- The Washington Times
Monday, May 3, 2021

President Biden on Monday said he plans to get Republicans behind his massive $4 trillion spending agenda as he teed up a battle royal over the future of the 2017 tax cuts — a red line for the GOP in the negotiations.

Mr. Biden spoke ahead of planned talks with GOP lawmakers on his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal and $1.8 trillion families plan that both face uphill climbs in Congress.

“Let’s get together. Let’s get this done,” Mr. Biden said. “If you look at the polling data, Republican voters overwhelmingly support it. Now I just got to get some of my Republican colleagues to support it.”

Speaking at Tidewater Community College in Portsmouth, Virginia, Mr. Biden touted, among other provisions, the two years of free community college that he included in the $1.8 trillion package.

The president pointed out that he also wants to extend a bolstered child tax credit through 2025, though many Democrats are pushing for a permanent extension.

“What’s going to happen in 2025, as the press knows, is the tax cuts of the last president expire,” Mr. Biden said. “And then we’re going to compete as to what tax credits there are.”

Congress voted for a one-year expansion of the $2,000-per-child credit to up to $3,600 as part of Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

The president wants to finance the $4 trillion-plus in spending by rolling back major provisions of the 2017 tax law, which lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and slashed individual income tax rates across the board.

Mr. Biden wants to push the top individual income tax rate to 39.6% from 37% and increase the corporate tax rate to 28%.

Mr. Biden is unlikely to get any GOP support for his $4 trillion agenda and Republicans aren’t revisiting the 2017 tax law, said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“We’re not willing to pay for it by undoing the 2017 bill,” the Kentucky Republican said in Louisville.

Increasing the top individual rate back to 39.6% would generate roughly $13 billion per year in revenue and two years of free community college would cost roughly $11 billion, according to the White House.

“For folks at home, I’d like to ask a question: do we want to give the wealthiest people in America another tax cut?” Mr. Biden said. “Or do you want to give every high school graduate the ability to earn a community college degree on their way to good-paying jobs or on their way to four years of school in industries of the future?”

Republicans say it’s not as simple as taxing the rich to get additional cash and that middle-class families will suffer indirectly from Mr. Biden’s plans by way of higher energy bills and hits to their retirement accounts.

Mr. Biden plans to meet next week on his plans with Congress’ “big four” leaders — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, Mr. McConnell, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

The president has spoken with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works committee, about Senate Republicans’ $568 billion counterproposal on infrastructure, which rejects Mr. Biden’s tax increases and focuses on more traditional infrastructure projects like roads and bridges.

The president used his Monday swing through southeastern Virginia to highlight the education spending in his proposals.

The $2.3 trillion package includes at least $100 billion for school upgrades. In addition to free community college, the $1.8 trillion plan also includes money for universal pre-K programs.

Mr. Biden and first lady Jill Biden also spoke with a Tidewater instructor and several students about HVAC systems.

Earlier, the Bidens visited an elementary school classroom in Yorktown, Virginia, where they heard students talk about how they would pretend to shut off their microphones or take naps over the past year during the strange new world of virtual learning.

“We saw what being in school means for those kids,” Mr. Biden said. “Safely reopening a majority of the K-8 schools was one of my top priorities in my first 100 days because there’s so much that happens when they don’t have the certitude and the companionship and familiarity [of] being with their friends.”

Republicans said the president is too beholden to teacher’s unions to craft and promote education policies that put children first. Leading unions have resisted reopening classrooms during the pandemic, saying they don’t want to put their teachers in harm’s way.

State Del. Amanda Batten, a Republican who represents the Yorktown area, said Virginia Democrats were the ones throwing up roadblocks to getting kids back in the classroom.

“If the president truly wants kids back in school as he says he does, then he can encourage the Democrats in Virginia … to support policies that will allow kids to at least recoup some of their learning here at the end of this school year,” Ms. Batten said on a call organized by the Republican National Committee.

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