Biden, Yellen seek support for $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure package

President Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen promoted the administration’s infrastructure and fiscal plans as vital for the United States to be globally competitive, as the White House and Republican lawmakers continued to strike a deal to improve the country’s bridges, roads and broadband internet.

Calling himself a “car guy,” Mr. Biden traveled to Dearborn, Mich., On Tuesday to visit the Ford Motor. Co.

Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, using the facility to present its $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, which includes financing for electric vehicles. He argued that his proposals would help create jobs and make the United States more competitive with countries like China.

“The future of the auto industry is electric,” he said. “The real question is whether we are going to lead or if we are going to fall behind in the race towards the future. What if we will build these vehicles and the batteries that contain them here in the United States or in other countries. “

Both Democrats and Republicans are interested in spending money on the country’s infrastructure. But the two sides disagree on what this plan should be and how to pay for it. Explains Gerald F. Seib of the WSJ. Photo illustration: Emma Scott

Mr Biden spoke in front of a range of trucks and referred to the Ford F-150 Lightning, a new electric pickup. Subsequently, he tested a vehicle which the White House claimed was this model.

“This sucker is fast,” Biden told reporters. When asked if he would be willing to answer a question about Israel, he replied, “Not unless you get in front of the car when I walk on it.” He then said he was teasing.

The president’s visit to advance his national priorities comes as he faces a growing foreign policy challenge, amid a violent clash between Israel and the militant group Hamas. Dearborn has a large Arab-American population and protests were underway there on Tuesday.

Mr Biden had expressed support for a ceasefire on Monday in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, although he came under pressure from some Democrats, including Representative Rashida Tlaib (D., Michigan ), the only Palestinian. American in Congress, to do more to end hostilities. Mr Biden addressed Ms Tlaib in his remarks on Tuesday, calling her a fighter and saying he prays “her grandmother and her family are fine”, referring to her family in the West Bank.

He then reverted to his infrastructure plan, which provides $ 174 billion for electric vehicles, including funding to build charging stations and discounts and incentives for Americans to buy electric cars. Some Republicans have said the package includes too much money for the electric vehicle industry and want Mr Biden to prioritize road and bridge repairs.

The proposal – one of two economic plans designed to invest in U.S. workers and infrastructure – calls for repairing roads and bridges, as well as expanding broadband Internet access and increased funding for research and development. To help pay for the package, he proposed raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and increasing taxes on foreign profits of US corporations.

Mr Biden said he was open to compromise. A group of Republican senators met with administration officials on Tuesday on an alternative GOP infrastructure plan.


Do you think there can be a bipartisan agreement on an infrastructure agreement? Why or why not? Join the conversation below.

“We think we can find a bipartisan deal,” Biden said. “But doing nothing is not an option.”

Senate Republicans who attended the meeting said the group discussed the timing of the proposed infrastructure spending and alternative ways to pay it, adding that they anticipate a White House response this week.

While the White House’s $ 2.3 trillion proposal calls for spending over eight years, the GOP’s $ 568 billion plan spreads the money over five years. Republicans have said any spending deal will depend on the package’s timeline, and Sen. Roger Wicker (R., Miss.), A participant, has said he will support an eight-year plan. Leading Republicans have said they could support spending of up to $ 800 billion.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this ended up being an eight-year program, I think that’s realistic,” said Wicker, the senior Republican on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “The infrastructure takes time to build.”

Republicans rejected the White House’s proposed tax hikes, and lawmakers said they discussed various funding alternatives for the package at Tuesday’s meeting.

Senator Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) said attendees discussed public-private partnerships and possible charges on electric vehicles. Mr Wicker said he had discussed a proposal to create a new class of municipal infrastructure bonds.

Speaking at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event, Yellen sought support from business leaders, saying the proposal would put U.S. businesses on a better footing to compete abroad. .

“We are convinced that the investments and tax proposals in the jobs plan, taken as a whole, will improve the bottom line of our businesses and improve their global competitiveness,” said Ms. Yellen.

“We believe that the corporate sector can contribute to this effort by paying its fair share,” Ms. Yellen said. “At the same time, we want to remove the incentives that reward companies for moving their activities overseas and shifting profits to low-tax countries.”

Administration officials pressured business leaders to back the infrastructure plan, saying investments in areas such as skills training and roads would benefit companies.

“The proposed tax increases would put American businesses at a significant disadvantage and hurt American workers.”

– Suzanne Clark, Executive Director of the United States Chamber

After Ms Yellen spoke on Tuesday, Suzanne Clark, the chamber’s chief executive, said the administration was right in defending the infrastructure, but the chamber disagreed with the need to increase costs. corporate taxes to fund spending. “We want to be there with them to do it, but there are other ways to fund it,” Ms. Clark said.

“The data and the evidence are clear,” she added. “The proposed tax increases would put American businesses at a significant disadvantage and hurt American workers, and now is not the time to erect new barriers to economic recovery.”

Ms Yellen, speaking at the Chamber’s Online Global Forum on Economic Recovery, said corporate taxes in the United States were at a historically low level of 1% of gross domestic product and the administration sought to bring them back to historical standards.

Corporate tax as a share of GDP can be misleading as, over time, more business activity in the United States has shifted to forms imposed under the personal income tax system. Mr. Biden’s proposed corporate tax changes will push the middle-of-the-pack United States among major economies closer to the top.

Ms Yellen reiterated her call for a global minimum corporate tax to “stop the race to the bottom” in which countries compete for investments by offering the lowest tax rates.

If the United States raises its tax rates and imposes higher burdens on the foreign profits of American companies, a global minimum tax would help prevent companies based in other countries from having a potential advantage.

Ms. Yellen said the United States must invest more if it is to be globally competitive.

“We have not maintained our infrastructure let alone modernized it,” she said. “We have not supported enough public research and development to ensure that America maintains its technological lead. We have not embraced the investments in education and training that we need to keep up with technological change and to be competitive in the international market as we have in the past, ”she said.

Biden’s $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure plan

Write to Catherine Lucey at [email protected], John McCormick at [email protected] and Andrew Duehren at [email protected]

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