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Politics Biden mocks people who use 'freedom' as a cover for refusing a shot

06:00  22 october  2021
06:00  22 october  2021 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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President Joe Biden said police officers and emergency workers who refuse COVID-19 vaccination should stay home or be fired, as he answered questions during a CNN town hall on Thursday evening.

'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.'

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.

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Hours before the town hall, Republican senators wrote to the White House demanding that Biden back down.

But Biden delivered a furious riposte, ridiculing those who argued the mandates were an infringement of their freedom and condemning misinformation.

'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."

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'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 in Baltimore, was a chance to deliver his message directly to the public while his own party remains split.

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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.'

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 © Provided by Daily Mail 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 © Provided by Daily Mail It marked the third time Biden has appeared on a CNN town hall since becoming president

The president has conducted only 10 interviews during his time in office, far fewer than his immediate predecessors.

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Video: White House pressed on Biden’s recent mixed messaging (FOX News)

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.

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'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.

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.

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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 © Provided by Daily Mail 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.'

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