Joe Biden is either bound and determined to win some Republican support for his infrastructure bill or he is laying a trap for Republicans to walk into.
The White House announced a compromise proposal by Biden on corporate taxes that will reveal whether or not the GOP wants a deal at all. The president proposed a 15 percent minimum corporate tax instead of jacking the rate up to 28 percent. He hasn’t given up the idea of raising the corporate rate higher, but for purposes of compromise, will accept the lower number.
The infrastructure plan has now shrunk to $1 trillion, down from $2.3 trillion originally, to be spent on roads, bridges, pipes, and the internet. The rest of the bill that Republicans complained bitterly about — billions for electric vehicles, a huge expansion of Medicaid benefits, undermining state right to work laws — will apparently be left for another day.
The offer marked an attempt by the White House to thread a delicate political needle. It aimed to preserve the president’s 2020 campaign pledge not to raise taxes on Americans making under $400,000 a year, while steering clear of the “red line” set down by Republicans who see the 2017 tax cuts as their crowning economic achievement.
Biden long has decried the fact that some of the country’s most profitable enterprises pay nothing in taxes. He stressed during his first-ever address to Congress last month that it is time to close “tax loopholes,” urging lawmakers to “reform corporate taxes so they pay their fair share and help pay for the public investments their businesses will benefit from as well.”
Will it tempt enough Republicans to get them to break with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and vote for the package?
Both sides are set to meet again Friday, though Republican leaders are still deciding whether to put forward another counter-offer or to walk away from the negotiations entirely, according to a second source familiar with the talks.
Capito did not respond to a request for comment. The White House also did not respond. Politico first reported on the $1 trillion offer.
The latest exchange comes as top White House officials have started to signal that time is running out on striking a bipartisan deal. Biden has labored to secure Republican support on infrastructure after advancing his last economic policy priority, a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, without GOP votes — though he has made clear that he is not willing to haggle indefinitely.
If Republicans don’t stick together now, they are dead in the water. If Biden wants an infrastructure bill, let him bring it to a Republican Congress in 2022. A compromise like the one he is making on this bill might be more palatable then.