President Biden nicknamed his predecessor Donald Trump the “great MAGA king” Wednesday before claiming that “the MAGA crowd” downplayed massive food lines during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden took an increasingly aggressive tone attacking Trump as he sought to reframe the November midterm elections, which Republicans are favored to win in part due to soaring inflation they blame on Biden’s policies and government spending.
“My Republican colleagues said these programs to help the working class and middle class people, that’s actually — that’s why we have inflation. They’re dead wrong. Under my predecessor, the great MAGA king, the deficit increased every single year he was president,” Biden said in a speech to Chicago electrical union members.
At one point, Biden abruptly increased his volume to a near-shout and claimed that Trump adherents were indifferent to economic suffering in 2020 — despite the fact that Trump unilaterally extended some relief programs via executive order with Congress gridlocked after initial aid passed with overwhelming Republican support.
“Remember those long lines you’d see on television? People lining up in all kinds of vehicles just to get a box of food in their trunk? How quickly we forget. People were hurting. And what did the MAGA crowd want to do? Forget it. Forget it,” Biden claimed. “My God, this is the United States of America. The idea that people would have to wait in line an hour or an hour-and-a-half to get a box of food in their trunk — it’s just unbelievable.”
Biden made the remark while arguing his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act saved the US economy and did not spur inflation, for which he instead blames the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The president’s attack on his predecessor, who is teasing a possible 2024 rematch, came despite Trump and his most loyal allies being more eager to offer economic relief than some less “MAGA”-affiliated Republicans.
Then-first daughter Ivanka Trump organized a government program to distribute boxes of food and Trump pressed Republicans to extend enhanced unemployed pay and to give more generous stimulus checks.
Trump signed a series of executive orders in August 2020 that extended federal protections against eviction, created a new $300 weekly unemployment supplement and stalled student loan payments.
Trump in December 2020 requested $2,000 stimulus checks for most Americans — but congressional Republicans denied the request and approved only $600 checks. Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act last year included the $1,400 difference.
A study released in late March by researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco said that in the final quarter of 2021, about 3 percentage points of inflation — or nearly half of it — may have been caused by government pandemic spending.