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Breaking down President Biden's latest budget proposal

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

President Biden rolled out a $6.9 trillion budget proposal today with a speech in a Philadelphia union hall.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: An expression of my dad - will you show me your budget? I will tell you what you value. Well, folks, let me tell you what I value with the budget I'm releasing today.

SHAPIRO: This budget is more a statement of values than a roadmap for what Congress will actually pass. Presidential budgets are required by law. Biden's gives a likely preview of what he'll run on when he launches his expected reelection campaign. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith is here in the studio to tell us about it. Hey, Tam.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Before we get to the politics, let's start with a substance. In the lead-up to the budget's release, the White House talked a lot about deficit reduction, bringing spending more in line with revenue. Now that the budget is out, how close does it come to doing that?

KEITH: This is not an austerity budget. It includes pages and pages of programs that Biden says will make life easier for working families - things like paid family leave, college affordability, universal free preschool. It calls for increased spending on border security and continued support for Ukraine. It also notably extends the life of Medicare by 20 years by allowing more negotiation on prescription drug prices and also by raising taxes on the wealthy.

SHAPIRO: Is that how this is paid for, by raising taxes?

KEITH: Yes. Taxing the rich and large corporations is a major feature of this budget. It calls for closing what the White House calls tax loopholes for oil and drug companies. It would include rolling back some of the tax breaks passed by Republicans during the Trump administration and getting rid of other tax breaks that have been around for even longer. Biden argued that this was all just a matter of fairness.

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BIDEN: No billionaire should be paying a lower tax than somebody working as a schoolteacher or a firefighter or any of you in this room.

KEITH: I do have to say this was really a campaign-style event. And Biden appears to be gearing up for a campaign that will focus on reaching middle- and working-class voters with an economic pitch.

SHAPIRO: Presidential budgets are typically dead on arrival in Congress no matter who is in power. Of course, right now Republicans control the House. So what are your expectations for where this budget's going to go?

KEITH: Oh, it's dead on arrival.

SHAPIRO: OK.

KEITH: And the White House knows it. But that doesn't appear to be the point here. Much of what Biden calls for in this budget are ideas and proposals that he campaigned on three years ago. And the White House has jammed our inboxes with polls showing how popular many of these ideas are with the American people. And so even though Republicans say this proposal isn't serious and there's no chance they would support tax increases like this, this budget is an opening offer from Biden, both in negotiations with Congress over raising the debt ceiling and in funding the government.

SHAPIRO: So Biden has now said, all right, America, here's what I want to do. Have Republicans in Congress done the same?

KEITH: Yeah. Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that this budget proposal was completely unserious and that Washington has a spending problem, not a tax problem. And he was critical of President Biden for not sitting down with him and just sort of hashing out a budget compromise. Biden responded to that today in his remarks, saying he would be happy to meet with McCarthy just as soon as he releases his own budget. House Republicans aren't yet saying what they will do. They say that they need cuts in order to raise the debt ceiling, but they haven't yet said what they will cut. And they don't want to cut Medicare or defense, which leaves a pretty small piece of the overall pie where they would have to get all these big cuts that they're asking for.

SHAPIRO: NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Thanks for your reporting.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.