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Biden to defend health-care spending, ridicule possible GOP cuts

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President Biden is planning to mount a vigorous defense of his health-care policies as he ramps up criticism of Republican proposals that he argues could threaten the Affordable Care Act and Medicare.

Biden is traveling to Virginia Beach on Tuesday afternoon as part of a new line of attack that puts the White House and congressional Republicans on a collision course over possible budget cuts. Some top Republicans have threatened to vote against raising the debt ceiling — which would cause the federal government to default on its loans within a few months — unless Biden agrees to significant cuts in federal spending.

“He’ll discuss how MAGA Republicans in Congress are threatening default and an economic catastrophe unless they can force through a deeply unpopular agenda,” Kate Berner, principal deputy director of communications at the White House, said on a call with reporters on Monday.

Biden’s attempt to focus on health-care coverage is the next front in an ongoing debate he has been having with Republicans — one that broke into the open most publicly during his State of the Union address, when he was heckled by some Republicans as he disparaged their proposals that could risk cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

Republicans have largely backed away from any discussion of cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Mon. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who previously wanted Congress to vote every five years on all government programs, recently amended his plan to make exceptions for Medicare and Social Security.

But Republicans are still committed to balancing the budget, which could require cuts in large government programs. With Republicans largely refraining from offering details on where those cuts would come from, Biden is trying to focus on an area of ​​spending that is large — but one that, because of its popularity, might become politically problematic for Republicans to cut.

“Congresssional Republicans have committed themselves to very deep cuts to programs that tens of millions of Americans count on,” said Aviva Aron-Dine, deputy director of the National Economic Council. “The president believes that they owe the American people transparency about what that will mean. If they won’t provide it, he will.”

“The best guide to what’s going to be on the chopping block is what has been on the chopping block in virtually every single Republican budget and fiscal plan over the last decade,” he added. “The guidepost is the plans that they’ve proposed, not just once or twice, but repeatedly over the last decade that would meet these health-care programs.”

White House aides have cited a proposal by Russell Vought, a former budget director in the Trump administration who has been advising congressional Republicans. The Washington Post reported last week that his proposal includes $2 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and more than $600 billion in cuts to the Affordable Care Act.

During his speech in Virginia Beach, Biden will be introduced by a woman who got insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Although Biden has said that he believes the debt ceiling should be raised regardless, he has also said that he is open to separate discussions about fiscal policy and potential spending cuts. White House officials on Monday did not say explicitly whether he invested any cuts to the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid would be off the table in those discussions.

Biden’s own budget proposal will be released on March 9, where administration officials say he will outline plans to build on the Affordable Care Act and bolster Medicaid.