Biden Stumps for Stimulus Where GOP Senate Seat Is in Play
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden traveled to Ohio on Tuesday to promote his $1.9 trillion stimulus, as Democrats take aim at a Senate seat that will be open in next year’s midterm elections.
The trip is Biden’s first to sell the American Rescue Plan in a state he lost in November. In a show of bipartisanship, the president was greeted at the Columbus airport by Mike DeWine, the state’s Republican governor who is favored to win re-election next year.
Ohio has long been considered a swing state in presidential elections, but Republicans have consolidated control in state-level elections in recent years. Biden lost Ohio by eight points in November to former President Donald Trump.
But Democrats -- who won Ohio with Barack Obama in the 2008 and 2012 elections -- see an opening after a surprise announcement by Republican Senator Rob Portman that he would not seek re-election.
Representative Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat considering a run for Portman’s seat, attended Biden’s remarks at the James Cancer Hospital.
Before departing Washington, Biden assailed the killing of 10 people at a Boulder, Colorado, supermarket, calling for Congress to pass expanded background checks and to again ban assault weapons.
In addition to celebrating his relief bill, which will send $1,400 payments to Americans who don’t earn high incomes and thousands more to those with children, Biden celebrated the 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, the landmark health-care legislation known as Obamacare.
“This is going to be life-changing,” Biden said of the payments from the stimulus.
Biden has faced criticism from Republicans for passing the stimulus without any of their votes. But the package has proved popular with Americans.
The measure increases subsidies for people who purchase insurance on state exchanges created under Obamacare, with the administration projecting that premiums will decrease on average $50 per month. The tax credits will become available next month and automatically apply to new enrollees; existing customers can update their plans to lower premiums.
Coupled with a new enrollment period for plans under the law, the tax credits have bolstered Obamacare enrollment after sustained efforts by the Trump administration to undermine the program. The Biden stimulus will also provide the opportunity for any American who received a week of unemployment benefits in 2021 to receive health-care insurance without paying a premium.
Separately on Tuesday, the administration announced it would extend the new Obamacare enrollment period to Aug. 15, from May 15. More than 200,000 people signed up in the first two weeks the option became available Feb. 15.
Between the stimulus and Obamacare, Biden said, “millions of families will be able to sleep more soundly at night.”
“We’re going to keep building until every American has that peace of mind,” he said.
Biden and other top administration officials have fanned out across the country to promote the benefits of the stimulus, with aides saying the president believes promoting it is important to both restore faith in the federal government and accrue political momentum as he readies a push for another $3 trillion in spending on infrastructure, climate programs and other Democratic priorities.
Biden has said that the Obama administration did not do enough to trumpet the advantages of legislation it helped craft, including the stimulus bill passed in response to the Great Recession.
That travel has largely focused on electorally significant swing states. On Tuesday, second gentleman Doug Emhoff was in Nebraska’s second congressional district – which went for Biden under the state’s split electoral system – while Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra traveled to Nevada.
During those trips, the White House has sought to highlight businesses and individuals that received direct assistance from the federal government. The hospital Biden plans to visit Tuesday received a $100 million grant under Obamacare to upgrade its oncology department, allowing it to increase the number of patients treated for cancer.
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