‘Yes and yes,’ he said to a thunderous round of applause.
‘By the way, I waited until July, to talk about mandating, because I tried everything else possible.
‘Mandates are working.’
Biden traveled to Baltimore for the town hall, where he delivered his most wide-ranging update yet on talks to break the deadlock on his mammoth social spending plans.
In a headline-packed 90 minutes he said he was dropping proposals to pay for the plans with a corporate tax hike, that he was considering sending in the National Guard to ease supply chain problems, and would defend Taiwan if it as attacked.
But he also defended his stance on vaccine mandates in uncompromising terms.
The U.S. has lagged behind other wealthy nations in vaccinating people against COVID-19.
A series of mandates for federal workers and for companies with more than 100 staff triggered angry protests and reports of people being fired or resigning in protest.
Hours before the town hall, Republican senators wrote to the White House demanding that Biden back down.
Biden delivered a furious riposte, ridiculing those who argued the mandates were an infringement of their freedom and condemning misinformation.
President Joe Biden said he supported the firing of police officers and emergency responders who refused to get vaccinated during a CNN town hall on Thursday evening
Biden traveled to Baltimore for the event and a chance to address voters directly about COVID-19 and his massive spending plans that have divided Washington
It was Biden’s third CNN town hall – the second with Anderson Cooper – since taking office
Protests against COVID-19 vaccination mandates have spread around the country. Pictured here are protesters marching through New York City as a mandate went into effect for public school employees at the start of the month
‘Two things that concern me: One, are those who just try to make this a political issue – freedom. “I have the freedom to kill you with my COVID.”
‘Come on,’ he said.
Then he criticized what he called ‘misinformation’ about the death of former Secretary of State Colin Powell that focused on the fact he was fully vaccination.
‘Well he knew he had serious underlying conditions, and it would be difficult,’ said Biden.
‘He clearly would have been gone earlier had he not gotten the vaccine.’
Earlier he was quizzed on his plans for a multi trillion dollar social spending plan, which is currently deadlocked in Washington.
Progressives want to push through a massive overhaul of social spending while centrists – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin – are pushing to reduce the price of the bill from its original $3.4 trillion.
Biden offered the centrists a concession, backing away from a corporate tax hike to pay for his Build Back Better agenda.
The event, in front of an invited audience, was a chance to deliver his message directly to the public while his own party remains split.
President Biden appeared at a CNN town hall on Thursday evening, and announced he was scaling back his spending plans and would not need to ramp up corporate tax
It marked the third time Biden has appeared on a CNN town hall since becoming president
Host Anderson Cooper pressed him on whether he would be able to push through a proposed increase in corporate take to help fund trillions of dollars in new spending.
‘No, I don’t think we’re going to be able to get the votes,’ he said.
His plan called for an increase in the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent for the biggest companies, triggering warnings that it could hamper growth and that the costs would be passed on to workers and consumers.
‘I’m prepared to do the things that we can get done now, that can begin to change the lives of ordinary Americans to give them a fighting chance and come back and try to get others later,’ he said.
As Biden seeks a final agreement in coming days, questions have emerged about whether some of his most oft-cited promises, like raising taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans might have to be dropped to ensure passage of the spending bill
Biden also explained that he had reduced his vision for paid parental leave.
‘It is down to four weeks,’ he said. ‘I can’t get 12 weeks.’
Biden says he is considering sending the National Guard in to fix the supply chain crisis and drive trucks at backed-up ports: Blames the problems and labor shortages on COVID
President Biden said that he would ‘absolutely’ consider sending in the National Guard to help alleviate the supply chain crisis, even by driving trucks.
‘The answer is yes,’ the president said during the CNN town hall after being asked whether he would send in the guard to alleviate supply chain issues that are leading to product shortages and rampant inflation.
‘Absolutely, positively,’ he added.
Asked if he would consider sending in the guard to drive trucks, the president said: ‘Yes, if we can’t increase the number of truckers.’
Biden said his first goal was ‘to get the ports up and running,’ before he would call up the guard.
Haulage companies are offering six-figure salaries and $15,000 sign-on bonuses while struggling to attract 80,000 new drivers who are needed to relieve the nation’s supply crisis.
Thousands of containers are unloaded from a ship at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, while dozens of large container ships wait to be unloaded offshore Wednesday
Thousands of containers sit, waiting to be loaded on trucks and trains, as large container ships are unloaded from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach
But industry experts said more drivers won’t alleviate the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach backlog, where an empty shipping container fiasco is preventing trucks from moving product to consumers.
Facing an exodus of 600,000 retiring truckers by 2028, the transportation industry is desperate to recruit more people and estimates that 80,000 new hires are needed this year to offset attrition and clear a backed-up supply chain.
US Foods, seeking a Northern Californian with a commercial driver’s license (CDL), is offering a $15,000 sign-up bonus and a $1,000 quarterly bonus to candidates willing to work for $38.50 an hour.
And last June, JK Moving Services said it would guarantee its qualified drivers a salary of at least $100,000 as ‘market demands grow and the pool of qualified candidates shrinks.’
It’s all happening as shipping backlogs delay cripple the supply chain, with Christmas toys and holiday goodies among the items stranded in the Pacific as freightliners queue for weeks to unload cargo.
A group of 160 Republican lawmakers have addressed the importance of fixing the supply chain crisis in a letter to President Joe Biden while attacking his embattled spending proposals.
The letter, led and signed by Representative Sam Graves, was sent to Biden on Wednesday in an attempt to further address the urgency of the crisis.
The president has conducted only 10 interviews during his time in office, far fewer than his immediate predecessors.
Thursday marked the third time he has appeared at a CNN town hall since taking office, with members of the public asking questions rather than the intensive grilling of a one-on-on interview.
His social spending plan remains deadlocked between progressives who want to push through a huge overhaul of social spending and centrists – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin – who want to reduce the price of the bill from its original $3.4 trillion.
Biden immediately faced questions about whether he could bring around the holdouts in his own party, particularly Manchin.
‘Joe’s not a bad guy,’ said Biden. ‘He’s a friend and he’s always the end of the day come around.’
At the start of the evening he also said he believed he was close to a deal pass infrastructure and massive social spending plans after weeks of intraparty bickering.
‘I think so, you know, look … I was a senator for 370 years,’ he said triggering laughter.
‘I was relatively good at putting together deals.’
But he pushed back at proposals that parents and other caregivers meet a work requirement before receiving a child tax credit.
‘No, here’s the deal. All these people are working anyway,’ he said, as he signaled that he wanted to target the wealthy.
‘And by the way, you know, why should somebody who is not working, and has, you know, makes has a million dollar trust fund, why should they get the benefit?’
Biden has given just 10 interviews in his first nine months in office, falling well short of his two immediate predecessors Donald Trump and Barack Obama who had done 57 and 131, according to Mark Knoller, a former CBS News White House correspondent who maintains a tally.
And the pace of those interviews has slowed – five came in Biden’s first two months in office.
President Biden left the White House with the first lady for the short trip to Baltimore on Thursday evening for a CNN town hall. It is his third appearance at such an event since taking office but he trails his predecessors for number of interviews
By this time in their first term, President Trump had conducted 57 interviews and President Obama, pictured in June, had done 131
This will be Biden’s third CNN town hall since taking office
Critics within his own party see a siege mentality in a president even as he reaches a crucial moment in steering his massive spending plans through Congress.
‘The guy has always been a gaffe machine. He loves talking but the people around him want to keep him under wraps,’ said a Democratic strategist who asked speak on background in order to freely discuss White House strategy.
‘This is one way to do it but you lose a bit of what makes Joe tick.’
Biden found himself in familiar territory on Thursday.
The town hall was compered by Cooper who was also master of ceremonies in February for his first town hall as president.
His last one-to-one interview was more than two months ago, with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News – an alumnus of the Clinton White House.
But it was followed by days of fact checking misleading claims, from the number of Afghan troops to whether or not there were U.S. troops in Syria.
White House officials play down the significance of interviews, pointing out that the president has frequently taken a handful of questions from reporters attending events.
But that gives him the ability to pick and choose what he answers, say presidential observers, and allow him to simply walk away when he wants to.
Thursday’s town hall will be held before an invited audience.
‘Joe Biden can sometimes get off message so putting him in unscripted environments might not be the best way of Joe Biden communicating,’ Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons told The Hill.
Biden’s last one-on-one interview was with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on August 18
Even so Biden himself has joked about the way his aides prefer him not to get chatty.
‘I’m not suppose to take any questions,’ he said, during a visit to FEMA headquarters in August, ‘but go ahead.’
On that occasion he quickly brushed off a question about trouble in Afghanistan and walked away from reporters.
In May, he took a couple of questions after a COVID-19 update but said: ‘I’m not supposed to be answering all these questions.’
White House press secretary Jen Psaki admitted that was how officials wanted him to play it.
‘This is not something we recommend,’ she told David Axelrod, the former Obama adviser, during an interview for his podcast.
‘In fact, a lot of times we say, “Don’t take questions.”‘
Republicans have used Biden’s lack of interviews against him, saying the president lacks stamina or mental energy to fulfil the duties of the office. Some have dubbed him ‘Sleepy Joe.’
Biden says he will consider ‘doing away’ with the filibuster after the Republicans blocked the Freedom to Vote Act in the Senate
President Biden said he would consider ‘doing away’ with the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation, but cannot push to get rid of the 60-vote threshold entirely right now as he would lose three votes on his economic agenda.
‘I also think we’re going to have to move to the point where we fundamentally alter the filibuster,’ Biden said.
He said that he would ‘lose at least 3 votes’ if he brought up right now the larger conversation of eliminating the 60-vote threshold needed for most legislation in the Senate in favor of a simple majority.
Moderate Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have both vocally opposed getting rid of the filibuster. It’s not clear who Biden was referring to as the third vote.
‘If in fact I get myself into, at this moment, the debate on the filibuster, I lose at least three votes right now to get what I have to get done on the economic side of the equation, the foreign policy side.’
Biden confirmed he might move to nuke the filibuster on the Freedom to Vote Act, which failed without a single GOP vote this week, ‘and maybe more’
Republican senators, led by Mitch McConnell, filibustered a major voting bill on Wednesday, blocking Democrats’ plans to allow same-day voter registration and to make Election Day a holiday.
Biden confirmed he might move to nuke the filibuster on the Freedom to Vote Act, which failed without a single GOP vote this week, ‘and maybe more.’
‘That remains to be seen exactly what that means in terms of fundamentally altering it, whether or not we just end the filibuster straight up,’ said Biden. He added that Democrats might have to reform the filibuster on voting rights.
‘There are certain things that are just sacred rights. One is the sacred obligation that we never are going to renege on a debt. Only nation in the world we have never, ever, reneged on a single debt.’
As he called for reform, Biden approvingly recalled the way the filibuster used to be implemented, where a lawmaker would have to stand on the floor and speak for hours on end. Now that no floor speech is required, the filibuster is used far more frequently.
‘You had to stand on the floor and exhaust everything you had and when you gave up the floor and someone else sought the floor, they had to talk until they finished. You’re only allowed to do it a second time. After that, it’s over. You vote.’
Republican senators filibustered a major voting bill on Wednesday, blocking Democrats’ plans to allow same-day voter registration and to make Election Day a holiday.
‘She’s as smart as the devil’: Joe Biden finally reveals Kyrsten Sinema is ‘very supportive’ of his environmental agenda but refuses to raise a ‘single penny’ of taxes on the wealthy
By Geoff Earle, Deputy U.S. Political Editor for DailyMail.com
President Joe Biden took steps during a prime time town hall Thursday to reveal several of Kyrsten Sinema’s policy positions – after the Arizona Senator infuriated liberals by holding back her criticisms of his $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan.
‘First of all she’s smart as the devil,’ Biden responded when host Anderson Cooper asked her about Sinema, who has been in the spotlight with Biden’s plans hanging in the balance.
Biden described the enigmatic lawmaker as backing environmental and ‘family’ provisions in the package – but confirmed press reports that she is ruling out tax hikes on the wealthy.
‘She’s very supportive of the environmental agenda in my legislation. Very supportive,’ Biden claimed.
Biden confirmed that Sinema is against the tax hikes on the wealthy
That is in keeping with a few cryptic tweets Sinema has posted amid negotiations expressing general environmentalist views. That came despite fellow centrist Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia weighing in against a new proposal dealing with power plants.
‘She’s supportive of almost all the things I’ve mentioned relating to everything from family care to all those issues,’ Biden said, after talking up provisions on universal pre-K, family leave, and extending an expanded child tax credit.
‘Where she’s not supportive is she says she will not raise a single penny in taxes on the corporate side and/or on wealthy people, period,’ Biden said. ‘And so that’s where it sort of breaks down. And there are a few other issues it breaks down on.’
Biden made the comments – the most revealing about her posture despite being general in nature – after deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre refused to confirm press reports that Sinema said she won’t go along with the tax hikes.
President Joe Biden made several comments that may flush out positions from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)
Jean-Pierre also said Sinema was negotiating in ‘good faith’ and gushed about her as a negotiating partner – even as she and Manchin have the president’s economic and social agenda teetering.
‘Yes, we believe that Senator Sinema is negotiating in good faith,’ she said. ‘Let me just say that the president considers Senator Sinema an important partner in getting his economic agenda passed, and he values her work, her engagement, and her commitment to working with him to deliver for the American people.’
Biden’s plan hikes the top corporate rate, the top individual rate, and taxes on capital gains. All are major revenue-raisers that can offset major social investments.
Biden insists his plan will not raise taxes on anyone earning less than $400,000.
Sinema has been the subject of protests and angry attacks from progressives, and a few activists even followed her into a bathroom. Senior democrats have been more gentle with Joe Manchin, who entertains lawmakers on his houseboat, and has made public statements about provisions he likes and doesn’t like.