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Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden's speech in Ohio on Thursday captured his own take on "Make America Great Again" — a populist appeal, minus the racial dog whistle, for the U.S. to reclaim its post-World War II glory.

The big picture: Biden invoked long-ago works projects, as well as China's rise on the world stage, to make the case for tax increases and deficit spending that would, he argued, reset the balance between the wealthy and the working class.

"There's a new bargain," Biden told the audience at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. "Everyone is going to be in on the deal this time."

  • "We're going to take back some of that 1% money and make 'em pay for it," he said — a reference to Trump-era tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.
  • "This time...we have to bring everybody along, regardless of their background, regardless of their religion, regardless of their race."

Why it matters: Rallying more Americans around this argument is Biden's best chance to enact elements of a $6 trillion budget plan he's unveiling today and keep pressure on Republicans to commit to at least $1 trillion in infrastructure spending. "We have to start investing in ourselves again," he said.

  • He recalled the U.S. bringing electricity to the masses in the 1930s and connecting the interstate highway system in the 1950s.
  • He said the pandemic exposed how "we've neglected that kind of public investment for much too long."
  • Over three decades, he said, the U.S. slipped from the top to No. 9 for research and development spending worldwide, while China rose from No. 8 to No. 2. "We're in a race to see who wins the 21st century," he said. "We must be No. 1 in the world to lead the world."

Between the lines: The president is using the early success of his COVID stimulus as evidence that he knows what he's doing, despite critics' serious concerns about inflation and the mounting national debt.

  • Republicans are "bragging about" the American Rescue Plan after voting against it, the president said, displaying a list of offenders for comic effect. "Some people have no shame, but I'm happy. I'm happy they know that it benefitted their constituents."

Go deeper

Biden: "No question" Delta variant is to blame for poor jobs report

President Joe Biden speaking at the White House on Sept. 2. Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

There is "no question" that the Delta variant is to blame for the disappointing August jobs report, President Biden said in remarks on Friday, a fact that he argued underscores the importance of continuing to vaccinate Americans and passing his economic agenda.

Why it matters: The U.S. economy added only 235,000 jobs last month, significantly lower than what economists expected in part because of the surge in new coronavirus cases driven by the Delta variant.

Updated 18 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.