- Business Roundtable’s CEO told Bloomberg that Biden’s infrastructure plan should stick to roads and bridges.
- The lobbying group also opposes raising the corporate tax to 28% as a way to fund the plan.
- Biden expressed willingness to work with Republicans on negotiating the size of the tax hike.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan is ambitious. It includes funding for things like climate change and research initiatives, and an influential business lobbying group wants Biden to scale things way back.
Josh Bolten, chief executive officer of Business Roundtable, which represents CEOs of the largest US companies, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Thursday that the organization wants Biden to limit the scope of the package to mainly address roads and bridges and “leave the rest of the stuff for something else.”
Bolten, who was former President George W. Bush’s chief of staff for almost three years, did not clarify what he was referring to as “something else.”
“It’s the real infrastructure that can attract bipartisan support,” Bolten said, adding that “more modern infrastructure” also needs investment, citing broadband as an example. In this regard, Bolten is slightly more positive on Biden’s plan than Republican leadership, which has argued that very little of Biden’s plan fits the definition of infrastructure. In fact, Bolten said the Business Roundtable favors a “substantial amount” of what Biden has proposed. For his part, Biden has argued that infrastructure has always periodically undergone reinventions, in step with technology.
Biden’s plan also includes a proposed corporate tax rate increase to 28%, and Bolten said the group, which includes the CEOS of Apple and Amazon, is “strongly against” that proposal. Former President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cut slashed the rate from 35% to 21%.
“It’s a massive tax increase on US business, which is really damaging, not just to the shareholders of all those businesses but to the employees and customers as well,” he said. The hike, he added, “would make us once again the least competitive in the developed world.”
Earlier this week, Bolten issued a statement criticizing Treasury Secretary’s related efforts to establish a global corporate minimum tax rate, saying it “threatens to subject the U.S. to a major competitive disadvantage.”
Insider reported on Thursday that while 65% of voters support corporate tax hikes to pay for infrastructure, Republican lawmakers, and even some Democrats, are opposed to doing so.
For example, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Biden’s plan will get no Republican support in the Senate because “the last thing the economy needs right now is a big, whopping tax increase,” and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said on a West Virginia radio show that he would not support a corporate tax increase to 28%. Manchin does want an increase, though, and seems more comfortable with 25%.
The 28% rate seemed reasonable last year to Gary Cohn, the former head of Trump’s National Economic Council. He said at the time he was “actually OK at 28%.”
In a speech on Wednesday, Biden said he would be willing to negotiate with Republicans on the size of the corporate tax increase.
“I’m wide open, but we got to pay for this,” Biden said. “I am willing to negotiate that.”