WASHINGTON — President Biden will travel to Syracuse, N.Y., on Thursday to highlight investments in semiconductor manufacturing and make a last-ditch attempt to win over voters on inflation, the economic issue that is dragging on Democrats ahead of the midterm elections.
At a time when polls show that voters disapprove of the president’s handling of rising prices and trust Republicans more on the issue, Mr. Biden will seek to frame the elections as a choice between his administration’s ongoing efforts to lower costs for families and Republican aspirations to cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy — which could fuel even higher inflation — and other plans that Mr. Biden says would raise health care and electricity costs.
Senior administration officials told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that Mr. Biden would use his trip to celebrate the chip maker Micron’s announcement this month that it would spend up to $100 billion to build a manufacturing complex in the Syracuse region over the next 20 years, creating up to 50,000 jobs in the process. Company officials said that investment was enabled by a bipartisan advanced manufacturing bill that Mr. Biden championed and signed into law earlier this year.
The administration officials said the area exemplified a community benefiting from Mr. Biden’s economic policies, which have also included a bipartisan infrastructure bill approved in 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act, signed late this summer, which raises taxes on corporations, seeks to reduce prescription drug costs for seniors and invests hundreds of billions of dollars into new energy technologies to reduce the fossil fuel emissions driving climate change.
They also said it was the right backdrop for Mr. Biden to amplify the contrast he has sought to draw with Republicans on inflation. Republican candidates have campaigned on rolling back some of the tax increases Mr. Biden imposed to fund his agenda, extending business and individual tax cuts passed by Republicans in 2017 that are set to expire in the coming years, reducing federal regulations on energy development and other business and repealing the Inflation Reduction Act.
The State of the 2022 Midterm Elections
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In a memo released by the White House on Thursday morning, officials sought to frame those Republican proposals as potential fuel for further inflation, posing a risk to families struggling with high prices. “Their economic plan will raise costs and make inflation worse,” administration officials wrote.
The memo suggests that among his other attacks in Syracuse, Mr. Biden will hit Republicans for what he says is an effort to raise costs for student borrowers. Several Republican-led states have sued to stop his plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt for qualifying individuals.
Mr. Biden has struggled in recent weeks to persuade voters to view inflation as an issue that shows the contrasts between him and Republicans, rather than a referendum on his presidency and policies.
Polls suggest the economy and rapid price growth, which touched a 40-year high this year, are top of mind for voters as they determine control of the House and Senate. Nearly half of all registered voters in a New York Times/Siena College poll this month named economic issues or inflation as the most important issue facing the country, dwarfing other issues in the survey, like abortion. Other polls have shown voters trust Republicans more than Mr. Biden and his party to handle inflation.
Through the start of this month, Republican candidates had spent nearly $150 million on inflation-themed television ads across the country this election cycle, according to data from AdImpact. Those ads blame Democratic policies under Mr. Biden, including the $1.9 trillion economic relief package he signed in 2021, for inflation; economists generally agree that the spending helped fuel some price growth but disagree on how much.
Mr. Biden previewed his renewed attacks on Republicans on Wednesday evening, in a trio of virtual fund-raisers for Democratic members of Congress. In each one, Mr. Biden focused almost exclusively on economic issues, championing the laws he has signed and warning that Republicans would seek to roll them back.
The president criticized Republicans for promoting what he called “mega-MAGA trickle-down economics,” and he said the tax cuts Republicans support risk creating turmoil in financial markets. He drew a direct parallel between the Republican proposals and the tax cuts for high earners in Britain pushed by former Prime Minister Liz Truss, which prompted a harsh backlash in financial markets that led Ms. Truss to resign after a brief tenure.
“You read about what happened in England recently, and the last prime minister, she wanted to cut taxes for the superwealthy — it caused economic chaos in the country,” Mr. Biden said. “Well, that’s what they did last time, and they want to do it again.”