Aug 1, 2023, 7:15am EDT

DeSantis criticizes Trump’s COVID spending as he unveils economic plan

REUTERS/Reba Saldanha

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis looked to give his White House campaign’s reboot a little momentum Monday by unveiling a 10-point economic plan during a speech in New Hampshire.

Offering promises to cut taxes, challenge China’s rising influence, and loosen regulations on fossil fuel production, DeSantis’ pitch varied little from Donald Trump’s policy wish list (a point the Trump campaign was eager to make). But he also took some notable — if slightly indirect — shots at the former president’s economic record.

Here are four pieces that stood out to us.

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  • He viciously subtweeted Trump’s pandemic-era economic record: DeSantis took aim at emergency COVID spending during his speech, blaming Congress and the Federal Reserve for imposing “a massive tax increase on Americans” through inflation during the speech.Virtually every Republican attacks Biden’s share of COVID spending, but DeSantis alsoassailed the 2020 CARES Act in a Q&A, arguing it “underwrote lengthy lockdowns” and kept people out of the labor force in Democratic states by providing generous federal benefits during the pandemic. DeSantis refrained from mentioning Trump’s name as he criticized his record. But his press team, as has often been the case, was a bit more explicit about the attack: Rapid response director Christina Pushaw tweeted that, unlike Trump, DeSantis “isn’t going to lock down the country and add $8 trillion to our debt.”
  • DeSantis is all in on cryptocurrencies: The crypto-friendly Florida governor vowed to block the Federal Reserve from issuing a central bank digital currency, or a digital dollar, arguing it threatens individual liberty. “Biden’s war on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency will come to an end when I become president,” DeSantis said.
  • Borrowing from the left on student debt: DeSantis said he favors allowing students to discharge their debt if they declare bankruptcy, a policy proposal with support in liberal policy circles. He also reiterated that he believes universities should be penalized if their students eventually default on their loans. “I think the university should be responsible for the student debt. You produce somebody that can be successful, they pay off the loans, great. If you don’t, then you’re going to be on the hook,” he said.
  • YIMBY DeSantis?: DeSantis plugged measures he signed into law earlier this year meant to expand affordable housing and limit some restrictive zoning codes in Florida, which is still enjoying a population boom. “The reality is our demand far outstrips anywhere else and so we’re working hard to keep up with it,” he said. Unmentioned: His administration also fought Gainesville’s abandoned effort to eliminate single family zoning.