipartisanship were over, that Democrats and Republicans could no longer work together. But I refused to believe that. Because America can never give in to that way of thinking,” he said.
The deal Biden crafted with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy suspended the debt limit until Jan. 1, 2025 in exchange for curbs on government spending.
Read more: Striking a Deal: Debt-Limit Accord Emerged From Fitful Talks
At the same time, Biden touted the achievements of his first two years in office that Republicans tried but failed to roll back in the budget negotiations, including his signature climate, health and tax law. He also vowed to pursue higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, while protecting entitlement programs for seniors and the poor.
“I’m going to be coming back and with your help, I’m going to win,” Biden said.
The president also acknowledged the doubts of many, including some of his allies in Congress who opposed the agreement, and commended McCarthy for negotiating in a “straightforward” and “honest” way.
“No one got everything they wanted but the American people got what they needed,” Biden said. “We’re protecting important priorities from Social Security to Medicare to Medicaid to veterans to our transformational investments in infrastructure and clean energy.”
The agreement is projected to cut federal deficits by about $1.5 trillion over a decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Friday’s address was an attempt by the president to get the final word on the contentious debt and budget negotiations. Biden had said little publicly about the talks, which frustrated some of his Democratic allies but likely helped create an environment that allowed both sides to compromise.
The deal was only finalized after months of contentious back-and-forth between Biden and McCarthy. Negotiators raced to craft an agreement before June 5, the date Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had said the US would run out of cash to pay its bills by if Congress did not raise or suspend the borrowing limit.
The House passed the measure on Wednesday and it was approved by the Senate a day later. The Treasury Department signaled that a weekend signing provides enough time to keep payments flowing.
Read more: US Treasury Cash Pile and Debt-Ceiling Special Measures Dwindle
The deal contains victories for both sides. It delays another partisan standoff over the debt limit until after the 2024 election, removing the another default threat that could have slowed job growth that Biden has used as one of his biggest selling points to voters.
It changed the trajectory on federal spending, capping funding for defense and domestic programs for two years, while easing permitting rules for some energy and infrastructure projects and clawing back some funding for Internal Revenue Service agents and Covid-19 relief.
Still, many lawmakers on the right and left criticized its terms, and some who supported it said they voted for it reluctantly. House conservatives said the spending cuts did not go far enough, while some Senate Republicans balked at limits on defense spending.
Progressives criticized new work requirements for older Americans receiving food assistance and the approval of the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline. Some Democrats have worried that flagging enthusiasm from base voters could dampen Biden’s chances of winning a second term.
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