President Joe Biden speaks about his economic plan at the Flex LTD manufacturing plant on July 6, 2023 in West Columbia, South Carolina. Sean Rayford/Getty Images
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden traveled Thursday to South Carolina — home of the first-in-the-nation 2024 Democratic presidential primary as well as two GOP presidential candidates — to rebuke Republicans for voting against bills in Congress that are now providing billions in federal dollars.
“All those members of Congress who voted against it, suddenly realize how great it is. And they’re bragging about it,” Biden said. “As my mother would say, ‘God love ’em.’”
Biden’s criticism of GOP lawmakers is part of an ongoing strategy from the White House, in which the president and top officials call out Republicans who voted against key bills, but then cheer and promote the federal cash those laws funnel to their home states.
Biden on Thursday chastised the South Carolina GOP lawmakers who voted against the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act as well as those who sought to block bipartisan legislation, like the infrastructure law and the CHIPS and Science Act, which was designed to boost investment in semiconductors and provide funding for scientific research.
“That hasn’t stopped them, though, from claiming credit now that billions of dollars and thousands of jobs are coming to the United States,” Biden said.
GOP presidential candidates
South Carolina is home to two Republican presidential contenders, with U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and former Gov. Nikki Haley both in the running to possibly face Biden in the general election in November 2024.
Biden lost South Carolina during the general election in 2020, receiving 43% of the vote compared to Donald Trump’s 55%. The state holds nine Electoral College votes, and has eight Republicans and one Democrat representing it in Congress.
Scott said on FOX News’ “America’s Newsroom” earlier Thursday that Biden should use the stop in South Carolina to apologize for policies his administration has pushed, arguing they have spurred inflation and increased the price of everyday goods like groceries and gas.
“I hope he is going to start his apology tour here in South Carolina because what the president wants the American people to do is to believe what he says and not what we see with our own eyes,” Scott said.
Haley tweeted that Biden’s economic policies, which the White House is calling “Bidenomics,” have led to “record-breaking inflation and wiped out people’s savings.”
“South Carolinians are still paying more for gas and groceries than they did before Bidenomics,” Haley wrote. “If Joe Biden really thinks Bidenomics is working, he definitely needs to take a mental competency test.”
White House targets Republican votes
Biden didn’t specifically mention Scott or Haley during his speech, but a fact sheet from the White House sought to highlight that Scott as well as Republican U.S. House Reps. Jeff Duncan, Nancy Mace, William Timmons and Joe Wilson voted against some of the legislation that Biden spoke about.
The fact sheet said that “if most South Carolina Republican Members of Congress had their way, the state would have lost out on over $2.6 billion in infrastructure funding and nearly $1 billion in funding for high-speed internet for South Carolina.”
After touring Flex LTD in West Columbia, South Carolina, Biden spoke from the facility about how the bills Congress has passed and actions he’s taken as president have impacted the economy.
Biden touted several economic indicators during the speech, including that more than 13 million jobs have been created since he took office, that unemployment has remained below 4% for the longest stretch in the last half century and that inflation has dropped to about half of what it was last year.
Biden, however, noted there are still ways he and his administration are hoping to boost the economy.
“I’m not here to declare victory on the economy. I’m here to say we have a plan that’s turning things around quickly,” Biden said. “But we have a lot more work to do.”
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