Ultra-MAGA takes Washington by storm

Ultra-MAGA takes Washington by storm

The Ultra-MAGA label — they’ll take it!

Those who President Biden branded derisively “Ultra-MAGA” on Tuesday were quick to embrace it and warn Democrats that waging war on the Trump agenda was tantamount to waging war on the American dream.

“I’m proud to be an Ultra-MAGA,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican. ”The president’s remarks signify a true shift. He’s moving away from an indictment of President Trump specifically to now trying to indict an entire political movement that they fear.”

Fans of former President Donald Trump have long rallied under the banner of MAGA, an acronym for the Trump campaign slogan Make America Great Again.

But Ultra-MAGA is something new in America’s political lexicon. It sprung not from Mr. Trump or his followers, but from the Biden White House to characterize a threat that Democrats perceive as more dangerous than the original MAGA movement.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki insisted that Mr. Biden came up with it himself.

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“It’s the president’s phrase,” she told reporters Tuesday. “I think what has struck him is how extreme some of the policies and proposals are, that a certain wing of the Republican Party, that is taking up too much of the Republican Party, are for.”

The phrase exploded onto the political scene Tuesday when Mr. Biden delivered a big speech about his battle against inflation. He peppered his remarks with stark warnings about how much worse things would be if Ultra-MAGA Republicans take over.

Mr. Biden began using the expression within the past week, though he stumbled over it the first time by saying “Ultra-Mega,” rather than MAGA.

Stephen Miller, a former senior adviser in the Trump White House, has been identified as an Ultra-MAGA leader by Senate Democratic Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois.

Mr. Miller’s response: Ultra-MAGA is as American as apple pie.

“Ultra-MAGA means always putting America First,” Mr. Miller told The Washington Times. “It is the heart of the mainstream of public opinion across all groups. It means voters over special interests. Strong borders over bloodthirsty cartels. American workers over guest workers. Domestic production over foreign production. National security over needless war.”

He didn’t stop there. Ultra-MAGA, he said, means, “Cops over criminals. Education over indoctrination. American values over woke ideology. Adoption over abortion. Family over government. Equality over equity. Free speech over censorship. Individuals over corporations. Patriotism over globalism. The United States over the United Nations.”

“This is the Trump Agenda. And if Durbin and the Democrats want to run against these overwhelmingly popular principles and policies in the midterms, they will alienate voters by the tens of millions and lose by record margins,” said Mr. Miller, who is president of America First Legal, which backs court challenges to what the group describes as the “radical left” agenda.

Mr. Durbin also named former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as an Ultra-MAGA leader. Mr. Meadows co-founded America First Legal with Mr. Miller and serves on its board of directors.

Democrats also loved the president’s use of the phrase.

Sen. Brian Schatz, Hawaii Democrat, said he identified an ultra-MAGA Republican as an “extremist” who bans all abortion rights.

“The Republican Party has embraced extremism in a way that is backfiring, spectacularly across the country. And for some of us who like to work on a bipartisan basis, it’s difficult to say those words,” he said.  “But to ban abortion with zero exceptions for rape or incest is it’s no longer a sort of reasonable conversation between people who see an issue differently. This is pure cruelty and medieval lawmaking.”

Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, said Ultra-MAGA encapsulated Mr. Trump’s “anti-democratic movement.”

“His followers believe that he should be president even though he didn’t win the election. So when I think about Donald Trump’s movement, I think first and foremost about a movement that’s trying to overturn democracy, the stakes of that would be cataclysmic for this country,” he said.

In his speech, Mr. Biden singled out Sen. Rick Scott as a central figure in the Ultra-MAGA movement. The president never said the Florida Republican was Ultra-MAGA, but he said Mr. Scott’s legislative agenda was the Ultra-MAGA agenda.

“They’ve made their intentions perfectly clear. Senator Rick Scott of [Florida], a member of the Senate Republican leadership, laid it all out in a plan. It’s the Ultra-MAGA agenda,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Scott’s plan, which has not been adopted by Senate Republicans, would expand the tax base to include more workers who currently pay no federal income taxes. It also would sunset all laws after five years, requiring Congress to reauthorize major programs such as Social Security.

Mr. Scott shot back that his plan — whether Ultra-MAGA or not — was at least a plan.

“Here’s a guy that has no plan to fix anything and blames everybody else,” Mr. Scott told The Times.

Love it or hate it, the new Ultra-MAGA title made a splash in Washington. The big question is who else will start using it.

Rep. Deborah Ross, North Carolina Democrat, put it this way: “People call people a lot of things around here. We’ll see if it sticks.”

• Mica Soellner, Stephen Dinan and Susan Ferrechio contributed to this story.

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