Responding to pointed criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron about the Inflation Reduction Act, President Joe Biden admitted that the $740 billion tax-and-climate law contains “glitches” but defended the legislation after the two leaders met in the Oval Office on Dec. 1.
“The United States makes no apology, and I make no apologies, since I wrote it, for the legislation,” Biden said in a joint press conference after the summit with Macron. “But there are occasions when you write a massive piece of legislation, there’s obviously going to be glitches in it, and the need to reconcile changes.”
The White House promoted the meeting as an opportunity for the United States and France to showcase their close ties and reinforce their alignment on the war in Ukraine, competition with China, and climate change among other global issues.
Macron has voiced his grievances about the portion of the Inflation Reduction Act that includes hefty tax credits for electric vehicles that are produced by U.S. manufacturers.
In closed-door discussions at the White House, the French envoy outlined their objections to the Inflation Reduction Act, Agence France-Presse reported.
“The real question we must ask ourselves is what sort of globalization is ahead of us?” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told France 3 television before the meeting. “It is time Europe favors European production. All European states must understand that today in the face of these American decisions, we must learn to better protect and defend our economic interests.”
At the French Embassy in Washington on Dec. 1, Macron referenced the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS Act. The Inflation Reduction Act, which includes a grab bag of policies, provides some $400 billion of support to the green energy industry in the United States, while the CHIPS Act bolsters U.S. semiconductor manufacturing.
“The choices made, whose goals I share—especially the [Inflation Reduction Act] or the CHIPS Act—are choices that will fragment the West because they create such differences between the U.S. and Europe,” Macron said.
“These choices can only work if there is coordination between us.”
After the summit with Biden, Macron told reporters, “We want to succeed together, not one against the other. This is the outcome of our discussions this morning, and this is exactly the philosophy that I share and it is the one that we need.”
Biden said he will keep working with France and other European nations to smooth issues resulting from the Inflation Reduction Act.
“There is no fundamental—it was never intended, when I wrote the legislation—I never intended to exclude folks who were cooperating with us. That was not the intention,” Biden said. “The intention was to make sure we are no longer in a position when there was a pandemic in Asia and trying to decide if they’re going to no longer sell us computer chips. We invented the damn things, you know. So anyway, but my point is, we’re back in business. Europe is back in business, and we’re going to continue to create manufacturing jobs in America, but not at the expense of Europe.”
“There’s a lot we can work out, but the essence of it is we’re going to make sure that the United States continues, and just as I hope Europe will be able to continue, not to have to rely on anybody else’s supply chain,” Biden added. “We are our own supply chain. And we share that with Europe and all of our allies. And they will, in fact, have the opportunity to do the same thing.”
It was Macron’s first state visit to the White House during Biden’s first term. Macron was accompanied by his wife, Brigitte. The couple made their first appearance at the White House in 2018 when Donald Trump was president.
On Thursday morning, the Macrons stepped onto the White House South Lawn for an official arrival ceremony.
They were greeted by thousands of people, including French and U.S. officials. The program featured the playing of both nations’ national anthems, military honors, a 21-gun salute, a review of troops, and comments by both leaders.
The Biden-Macron relationship saw a tense start in September 2021, when Macon briefly recalled France’s ambassador to the United States after the Biden administration announced a deal to sell nuclear submarines to Australia. That thwarted a multi-billion dollar defense contract for France to sell diesel-powered submarines.
At the joint press conference, Biden and Macron showed a united front about the ongoing war in Ukraine but provided different answers about their willingness to communicate with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Biden “has no immediate plans” to contact Putin, but he will talk to the Russian leader if he is seeking an end to the fighting.
“He’s just miscalculated across the board,” Biden said of Putin. “And so the question is, how does he get himself out of the circumstances [he’s] in?
“I’m prepared, if he’s willing to talk, to find out what he’s willing to do, but I’ll only do it in consultation with my NATO allies,” Biden added. “I’m not going to do it on my own.”
Macron told reporters that when Ukraine establishes conditions for a peace agreement, he is willing to talk to Putin.
In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the French president said he plans to speak with Putin in the upcoming days.
U.S. support, Macron said, “is very important, not just for the Ukrainians, but for the stability of our world today. Because if we consider that we can abandon the country and abandon the full respect of these principles, it means that there is no possible stability in this world.”
Macron pledged increased military, economic, and humanitarian support for Ukraine from France.
Biden opened the joint press conference by calling France America’s “oldest ally” and “unwavering partner” and noting that “Emmanuel has also become a friend, as well as President at that great country.”
Macron’s opening remarks praised Biden for honoring campaign commitments regarding international issues.
“We’re being able to re-engage with you,” Macron said.
“I can only tell you once again how pleased we were with your choices that very much matched your history and your campaign commitments,” Macron added. “The fact that you’re back on international challenges such as health and climate—it is really a New Deal.”
Macron urged the allies to “become brothers in arms once more” as the Ukraine war continues.
In a joint statement after the meeting, Biden and Macron outlined “a shared vision to strengthen security and increase prosperity worldwide, combat climate change, build greater resilience to its effects, and advance democratic values.
“This vision is built on a shared conviction that the United States and its European allies and partners can better face our greatest challenges and capitalize on our most promising opportunities together. This includes addressing global issues such as climate change and energy transition, investing in technologies, and building resilient value chains in strategic sectors such as health, semiconductors, and critical minerals, as well as strengthening our security and defense cooperation.”
The leaders wrote that they “strongly condemn Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine and stress that intentionally targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure constitutes war crimes whose perpetrators must be held accountable.”
As Republicans are set to regain control of the House in January 2023 and GOP leader and potential Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has said that Republican legislators will not “write a blank check” for Ukraine, Biden and Macron acknowledged that challenges await regarding continued support of Ukraine.
“What is at stake in Ukraine is not just very far from here, in a small country somewhere in Europe,” Macron said. “But it’s about our values. And about our principles. Our two nations are sisters in the fight for freedom.”
Biden and Macron also pledged to “continue to coordinate on our concerns regarding China’s challenge to the rules-based international order, including respect for human rights, and to work together with China on important global issues like climate change.”
Macron drew concern in November during a speech at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok when he described the U.S. and China as “two big elephants” that are close to creating “a big problem for the rest of jungle” and called for a single world order.
France is a counterbalancing force in the struggle between China and the United States, Macron explained.
“We are in the jungle, and we have two big elephants, trying to become more and more nervous,” Macron said in the speech. “If they become very nervous and start war, it will be a big problem for the rest of the jungle. You need the cooperation of a lot of other animals: tigers, monkeys, and so on.”