Washington

Biden frames spending push as ‘choice’ between benefiting wealthy versus working families


President Biden on Thursday framed his push for a $4 trillion economic agenda and higher taxes on corporations and wealthier Americans as a “choice” between who in the country should benefit.

“This is all about making a choice — a choice between giving tax breaks to [the] super-wealthy and to corporations and investing in working families,” Mr. Biden said from Lake Charles, Louisiana. “In my view, it’s an easy choice — invest in workers wearing hard hats and doing the hard work of rebuilding the country.”

The president said he’s sick and tired of corporate America not paying their “fair share” in taxes.

Mr. Biden said his plans to hike taxes on corporations and upper-income individuals won’t affect wealthy Americans’ standard of living.

“This is not punishing anybody,” he said. “All those folks are still going to have two homes or three homes and their jets – it won’t matter. Not going to change their standard of living one little bit.”

The president wants to fund his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan and $1.8 trillion “families” proposal by increasing the U.S. corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% and increasing the top individual income tax rate from 37% to 39.6%, among other changes.

Mr. Biden delivered the speech near the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge, a 70-year-old bridge in “poor” condition that is 20 years older than its designed lifespan.

“It’s a perfect example how we’ve neglected, as a nation, to invest in the future of our economy,” the president said. “It shouldn’t be this hard or take so long to fix a bridge that’s this important.”

The White House says Mr. Biden‘s infrastructure plan, which allocates $115 billion nationally for roads and bridges, could help the state cut down on bridge tolls to fund a replacement project.

Former President Trump had vowed to get things moving on a new bridge — if he was reelected — during a swing through Louisiana in 2019.

“If we win this election, we’re giving you a brand-new I-10 bridge,” Mr. Trump had said. “We’re gonna have it all set, ready to go day one, right after the election.”

Mr. Biden said the previous administration’s perpetual flirtation with a major infrastructure package never panned out.

“We have failed to properly invest in infrastructure for half a century,” he said. “The last four years, how many times did [they] say this is going to be infrastructure week? Well, I got so tired of hearing infrastructure week — nothing happened. Nothing has happened.”

Mr. Biden said he’s willing to compromise with Republicans on his proposal but that inaction isn’t an option in his mind.

“I’m not ready to have another period where America has another infrastructure month and doesn’t change a damn thing,” he said. “America is more competitive, better, and more capable than any nation in the world. There’s not a damn thing we cannot do when we do it together.”

Mr. Biden was also set to tour the Carrollton Water Plant in New Orleans — a facility the White House says would benefit from the roughly $111 billion for water infrastructure in his plan.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican, said his home state isn’t buying what Mr. Biden is selling.

“Republicans stand ready to work on a bipartisan package that focuses on actual infrastructure, like rebuilding our roads, bridges and waterways — but America does not need trillions in unrelated socialist spending schemes disguised as infrastructure,” Mr. Scalise said.

Republicans have balked at the combined $4.1 trillion price tag of Mr. Biden‘s infrastructure and “families” plans, saying they won’t support the proposed tax hikes the president wants to use to fund some of the spending.

Senate Republicans’ $568 billion infrastructure counter-proposal allocates $299 billion for roads and bridges, $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, and $17 billion for ports and inland waterways, among other items.

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