In Chicago visit, Biden heaps praise on Pritzker, touts economic recovery ahead of 2024

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President Joe Biden gives remarks at the Old Post Office in Chicago Wednesday. He gave a speech on "Bidenomics" before heading to an evening fundraiser organized by Gov. JB Pritzker. Biden said Pritzker helped him "more than anybody in America" to successfully win the White House in 2020. | Credit: Whitehouse.gov

CHICAGO – In a whirlwind visit to Chicago on Wednesday, President Joe Biden trotted out a re-election campaign message built on economic recovery – and effusively praised Gov. JB Pritzker for helping him win the White House in 2020.

“There’s a guy that helped me more than – I can say this without equivocation – helped me more than anybody in America get elected last time. A single person: your governor,” Biden said during a speech in Chicago’s Old Post Office, the first stop before a pair of private fundraisers, including one hosted by Pritzker and his wife MK, where the minimum donation was $3,300.

“He stepped up. He raised money, he raised support,” the president continued. “Governor, you’re the best. Thank you for being such a good friend. I really mean it.”

In April, Biden officially announced his re-election campaign for 2024, finally putting an end to more than a year of speculation that Pritzker would throw his hat into the ring. The billionaire governor had repeatedly said he would support Biden for a second term.

Pritzker won a second term as governor in November, promising to spend the next four years working to deliver many of the same progressive policies in Illinois that Biden listed as goals during his speech Wednesday.

In Chicago’s Old Post Office, the president was flanked by nearly a dozen blue signs bearing the term “Bidenomics” – a term coined by critics in the conservative-leaning financial press. He redefined it as an opposing framework to the supply-side economic theory dubbed “Reaganomics” under former President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

Supply-side defenders believe tax cuts, particularly for the wealthiest Americans and businesses, will spur job creation and economic growth. It’s a framework sometimes derided as “trickle-down economics.”

Biden said the economic theory has “failed America’s middle class for decades.”

“I’m tired of waiting for the trickle-down,” the president said. “It doesn’t come very quickly. Not much trickle-down at my dad’s kitchen table growing up.”

Biden’s record on economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic rests on a foundation of four packages he signed into law: the American Rescue Plan Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. All were passed during Biden’s first two years in office, when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress.

Pritzker seized on the opportunity to tout Illinois’ complementary laws, which take advantage of the availability of federal funds to invest in infrastructure and renewable energy projects.

“President Biden made us the envy of the world when he led the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which has brought clean energy and climate action to the forefront and once again created millions of jobs across the nation,” Pritzker said before the president took the stage Wednesday. “And together with Illinois’ Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, we will reach 100 percent clean energy production by 2045.”

Biden got big applause from the friendly audience when he hit on themes Pritzker included in Illinois’ budget for the new fiscal year that begins Saturday: reduced costs and greater availability of child care, preschool and community college education.

“I’m determined to keep fighting for universal pre-K and free community college,” Biden said. “We’re also fighting to make child care more affordable because we know one benefit is that it opens up significant opportunities for parents to be able to go back and join the workforce.”

Addressing the crowd at the private fundraiser hosted by the Pritzkers afterward, Biden hit on many of the same themes, though he displayed more fiery rhetoric at the campaign event.

Per a pool report, the president got a standing ovation when he said Roe v. Wade – the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion that was struck down by a conservative-majority court last year – should be codified into federal law.

Illinois Democrats are eyeing putting a referendum question to voters on the November 2024 ballot, which, if approved, would enshrine the right to abortion access in the Illinois Constitution.

Biden received another standing ovation when he threw his support to Illinois’ ban on firearms classified as “assault weapons,” which Democrats pushed through the General Assembly in January, though its future is in the hands of federal appellate judges set to hear the case on Thursday.

“Who the hell needs a magazine that holds a hundred rounds?” Biden asked the crowd of loyal Democrats.

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