Biden cuts infrastructure plan price tag to $1.7T in bid to secure deal with Senate GOP

by Editorial Team

WASHINGTON DC, (Washington Insider Magazine) – White House negotiators unveiled a watered-down version of President Biden’s infrastructure plan Friday that would cost $1.7 trillion instead of the original $2.3 trillion, hoping the lower price tag can garner support from spending-averse Republicans in Congress.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters the counter-offer from the Biden team cuts out some proposed funding for infrastructure-related research and development efforts, manufacturing and small businesses and shuffles those provisions over to other spending measures under consideration.

The revised blueprint also shaves the proposed pots of cash for expanding broadband access and repairing roads, bridges and other physical infrastructure to more closely align with spending figures floated by a group of moderate Republicans led by West Virginia Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, Psaki said.

“In our view, this is the art of seeking common ground,” Psaki said.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Biden’s chief negotiators in the infrastructure talks, unveiled the $1.7 trillion offer during a meeting with the Capito group on Friday afternoon, the White House said.

The Republicans did not immediately respond publicly to the adjusted infrastructure proposal. However, they are unlikely to pounce on it.

The GOP senators are advocating for a far more limited infrastructure measure worth about $560 billion and have shown little interest in meeting Biden in the middle.

Additionally, Biden’s holding firm with his proposal to pay for the infrastructure package through a series of tax hikes, no matter the total cost. The most significant increase pushed by Biden would bump the corporate tax rate to 28% from the current 21% implemented by former President Donald Trump’s signature 2017 cuts.

Republicans are especially irked by the proposed Trump cut reversal, claiming it’d hurt the U.S. economy. Earlier this month, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, called the Trump cuts a “red line” his caucus won’t cross and instead proposed paying for a scaled-back infrastructure bill via tolls, gas taxes and other fees on consumers.

Biden, who has said it’s high time for corporations to pay their “fair share” in taxes, could urge Democrats to pass his infrastructure plan without any Republican support through a complicated budgetary process known as reconciliation.

But Biden, who spent nearly 40 years in the Senate priding himself on his ability to reach bipartisan consensus, has said repeatedly that he hopes to get at least some GOP backing for the infrastructure bill, especially after his $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package passed Congress without a single Republican vote earlier this year.

As originally envisioned, Biden’s infrastructure plan would pump hundreds of billions of dollars into fixing and retrofitting the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, public transit, water and power grids, broadband communications and a slew of other infrastructure systems, creating millions of jobs and making the U.S. less reliant on fossil fuels in the process.

The president has said he hopes to reach an infrastructure deal by Memorial Day, which is rapidly approaching.

SOURCE

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