In the face of harsh criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron, President Joe Biden collapsed when it came to defending his $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act, seen by the European leader as potentially devastating to his country's manufacturing sector, as the Washington Times reports.
Biden's comments came during a highly publicized visit to Washington by Macron, a stay that also included a state dinner on Thursday night.
According to Fox News, Macron on Thursday issued stern words of caution about the legislation designed to afford preferential treatment to American-made technology in a speech given at the French Embassy.
Despite praising Biden's work in attempting to halt the pace of climate change, Macron suggested that the Inflation Reduction Act's provisions would wreak havoc on countless European firms.
"The choices that have been made...are choices that will fragment the West," opined Macron, adding that the law "creates such differences between the United States and Europe that all those who work in many [American] companies, they will just thing, 'We don't make investments any more on the other side of the Atlantic.'"
The French head of state also echoed those sentiments during a closed-door session with congressional leaders on Wednesday, in which he reportedly described the measures as "super aggressive."
In the face of those withering criticisms, Biden on Thursday declined to apologize for the legislation, but did express some degree of contrition regarding Macron's complaints when speaking to reporters, as the Times noted.
"The United States makes no apology, and I make no apologies, since I wrote it, for the legislation," Biden explained. 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."
Disclaiming any purposeful ill will toward America's friends in Europe, Biden added, "It was never intended, when I wrote the legislation, to exclude folks who were cooperating with us. That was not the intention."
The Times further reported that Bruno Le Maire, France's finance minister, was rather more cutting in his assessment of the situation than the slightly more diplomatically toned Macron, declaring earlier in the week that his country would be seeking "exemptions on some duties and limits imposed" by the Act.
"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."
The uncomfortable nature of discussions between the two nations on this issue follows on the heels of another controversy last year surrounding a Biden administration decision to sell nuclear submarines to Australia, which upended an existing French deal with the country and blindsided Macron – to his publicly expressed consternation.
In the wake of that rift, Biden expressed regret over how things unfolded, saying at the time, "I think what happened was – to use an English phrase – what we did was clumsy," and that the deal "was not done with a lot of grace."
Given that history and the fact that Macron's stay in Washington this week was marked by a series of extremely awkward moments that called into question Biden's cognitive acuity – including an uncomfortably long handshake and the president's seemingly vacant gaze during a White House welcome ceremony – he may be taking the president's stated willingness to rectify problems with his legislation with a huge grain of salt.