In Wisconsin, Biden says infrastructure plan would create millions of jobs

By Andrea Shalal

LA CROSSE, Wis. (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden promoted his $1.2 trillion infrastructure package as a “generational investment” on Tuesday as he sought to pump up support for a plan that is in need of wide support in Congress to become reality.

Biden visited a public transit facility in La Crosse, a city in western Wisconsin, highlighting the plan’s investment of some $48.5 billion in public transit to reduce commute times and help reduce emissions, while boosting economic growth and wages.

In a speech, he spoke about local gains from the deal, including funds for electric buses, replacement of some 80,000 lead water lines in Milwaukee and better access to high-speed internet.

The bipartisan package also includes $109 billion in funding for roads, bridges and other major projects, including the 1,000 bridges rated structurally deficient in Wisconsin.

“This is a generational investment to modernize our infrastructure, creating millions of good-paying jobs, and position America to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st century,” said Biden.

He also noted that the plan will not hike tax on gasoline or raise taxes on Americans earning under $400,000 a year.

Vowing the plan would create jobs for middle-class people, Biden said: “This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America.”

Biden is attempting to keep up the momentum for a legislative proposal that Democratic congressional leaders believe will reach a critical stage in the second half of July.

“I expect the last two weeks of July to be very busy weeks, when we will deal with the president’s proposals,” the No. 2 House Democrat, Steny Hoyer, told reporters on Tuesday.

House and Senate Democrats hope to have infrastructure legislation done and on its way to Biden’s desk by the end of September, a Democratic aide said.

Senate Democrats are aiming to pass bipartisan legislation and send it to the House, before breaking for an August recess.

Biden, under massive pressure from Republicans, on Saturday withdrew a threat to not sign the bipartisan bill unless it was accompanied by a separate package focused on what he calls “human infrastructure,” including expanded home care for the elderly and disabled.

Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that the White House had been in touch with Democratic leaders about the two measures but Biden had not spoken about the issue with U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who wants Democrats in Congress to abandon their plan to link the two measures.

With the Senate divided 50-50 between the two parties, a move by McConnell against the bipartisan bill could cost it the 60 votes it would need to pass under Senate rules. Democrats aim to pass the companion measure through a process called reconciliation that requires a simple majority.

Psaki said Biden’s trip to Wisconsin was intended to convince Americans about the importance of both packages. He will also travel to Michigan on Saturday.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Additional reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Steve Orlofsky and Cynthia Osterman)

Biden proposes 15% corporate minimum tax to win Republican backing of infrastructure plan

By David Shepardson and Jarrett Renshaw

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden offered to scrap his proposed corporate tax hike during negotiations with Republicans, two sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday, in what would be a major concession by the Democratic president as he works to hammer out an infrastructure deal.

Biden offered to drop plans to raise corporate tax rates as high as 28% and instead set a minimum 15% tax rate aimed at ensuring all companies pay taxes, sources said.

In return, Republicans would have to agree to at least $1 trillion in new infrastructure spending, one source said. And Biden has not given up on seeking as much as $1.7 trillion.

With the change, funding for the plan would lean heavily on increased tax enforcement, scrapping inheritance tax breaks for wealthy families as well as other sources like $75 billion in unspent COVID-19 relief funds, one source said.

Biden’s 15% tax floor seeks to stop large, multinational companies like Inc from paying little to no U.S. taxes. Currently many of these companies show large profits on earning statements but shift their liability to more tax-friendly countries.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Biden’s proposal “should be completely acceptable” to Republicans that want to leave 2017 corporate tax cuts in place, she said. “We’re open to other options,” Psaki said, as long as they do not hike taxes on people making less than $400,000.

The Biden alternative assumes $1.7 trillion in revenues over 15 years to pay for new spending over eight years.

The funds would include $700 billion from stepped-up enforcement of existing taxes, $200 billion from ending a capital gains tax break on large inheritances and $75 billion in unspent COVID-19 funds. The remainder would come from other proposals including ending certain fossil fuel subsidies, a new fee on commercial truck mileage and the 15% minimum corporate tax.

Biden’s initial plan called for $2.25 trillion in infrastructure spending and new revenue, including $857.8 billion from the prior proposal to raise corporate income tax from 21% to 28%.

“He is personally leaning in, willing to compromise, spending time with senators – Democrat and Republican – to find out what is the art of the possible,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told CNN in an interview on Thursday.

“The only thing he won’t accept is inaction,” she said. “It has to be big and bold, $1 trillion or more.”

Biden has a previously scheduled meeting with Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the party’s main negotiator on infrastructure, on Friday.

At an appearance in Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “We’re still hoping that we can come to an agreement on a fully paid for and a significant infrastructure package.”

He added that the discussions are focused on “maybe $1 trillion.” “I don’t know whether we’re going to reach an agreement or not,” he said.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renfrew, David Shepardson, DAvid Lawder, Steve Holland and David Morgan; Writing by Doina Chiacu and Heather Timmons; Editing by Susan Heavey, Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman)

Biden kicks off effort to reshape U.S. economy with infrastructure package

By Jarrett Renshaw

(Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Wednesday will call for a dramatic and more permanent shift in the direction of the U.S. economy with a roughly $2 trillion package to invest in traditional projects like roads and bridges alongside tackling climate change and boosting human services like elder care.

He also aims to put corporate America on the hook for the tab, which is expected to grow to a combined $4 trillion once he rolls out the second part of his economic plan in April.

Coupled with his recently enacted $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, Biden’s infrastructure initiative would give the federal government a bigger role in the U.S. economy than it has had in generations, accounting for 20% or more of annual output.

The effort, to be announced on Wednesday at an event in Pittsburgh, sets the stage for the next partisan clash in Congress where members largely agree that capital investments are needed but are divided on the total size and inclusion of programs traditionally seen as social services. Just how to pay for them will be a fractious issue in its own right.

Biden for now is ignoring a campaign promise and sparing wealthy Americans from any tax increase. The plan would increase the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% and change the tax code to close loopholes that allow companies to move profits overseas, according to a senior administration official.

It does not include expected increases in the top marginal tax rate or to the capital gains tax. The plan would spread the cost for projects over an eight-year period and aims to pay for it all over 15 years, the senior administration official said.

The plan also includes $621 billion to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, highways and ports, including a historic $174 billion investment in the electric vehicle market that sets a goal of a nationwide charging network by 2030.

Congress will also be asked to put $400 billion toward expanding access to affordable home or community-based care for aging Americans and people with disabilities.

There is $213 billion provided to build and retrofit affordable and sustainable homes along with hundreds of billions to support U.S. manufacturing, bolster the nation’s electric grid, enact nationwide high-speed broadband and revamp the nation’s water systems to ensure clean drinking water.


Biden is moving forward with the massive job and infrastructure effort as he navigates an ambitious time line to provide enough COVID vaccines for all adults by the end of May and the deployment of pandemic relief.

The White House is also dealing with a rise in the number of migrants at the southern border, the fallout from back-to-back mass shootings and a looming showdown over the Senate filibuster

The plan forms one part of the “Build Back Better” agenda that the administration aims to introduce. The White House has said the administration will introduce a second legislative package within weeks.

The second package is expected to include an expansion in health insurance coverage, an extension of the expanded child tax benefit, and paid family and medical leave, among other efforts aimed at families, the officials said.

White House officials have not explained whether they will seek to have both efforts pass at the same time or try to get Congress to approve one first.

The jockeying around Biden’s push has already begun, as allies push for inclusion of their priorities in the upcoming legislative effort and Republicans signal early concerns about the size and scope of the package.

Moderate Democrats have said the package should be more targeted to traditional infrastructure projects to attract Republican votes, seeking a return to bipartisan policymaking.

Liberal lawmakers want to use the party’s slim majorities in Congress to tackle some of the nation’s biggest problems, such as climate change and economic inequality, with resources that reflect the size of those challenges.

Representative Pramila Jayapal, a leading progressive Democrat, said on Tuesday that outside groups like Americans for Tax Fairness pegged the infrastructure and jobs plan that Biden rolled out on the campaign trail at between $6.5 trillion and $11 trillion over 10 years.

“We’d like to see a plan that goes big,” Jayapal said. “We really think that there’s ample room to get the overall number up to somewhere in that range in order to really tackle the scale of investments that we need to make.”

Republican Garret Graves, his party’s senior member on the House Select Committee on the climate crisis, said he was keeping an open mind but was concerned that Democrats were leveraging the popularity of infrastructure to usher in a broad expansion of social welfare.

“If they’re just going to encapsulate a cow pie in a candy shell, then I’m not there,” Graves said in an interview on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Makini Brice; Editing by Dan Burns and Peter Cooney)