Biden meets with bipartisan group on $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, saying he’s open to negotiate

Joe Biden Oval Office
President Joe Biden.

  • Biden held his first official meeting with eight bipartisan lawmakers to discuss infrastructure.
  • He told reporters that he is willing to negotiate on both the size and the scope of his plan.
  • Republican lawmakers argue his plan is too focused on things aside from physical infrastructure.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

For the first time since unveiling his $2.3 trillion infrastructure package two weeks ago, President Joe Biden met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Monday to discuss the proposal.

Eight lawmakers, including Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate, Science, and Transportation Maria Cantwell, ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Sam Graves, and Rep. Don Young of Alaska, joined Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in the Oval Office to kick off bipartisan discussions.

“I’m prepared to negotiate as to the extent of my infrastructure package, as well as how we pay for it,” Biden told reporters after the meeting.

He also dismissed the idea that the meeting was just “window dressing,” and said he was “prepared to negotiate as to the extent of the infrastructure project as well as how we pay for it,” citing broadband and clean-water access as important parts of his definition of infrastructure.

This meeting followed a press briefing earlier in the day, when White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden is “absolutely” willing to negotiate on the size and scope of the package.

With regard to scope, Republican lawmakers have argued that it’s too focused on things besides rebuilding physical infrastructure, like roads and bridges. For example, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement two weeks ago that while Biden could have drafted a “serious, targeted infrastructure plan” that would have received bipartisan support, “the latest liberal wish-list the White House has decided to label ‘infrastructure’ is a major missed opportunity by this Administration.”

And with regards to the size of the plan, Republican lawmakers have said the $2.3 trillion price tag, along with Biden’s proposed tax hikes, are too high.

Ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Roger Wicker, who attended the meeting, told ABC News in an interview on Sunday, “We are willing to negotiate with him [Biden] on an infrastructure package, and this trillion-dollar number is way too high for me.”

He added that negotiations on the plan have to look different than the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan that passed in February without any Republican votes.

Some Democrats have said they’d like to see some changes to the package. Moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said on a West Virginia radio talk show last week that he does not support Biden’s proposed corporate tax increase to 28%. “Well, the bill basically is not going to end up that way,” he said.

Psaki emphasized in the Monday press briefing that Biden genuinely wants to work with both parties to create a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“You don’t use the president of the United States’ time, multiple times over … if you did not want to authentically hear from the members attending about their ideas about how to move forward this package,” she said.

Also in the meeting were Democratic Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. of New Jersey, Republican Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of California, and Democratic Rep. David Price of North Carolina, who all sit on committees relevant to rebuilding infrastructure.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Joe Manchin says the Capitol insurrection ‘changed’ him

Joe Manchin
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., before the start of a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 11, 2021

  • Sen. Joe Manchin told CNN the January 6 insurrection “changed” him.
  • “You can’t have this many people split to where they want to go to war with each other,'” he said.
  • Manchin will be key to shepherding Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan through the Senate.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia opened up about the impact of the January 6 insurrection on his approach to politics and shed light on his relationship with the Biden administration in a Thursday interview with CNN.

“January 6 changed me. I never thought in my life, I never read in history books to where our form of government had been attacked, at our seat of government, which is Washington, DC, at our Capitol, by our own people. So, something told me, ‘Wait a minute. Pause. Hit the pause button.’ Something’s wrong. You can’t have this many people split to where they want to go to war with each other,'” Manchin, who has served in the Senate for 10 years, told CNN’s Lauren Fox.

As CNN’s Stephen Collinson noted, the January 6 insurrection itself did not represent two sides being “at war” with each other, but was a one-sided attack waged by Trump supporters on members of Congress.

Read more: Joe Biden has a 2nd chance to take on the NRA with action on background checks for gun sales

Manchin was a critical vote in passing the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. And as a Democrat representing an otherwise red state and the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the Senate, his leadership and vote will now be crucial to shepherd President Joe Biden’s proposed $2.2 trillion infrastructure bill through Congress.

While Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth McDonough cleared a path to the Senate to pass the infrastructure bill through reconciliation, which only requires a simple 51-vote majority instead of the 60 required to get past the filibuster, Manchin has publicly raised concerns with one-party policymaking.

In a recent Washington Post op-ed and again to CNN, Manchin reiterated that he is committed to keeping the filibuster in place and warned of the dangers of legislating primarily through reconciliation, signaling his desire to try to find bipartisan compromise on infrastructure.

Manchin told CNN he has a good relationship with open lines of communication with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

“Whenever he calls me, he calls and then we have a good conversation. We’ve had a good friendship and relationship for a long time. We understand each other,” Manchin said of Biden.

On guns, Manchin told CNN that he is skeptical of the expanded background checks bill passed by the House, but said he supports Biden’s new executive actions on gun control cracking down on so-called ghost guns, and called David Chipman, Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, “well qualified” for the job.

Regarding voting rights, Manchin told CNN that he’d like to meet with some of the leaders on the issue in Congress, like powerful House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (who has publicly pressed Manchin on the issue) and Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia.

Clyburn reacted to Manchin’s interview on CNN on Friday, challenging Manchin’s suggestion that the insurrection should make members more prone to compromise.

“He said…that January 6 changed him. Well, it changed me as well,” Clyburn said. “And I want to remind him of what some of those insurrectionists were saying to those African-American law officers who were out there, one man talking about how many times he was called the n-word. I want to know: how does that man compromise in such a situation? How would he have me compromise in such a situation?”

Read the original article on Business Insider

CEO group says Biden should stick to ‘real infrastructure’ and ‘leave the rest of the stuff for something else’

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • 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.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Joe Manchin signals he could torpedo Democratic attempts to bypass Republicans multiple times in a year

Joe Manchin
In this Feb. 13, 2021, file photo Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., departs on Capitol Hill in Washington

  • Manchin suggested he may thwart Democratic attempts to bypass Republicans in Congress more than once.
  • “I simply do not believe budget reconciliation should replace regular order in the Senate,” Manchin wrote in a Post op-ed.
  • It comes as the White House weighs the path ahead for a massive infrastructure plan.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia suggested he could derail Democratic attempts to circumvent Republicans more than once this year, arguing that embarking on the path would be harmful to the nation’s future.

“We should all be alarmed at how the budget reconciliation process is being used by both parties to stifle debate around the major issues facing our country today,” the influential Democrat said in a Washington Post op-ed published on Wednesday evening.

Manchin said that drafting bills was “never supposed to be easy,” adding it was important to address the needs of both rural areas and urban communities in the months ahead.

“I simply do not believe budget reconciliation should replace regular order in the Senate,” Manchin wrote. “How is that good for the future of this nation?”

Manchin was referring to a tactic Democrats employed earlier this year to approve a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package without securing any Republican votes. It comes as a top Senate official delivered a ruling on Monday that may provide Democrats an opening to bypass the GOP at least twice more this year.

Read more: Here are 9 hurdles Biden’s infrastructure plan would have to overcome in Congress before it can become law

Reconciliation is governed with a strict set of rules aimed at ensuring measures are closely related to the federal budget. Using it allows Democrats to pass bills with a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate and avoid the usual 60-vote threshold.

The White House is starting to sell its $2 trillion infrastructure plan, which includes major funding for roads and bridges, broadband, and in-home elder care among other measures.

The Biden administration outlined a corporate tax plan on Wednesday. It includes a corporate tax increase from 21% to 28%, a step amounting to a partial repeal of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts. Republicans are staunchly opposed to the business tax hikes.

That proposed tax increase recently triggered opposition from Manchin, who said last week he favored a 25% corporate rate instead. The opposition of a single Democratic senator could block the entire passage from clearing the upper chamber.

The dynamic makes Manchin a powerful figure in the Senate. Last month, he forced last-minute changes to unemployment provisions of the stimulus law, delaying votes for almost 11 hours.

Biden said on Wednesday he was open to compromise on a lower rate, though he stressed the need to pay for the plan. “I’m wide open, but we got to pay for this. I am willing to negotiate that,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The White House says it wants to pass Biden’s infrastructure package by the summer, sooner than expected

Jen Psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

  • The White House said it wanted to approve a massive infrastructure package by the summer.
  • “At the end of the day, the president’s red line is inaction,” Psaki said at a news briefing.
  • The timeline underscores the Biden administration’s effort to rapidly approve a massive jobs plan.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The White House said on Tuesday that it is aiming to get President Joe Biden’s multitrillion-dollar infrastructure package approved within months, an ambitious timeline that underscores the administration’s desire to quickly muscle a plan through Congress.

“We’d like to see progress by May and certainly a package through by the summer,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a daily news conference.

“At the end of the day, the president’s red line is inaction,” she said. “He won’t tolerate inaction on rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, something that has long been outdated. He believes we need to invest in that so we can improve the lives of ordinary Americans and make it easier to do business.”

The timeline lines up with what Democrats in Congress recently outlined. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that Democrats aimed to formally assemble the package in early May.

“We look forward to writing a bill, maybe much of it in the first week of May for the infrastructure piece of it. And we’ll see when the Senate then will act upon those proposals,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference on Thursday.

The speaker of the House later added that Democrats would only advance the measure once they have “the best possible bill,” a step that gives them some room to adjust. Pelosi told House Democrats on a caucus call last week she wanted to approve a bill by July 4, though she conceded it could slip to the end of the month, according to a senior Democratic aide.

Some Democrats have eyed September as a possible deadline for action, given the need for Congress to renew a highway funding bill by then.

Biden unveiled a large $2 trillion plan last week, the first of two proposals aimed at modernizing the nation’s infrastructure. The plan contained new funds to repair aging roads and bridges, eliminate lead pipes from water systems, and set up new rural broadband networks.

It also included money to support in-home care of elderly Americans to upgrade the nation’s electric grid and steadily phase out fossil fuels to combat climate change.

The second proposal, with major spending on childcare and education, is set to be released later this month. The pair of plans will form the centerpiece of Biden’s economic agenda.

However, the package has also set off substantial GOP opposition for its large scope and proposed tax increases on multinational corporations. Republicans are also critical of the swift timeline from Democrats in recent weeks.

That opposition, however, isn’t confined to Republicans. At least two Democratic senators, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia, say major elements of Biden’s plan should be adjusted to gain their votes. Manchin said he wanted a smaller corporate tax hike from 21% to 25% instead – not the 28% rate Biden is seeking.

On Monday evening, a top Senate official ruled that Democrats could revisit an earlier budget resolution used for the $1.9 trillion stimulus package to approve another bill without Republican support. That potentially opens the door for them to implement at least two more tax-and-spending measures this year on party-line votes, which could mean they won’t need any Republican votes at all for Biden’s next signature pieces of legislation.

Read the original article on Business Insider

2 Democratic Senators are already saying Biden’s infrastructure plan probably needs to change

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

  • Democrats in the Senate are already voicing their concerns with the infrastructure package.
  • Sen. Joe Manchin says he’s concerned about the increase to the corporate tax rate.
  • And Sen. Mark Warner has “already expressed some concerns” and wants more input.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Two Democratic senators have already voiced concerns about President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

One of them is Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia who has already proven himself to be an outsized presence in the razor-thin Democratic majority. He was also a pivotal voice against the inclusion of a $15 minimum wage in the American Rescue Plan.

Now, he’s expressed his concerns with the infrastructure package. In an interview with Talkline, a West Virginia radio show, Manchin said that, “as the bill exists today, it needs to be changed.”

Regarding Biden’s proposed increase of the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, Manchin indicated that he doesn’t support the 28% figure and stressed that the international average is a few percentage points lower. The rate “should have never been under 25%,” he said. “That’s the worldwide average. And that’s what basically every corporation would have told you was fair.”

When asked if he would not support a bill that raises the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, Manchin said: “Well, the bill basically is not going to end up that way”

Manchin also said the bill wouldn’t be passed by reconciliation “unless we vote to get on it.” When radio host Hoppy Kercheval said “they” could pass the bill by reconciliation.

“No, they can’t. Not unless we vote to get on it,” Manchin said in response. “And if I don’t vote to get on it, it’s not going anywhere.”

Meanwhile, in a briefing on Monday, Biden said he was “not at all” worried that raising that rate would drive corporations to different countries. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also argued in support of a global minimum tax rate today.

As Politico reports, Manchin isn’t alone: Another Democratic senator, Mark Warner of Virginia, has also expressed concerns.

“I’ve had some outreach from the White House, but it was more heads-up than input into the development of the package,” he said, according to Politico. “So I’ve already expressed some concerns.”

Getting Democrats on board with the infrastructure package will be key to its passage, as Senate Minority Mitch McConnell has already said that it won’t get any GOP votes in the Senate. That means Democrats will likely have to compromise internally amongst themselves,

Read the original article on Business Insider

Democrats can learn something from the most powerful Joe in Washington

Joe Manchin 2
Sen. Joe Manchin.

  • Sen. Joe Manchin is the deciding vote in the Senate, making him the most powerful Joe in Washington.
  • While his moderate policies frustrate some Democrats, he also has an important lesson to teach them.
  • He wins in a deep red state and if more Democrats could win elections like him, then his moderate stances wouldn’t be as much of an issue.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden is the first Joe in the White House, ever. But even though he’s Commander-in-Chief, there’s another politician named Joe who may have more power than our president: West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.

The most powerful Joe in Washington

Joe Biden has the big ideas – infrastructure, voting rights, racial healing, jobs, guns, climate, and, of course, nailing COVID- but as we learned with the stimulus bill, Joe Manchin has the final say on what gets passed. Manchin’s opposition ultimately doomed the $15 minimum wage, reduced eligibility for stimulus checks, and forced last-minute tweaks to unemployment insurance expansion.

And when Manchin said he’d vote against Neera Tanden, Biden’s original nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, her fate was all but sealed in a Senate split 50 Democrats to 50 Republicans.

Everyone’s waiting with baited breath every time Manchin speaks – what does he think about the filibuster? When he said he’s open to making the filibuster harder, Democrats were aglow that they could pass more of Biden’s ambitious agenda.

What kind of gun safety does he support? He has publicly come out against the two gun safety bills passed by the House in March that expand background checks for most gun purchases, instead preferring background checks only for commercial gun transactions.

Where does he stand on voting rights? Manchin is the only Democrat who is not co-sponsoring the For the People Act legislation in the Senate and is pushing for bipartisan compromise.

Joe Manchin is at the exact center point of the Senate ideologically and therefore numerically. He represents among the reddest of red states, which gave loser President Donald Trump 68% of the vote, even in 2020. So Manchin stays alive by tacking towards the center, not the left.

The most narrow majority possible

Manchin being the focal point has frustrated those of us who want Biden to make real progress on his agenda. The president needed a Democratic Senate to get anything of note done, and the wise people of Georgia provided that. Now the expectations could not be higher.

Every time Joe Manchin peeks to his right a bit, there’s speculation that he’ll switch parties – which Manchin flatly dismisses – or be challenged in a primary.

But we need every Democrat we can get to maintain a majority. The moderates give the Dems the majority in the House and Senate. And if the party starts to lose purple states and swing districts, it will lose the majority.

The Democrats, of course, should have a bigger majority in the Senate. They lost a bunch of winnable races in 2018 and 2020 – such Cal Cunningham in North Carolina, who lost after a sexting scandal. If more purple or even deep red state Dems were able to get elected like Manchin, his vote and the margin wouldn’t be as much of an issue. So Manchin is invaluable in the sense that he can actually win in a place that no other Dem would really have a chance, and he can win when Dems in other, seemingly more friendly states, cannot.

In the meantime, let’s live with Manchin, because if he switched parties Mitch McConnell would be leader. If he lost in a primary, West Virginians would elect a Republican. We need Joe Manchin right now because if we lost him, we also would lose any chance at progress.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Rep. Jim Clyburn called Joe Manchin’s push for bipartisanship over passage of voting rights legislation ‘insulting’

Jim Clyburn
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill.

  • Rep. Clyburn is highly critical of Sen. Manchin’s position on the For the People Act.
  • Manchin is the only Senate Democrat who has not signed on as a cosponsor of the bill in 2021.
  • Clyburn argues that the Senate filibuster must be put aside to pass the sweeping voting rights bill.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Democratic House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina said in an interview with The Huffington Post that he felt “insulted” by how Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has approached the For the People Act, the sweeping voting rights package also known as H.R. 1 and S. 1.

Manchin is the only Democratic senator who has not signed on as a cosponsor of the legislation this year, arguing that the federal government should not infringe on election law, which has generally been dictated by individual states.

The moderate senator has emphatically stated that a major elections reform bill must be crafted and passed with bipartisan consensus, which would including voting rights.

“Pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits, but will inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the US government,” he said in a statement in late March.

Clyburn alleged that Manchin was elevating bipartisanship with Republicans over the voting rights of minority groups in the US.

“I’m insulted when he tells me that it’s more important to maintain a relationship with the minority in the US Senate than it is for you to maintain a relationship with the minority of voters in America,” Clyburn told The Huffington Post. “That’s insulting to me.”

Clyburn said Manchin was jeopardizing Democratic congressional majorities by not backing legislation that would reverse many of the most stringent voting restrictions being implemented by GOP-controlled states, including Georgia, where Sen. Raphael Warnock is up for reelection in 2022.

“Since when do their rights take precedence over your fellow Democrat Warnock, who saw his state just pass laws to keep him from getting reelected?” he asked. “And you’re going to say it’s more important for you to protect 50 Republicans in the Senate than for you to protect your fellow Democrat’s seat in Georgia. That’s a bunch of crap.”

Read more: Here are 9 hurdles Biden’s infrastructure plan would have to overcome in Congress before it can become law

The House passed H.R. 1 by a 220-210 vote in early March with almost unanimous backing among Democrats and no Republican support.

GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has harshly criticized the bill, calling it a “power grab.” His conservative-dominated Republican caucus is overwhelmingly in agreement, making bipartisan support incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

With the likelihood of a GOP filibuster facing S. 1, Clyburn said that Senate Democrats need to alter filibuster rules to move the bill through the chamber.

“The issue of civil rights and voting rights, these constitutional issues, should never be sacrificed on the altar of the filibuster,” he said. “I’ve been saying that for a long time.”

He added: “I don’t understand why we can’t see that my constitutional rights should not be subjected to anybody’s filibuster.”

Clyburn said that if the party allowed the For the People Act to falter in the Senate, then it would “pay the biggest price it has ever paid at the polls” in 2022.

“That is an actual fact,” he said. “I think I know Black people. I’ve been Black 80 years.”

Clyburn, one of the most prominent Democratic politicians in the Deep South and the figure most credited with reviving President Joe Biden’s campaign in the 2020 Democratic primaries, said that he feels as though the president will push for the bill to get through the Senate.

After Biden won the presidential election last November, he gave a nod to Black voters in his acceptance speech, saying that the highly influential group and pillar of his electoral support “always had my back, and I’ll have yours.”

Recalling Biden’s statement from last year, Clyburn reiterated the president’s commitment to voting rights.

“The best way to have the backs of Black folks is to ensure the constitutional rights to cast an unfettered vote – there ain’t no better way than to do that,” Clyburn said. “Joe Biden is not going to allow the voting rights of Black people to be sacrificed on the altar of the filibuster.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

82 unions and liberal groups urge Biden to go bigger on tax hikes and hold the wealthy accountable

joe biden
President Joe Biden.

  • 82 liberal groups urged Biden to go bigger on tax hikes and hold the wealthy accountable.
  • They cited Biden’s campaign proposals of reversing Trump’s tax cuts and investing in IRS enforcement.
  • Despite GOP opposition in Congress, the majority of Republican voters support tax increases.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden is unveiling the first part of his multitrillion-dollar infrastructure proposal today, which could include up to $3.5 trillion in tax hikes. Some unions and progressive organizations are saying he should go even bigger.

On Tuesday, 81 national organizations, led by Americans for Tax Fairness, sent a letter to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, commending the administration’s efforts to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and encouraging the president to go further. The letter said Biden’s tax plans were the “boldest of any major party presidential nominee in modern American history.”

The tax proposals have “received widespread media coverage and, perhaps more significant, your boldly progressive tax plan was heavily attacked by your political opponents, who spent untold millions of dollars and claimed falsely that the middle-class would pay more,” the letter said. “Yet, you won the most votes ever of any US presidential candidate, with a central promise of your campaign to make the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes. You have a clear mandate to pursue your agenda.”

The letter, which was signed by AFL-CIO and MoveOn, said that even among Republicans, raising taxes is popular. For example, a New York Times survey from November found that two-thirds of respondents, including 45% of Republican voters, supported tax increases on people making over $400,000, and an Americans for Tax Fairness survey from October found that 71% of Americans supported raising the income tax rate, including 51% of Republicans.

The best way to hold the wealthy accountable, according to the letter, is to reverse the “worst aspects” of former President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), including Biden’s proposals to:

  • Lift the corporate tax rate to 28% from the current 21%;
  • Restore the estate tax to its 2009 levels, meaning that still only the richest 0.59% of estates would get taxed;
  • And return the top marginal tax rate on the highest incomes to 39.6%, from the current 37%.

Aside from the TCJA proposed changes, Biden also proposed additional tax reforms during his campaign, like investing in Internal Revenue Service enforcement of high-income taxpayers and imposing a “financial-risk fee” on large Wall Street banks.

The letter said that even along with Biden’s campaign proposals, he could implement many other reforms, including a 10-percentage-point surtax on all incomes about $2 million, a financial transaction tax on bond and stock trades, and a wealth tax on ultra-millionaires.

Biden’s tax hikes have already faced opposition in Congress. While moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said an infrastructure proposal could be as large as $4 trillion using tax hikes as funding, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that won’t win his party’s support.

“I don’t think there’s going to be any enthusiasm on our side for a tax increase,” McConnell told reporters last week. Republicans even recently introduced a bill to repeal the estate tax, which would only affect 0.6% of farm estates.

But progressive lawmakers are continuing to push for measures that hold the ultra-rich accountable. Although Politico reported on Tuesday that Biden will not use a wealth tax to fund infrastructure, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has led the effort to propose a 2% tax on households with net worths over $50 million.

“A wealth tax is critical for raising revenue, and that revenue is critical for raising opportunity,” Warren said on Twitter on March 1. “We build a future for all of our kids by investing in opportunity. This is one way we can make this government work for everyone – not just the rich and powerful.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said he remains opposed to removing the filibuster, amid growing pressure from liberals to erase it

Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin on Capitol Hill.

  • Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin remains opposed to dumping the filibuster.
  • Some Democrats want the rule erased to overcome GOP opposition and enact sweeping reforms.
  • Manchin’s support is vital if Democrats are to reform or remove the rule.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said that he remains opposed to dumping the filibuster, a Senate rule that progressives want removed to overcome GOP opposition and enact sweeping reforms on gun control laws and voting rights.

The senator from West Virginia, a Republican-leaning state, has put a break on a push by some Democrats to use the party’s control of Congress to enact major reforms and sidestep GOP opposition and spoiling tactics.

“Pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits, but will inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the US government,” Manchin said in a statement Friday.

In remarks to The New York Times in an article published Saturday, Manchin defended the filibuster, saying that it had been designed to encourage bipartisan consensus and erasing it could destroy the Senate.

He also signaled opposition to suspending the rule for certain bills, as some Democrats have suggested.

“You’re either committed or not,” he remarked of the rule.

Manchin’s remarks have special weight because Democrats need the backing of all 50 of their senators to get bills passed or rules reformed, with the chamber currently evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats and Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaker.

The filibuster has been used as a spoiling tactic by Republicans and Democrats to block bills in recent years.

To overcome a filibuster and pass bills, 60 Senate votes are needed, meaning that Democrats will need to secure at least 10 Republicans’ support to overcome likely GOP filibusters on issues including gun control reform and voting rights.

The case for tighter federal gun control laws was highlighted by mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, and Boulder, Colorado, in the past fortnight, say advocates.

Democrats say that a federal voting rights bill is needed to counteract a push by state Republican legislatures to restrict voting access. No GOP senators have signaled support for reforming gun laws or expanding voting rights amid deep partisan divides on the issues.

But Manchin did say to the Times that he was open to reforming the filibuster and changing the rule to require senators to actually voice their opposition to a bill and speak out in the chamber. In theory, it’s a change that would make it harder to use the filibuster as a spoiling tactic and has been backed by President Joe Biden.

Current rules permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish, and on any topic they choose. In 2013 Sen. Ted Cruz spoke for 21 hours to stop the Affordable Care Act. During the filibuster, he read ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ by Dr. Seuss.

Manchin said his main goal is to get Republicans and Democrats in the Senate talking again.

“America’s declining trust in the government and each other makes it harder to solve key problems. That trust will continue to diminish unless we, as members of Congress, transcend partisanship,” he remarked in Friday’s statement.

Read the original article on Business Insider