Porkapalooza II: Biden Rolls Out $2.25T Spending Spree For Infrastructure

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President Biden is rolling out a $2.25 trillion plan on Wednesday that would overhaul U.S. infrastructure such as roads and bridges, pour billions of dollars into retrofitting housing and transit with an eye toward climate change, and create new jobs for caregivers of the elderly and disabled, among other priorities.

The proposal, dubbed the “American Jobs Plan,” is supposed to be funded in part by hiking the U.S. corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%. The administration estimated that the overall package will generate millions of jobs.

The White House estimated that the spending, most of which is doled out over an eight-year period, would be paid for over a 15-year period if Congress passes the package alongside the president’s desired tax increases.

“We think that these are investments that, as a country, we cannot afford not to make,” an administration official told reporters on a call previewing the plan. “At the same time, the president feels that the right, responsible thing is to identify how we could pay for these investments across time.”

The proposal released Wednesday is the first part of Mr. Biden’s next major domestic legislative priority after Congress approved his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package earlier this month.

A second package that includes additional spending on health care, child care, and what some advocates call “human infrastructure” is supposed to be released in the coming weeks.

Mr. Biden is set to travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday afternoon to talk in more detail about the first part of the plan, which includes:

• $620 billion for transportation infrastructure.
• $650 billion for broadband, clean water, the electric grid, and affordable housing.
• $400 billion for caregiving initiatives for seniors and the disabled.
• $580 billion for research and development, manufacturing, and training.

In addition to the corporate tax rate hike, the president wants to finance the new spending plans by increasing the global minimum tax rate applied to U.S. corporations from about 10.5% to 21%, imposing a minimum 15% tax on income companies use to report profits, or “book income,” and eliminating tax breaks for fossil fuel companies, among other changes to the tax code.

The White House estimated that the tax increases would generate more than $2 trillion over the next 15 years and reduce the debt in the long run.

The package released Wednesday is not paired with other tax hikes on individuals that Mr. Biden has floated like increasing the top individual income tax rate from 37% to 39.6% and increasing capital gains taxes on earnings of more than $1 million.

The White House has said that individuals and families earning less than $400,000 per year will not see their taxes increase under the president’s plans, though analysts project that hiking the corporate rate would indirectly hit people under that threshold through higher utility bills and hits to retirement savings accounts.

The infrastructure portion of the plan includes $115 billion to modernize bridges, highways, and roads and more than $170 billion to boost electric vehicle production.

Mr. Biden also wants Congress to authorize $45 billion for eliminating all lead pipes and service lines, $100 billion for expanding high-speed broadband to rural and underserved areas, $100 billion for modernizing the U.S. electric grid, and more than $200 billion to “produce, preserve, and retrofit” affordable housing with an eye toward energy efficiency and climate change.

The plan calls for expanded access to long-term care services under Medicaid, which the White House expects to open up additional job opportunities.

Mr. Biden called on Congress to put $35 billion toward climate-related research and development, $50 billion into semiconductor manufacturing and research, and more than $50 billion to try to increase access to capital for domestic manufacturing.

The plan includes a call to expand collective bargaining rights for public sector workers and endorses House-passed legislation that would make it easier for workplaces to unionize and would authorize stiffer penalties for companies that violate workers’ rights, among other changes.

Congressional Democrats could try to muscle through parts of the plan without Republican support, as they did for Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package, though the White House has started conducting outreach to both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill on the proposal.

“He’s open to hearing what others think, but what he is uncompromising about is the urgency of the moment and the need to really deliver for the American people,” the administration official said.

Staff members for Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York are exploring whether Democrats can leverage a fast-track budget tool, typically used no more than once a year, as many as three times before the 2022 midterms to get the president’s agenda through.

The tool, known as reconciliation, would allow Democrats to get legislation through the 50-50 split Senate on a simple majority vote, sidestepping the typical 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster. Democrats have effective control thanks to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.

It’s the same process Democrats used to pass Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package without GOP support.

Senate Republicans are essentially unified against any new major tax increases, leaving Democrats with no votes to spare in the Senate and few votes to spare in the House if they can’t win Republican support.

Republicans say they’re not going to be hoodwinked into voting for an infrastructure package that’s financed by tax increases Democrats jam through on their own in a separate bill.

Liberals and moderate Democrats generally swallowed their criticisms of the $1.9 trillion relief package and voted yes, but it could be a different story for the infrastructure and tax proposals.

Several House Democrats have already said they won’t vote for Mr. Biden’s tax plans unless they fully restore a state and local tax deduction prized by their well-off constituents in blue states like New York, New Jersey, and California.

Liberal members are also offering their own climate proposals, some of which are more far-reaching than moderate Senate Democrats such as Joe Manchin III of West Virginia are likely willing to support.

Read rest at Washington Times

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