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President Joe Biden speaks at the Steamfitters Local 602 in Springfield, Va., on Jan. 26.Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press

President Joe Biden used a speech at a steamfitters union hall in Virginia on Thursday to launch an attack against Republicans who control the U.S. House of Representatives, saying some of their proposals are dangerous for the American economy.

In his first major economic speech of the year, Biden promoted his record on the U.S. economy, including the creation of more manufacturing jobs, a low unemployment rate and better-than-expected economic growth figures, and lay into the new policies proposed by some Republicans.

“They want to raise your gas prices. They want to cut taxes for billionaires,” Biden said. “They want to impose a 30 per cent national sales tax,” he added.

Biden, who is laying the groundwork for a bid for re-election in 2024, told union members in Springfield, Virginia, that he would veto any such bills. “Not on my watch, I will veto everything they send us,” he said.

Republicans seized control of the House by a narrow margin in last November’s midterm elections and in the weeks since have threatened to refuse to raise the U.S. debt ceiling limit and planned investigations of the Democratic president’s Cabinet and family.

“We’ve got to protect those gains that our policies have generated, protect them from the MAGA Republicans in the House of Representatives who are threatening to destroy this progress,” Biden said, using the acronym for former President Donald Trump’s “Make American Great Again” slogan.

The House passed a bill to slash the Internal Revenue Service’s budget, and some Republicans propose cutting Social Security and Medicare, retirement and health care spending programs for senior citizens.

“Do they think this is going to help with inflation,” the president said of the tax-cutting proposal. “What in God’s name is this all about?”

Biden also went after pharmaceutical companies for making huge profits using federal incentives for research and investment and promised to pass legislation extending a $35 cap on insulin for Medicare users to everyone.

The economy under Biden has been gripped by inflation that is now ebbing, as are fears that a recession is imminent. U.S. gross domestic product grew at a 2.9% annualized rate in last year’s fourth quarter, exceeding expectations, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

As Biden started his speech, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted, “If President Biden is so eager to speak on the economy, then he should set a date to discuss a responsible debt ceiling increase.

“We must finally address Washington’s irresponsible government spending if we want to put America on a better fiscal path,” McCarthy wrote.

Biden has previously warned he would veto Republican proposals that would limit his authority to tap the strategic petroleum reserve, cut taxes on corporations and levy a national sales tax should they reach his desk.

Biden’s Democrats control the Senate, and many of the proposals he talked about Thursday are unlikely to make it to his desk.

The bill on the strategic petroleum reserve was one a series of political messaging measures that the House passed in its first week of business, and it is seen as having little to no chance of being taken up by the Senate.

The national sales tax proposal is included in the Fair Tax Act of 2023, introduced on Jan. 9 by Republican Representative Earl “Buddy” Carter of Georgia. It would replace the U.S. income, payroll, estate and gift taxes with a 23% sales tax and stop funding the Internal Revenue Service after 2027. McCarthy responded “no” this week when asked by reporters if he supported the bill, which Georgia Republicans have been introducing without success since 1999.

Biden also said he would form a new council that includes the secretaries of Commerce, Labor, Transportation, Treasury, Energy, and Health and Human Services to oversee hundreds of billions of dollars in new infrastructure and manufacturing spending approved by Congress over the past two years.

“It’s going to attract billions of dollars more in private investment,” Biden predicted.