April 11, 2021

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Biden open to negotiating on corporate tax hike, but says U.S. must take bold action on infrastructure – CNBC

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President Joe Biden speaks during an event on the American Jobs Plan in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in Washington.

Evan Vucci | AP

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he is willing to negotiate on the proposed corporate tax rate hike in his $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

“I’m willing to listen to that,” Biden said at the White House when asked if he would consider a lower corporate tax rate than 28%, as his plan currently calls for.

“We’ve got to pay for this,” Biden added, noting that there are “many other ways we can do it.”

“But I’m willing to negotiate that,” he said.

The president’s remark about the corporate tax rate came after he delivered a sweeping defense of the size and scope of his proposed infrastructure overhaul.

Republicans have been quick to criticize the plan for funding too many projects that, in their view, fall outside the definition of infrastructure. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has tried to brand the plan a “Trojan Horse” for liberal policies, and other GOP lawmakers have claimed that only a small fraction of the massive bill goes toward “real infrastructure.”

But Biden argued Wednesday afternoon that “the idea of infrastructure has always evolved to meet the aspirations of the American people and their needs. And it is evolving again today.”

The president said he welcomes debate about the specifics of the bill, and said “any Republican who wants to get this done” is invited to the White House.

But he noted that his own view is that infrastructure reform should be crafted with the future in mind, rather than focused on repairing existing structures.

“We don’t just fix for today. We build for tomorrow,” Biden said.

“It’s not a plan that tinkers around the edges. It’s a once-in-a-generation investment in America, unlike anything we’ve done since we built the interstate highway system and won the Space Race decades ago,” the president said.

“It’s a plan that puts millions of Americans to work to fix what’s broken in our country: Tens of thousands of miles of roads and highways, thousands of bridges in desperate need of repair. It’s also a blueprint of infrastructure needed for tomorrow,” he added.

Biden’s proposal, dubbed the American Jobs Plan, includes roughly $2 trillion in spending over eight years. The White House offered a 15-year path to funding the plan, in part by hiking the corporate tax rate to 28%. Republicans had slashed the levy to 21% from 35% as part of former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law.

The infrastructure plan would also implement other measures, such as boosting the global minimum tax for multinational corporations and closing so-called offshoring loopholes, for funding.

“Building the infrastructure of tomorrow requires major investments today,” Biden said. “The divisions of the moment shouldn’t stop us from doing the right thing for the future.”

The ambitious, expensive push to update U.S. infrastructure kicked off just weeks after Biden signed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill into law. That package passed through Congress without any GOP support, and it’s likely to be even tougher for the White House to convince Republicans to back another huge bill that also includes tax increases.

But Biden also faces pressure from Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has already come out against a 28% corporate rate. In a Senate split 50-50 between the two parties, Manchin’s vote could make all the difference.

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