Monday, 28 November, 2022

Biden in Florida for final push before the midterms

US President Joe Biden scolded Republicans on social spending issues on Tuesday in popular retirement spot Florida as the US president makes his closing pitch ahead of next week's midterm elections.

Facing signs of a growing "red wave" that could sweep the opposition Republicans to power in the House and Senate, Biden portrayed himself as "middle-class" Joe as he attempts -- with mixed success -- to court the blue-collar vote.

"You've been paying for Social Security your whole life," the Democratic leader said, speaking in the coastal city of Hallandale Beach, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) north of Miami.

"You earned it," he said, referring to the benefits program for retirees. "Now these guys want to take it away. Who in the hell do they think they are?"

He warned against a proposal from Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott, who suggested putting Social Security -- which began in the 1930s -- and Medicare -- the state-funded health insurance for people over 65, which has been in place since the 1960s -- to a congressional vote every five years.

Biden, 79, had been promising since a trip was canceled by a hurricane to go to Florida, a traditional "swing state" that has leaned more solidly into the conservative column in recent cycles, and where 21 percent of residents are older than 65.

Later during an address at Florida Memorial University in Miami, he laid out his administration's reforms on drug and hearing aid prices, airline hidden fees and student debt forgiveness, while hammering Republicans as being in the pockets of "Big Pharma" and the rest of corporate America.

The White House hopes the visit will nevertheless help in portraying the Republican Party as a threat to middle-class households and seniors.

Biden has been relatively quiet during the campaign for the midterms, which are expected to hand the House of Representatives back to the Republicans, who would also take the evenly divided Senate with just one pick-up.