The Republicans "for eight years ran the economy and the middle class literally into the ground," Biden said in a speech this morning that's part of an orchestrated push back from the Obama White House. Biden said when President George W. Bush took office in 2001 the GOP took a $237 billion operating surplus, "and left us with a $1.3 trillion deficit and in the process quadrupled the national debt all before ... we did one single solitary thing" in the Obama administration.
Now, he said, the GOP wants to promote the "exact same agenda."
The vice president is filling in as responder-in-chief while President Obama is vacationing in Martha's Vineyard. Biden worked the remarks into an already planned speech to the nation on economic stimulus spending in the scientific field.
In his speech Boehner said the GOP will offer "a clear and positive governing agenda focused on getting people working again" next month, a promise which also earned ribbing from the vice president.
Biden took particular aim at Boehner's call for renewing the Bush tax cuts, written to expire at the end of this year unless Congress takes action. (More on that here.)
The vice president called for "truth in advertising," saying Boehner is wrongly equating a tax cut for the top bracket with helping small business owners, and pointing out that a small business tax cut bill is being blocked by Senate Republicans.
"After all this build up and hype, all we know is what John Boehner and his Republican colleagues are against," Biden said. "I don't know, other than a tax cut for [the top 2 percent], I don't know what they are for."
Boehner, who wants to be speaker of the House next year, has been stepping up his direct attacks on the White House. His aides viewed the speech today as the start of a fall campaign outlining differences between the Republicans and Democratic leadership. As we reported, GOP operative are pleased that even though Boehner is often clumsy in his attacks, the White House has felt the need to respond to him.
Case in point: earlier today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs took to his Twitter feed for the first time in weeks to bash Boehner. "Boehner today embraces the return of policies that helped create the worst econ downturn since the Great Depression," Gibbs tweeted, adding a link to a White House blog post on the economy.
During the rest of his speech, Biden said the economy might still be struggling, but "there's not any doubt we're moving in the right direction."