Biden backs down on corporate tax hikes, open to filibuster modification
BALTIMORE, Oct.21 (Reuters) – US President Joe Biden on Thursday withdrew from promised tax increases to fund planned infrastructure and social spending, and also said he was open to rights reform. vote in the Senate by “fundamentally changing” its custom of obstruction.
At a large CNN town hall in Baltimore, Biden said he was set to strike a deal to pass major spending measures after weeks of party feuds among fellow Democrats.
However, he said increasing corporate tax rates, one of his most-cited promises, was unlikely to be part of the legislation. A separate corporate minimum tax proposal could fund social programs that are at the heart of its national agenda, Biden said.
Asked about voting rights, Biden expressed support for changing the Senate’s tradition of obstruction, which requires 60 of 100 U.S. senators to agree on most laws. This obstacle has left the Democratic Party powerless on key social issues given its slim majority. It “remains to be seen” whether he plans to remove the filibuster entirely, Biden added.
Taxes were a central issue in Biden’s social spending plan, which is the subject of heated debate in Capitol Hill and the White House as negotiators strike a balance between progressives wanting a range of new programs. and moderates worried about the cost. Read more
The tax compromise could help sell the plan to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who expressed concern about Biden’s plan to raise corporate taxes after the Trump administration cut them from 35% to 21% in 2017.
Sinema and Senator Joe Manchin, both moderate Democrats, pushed for a smaller package and opposed parts of the bill.
Negotiations are now focused on four or five issues, Biden said. He then said a clean energy performance plan had not been abandoned, adding that Sinema was “very supportive” of its environmental program.
Biden noted with confidence his $ 1,000 billion bipartisan infrastructure deal and a separate social spending plan that is expected to cost less than $ 2,000 billion.
When asked if Democrats are close to a deal, Biden replied, “I think so.” Later he added: “If we can’t someday someday this country, we will have big problems.… I think I will make a deal.”
FILIBUSTER UNDER FIRE
When asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper if he would consider “fundamentally altering” the filibuster to ensure the passage of the voting rights reform, Biden said, “And maybe more.”
Biden spent 36 years in the Senate and had previously said he opposed changes to the filibuster tradition, but earlier this month he said he was open to a one-off change in the face of the risk of federal default on its debt.
Some Senate Democrats this year have suggested changing the rule in the face of Republican opposition in the tightly divided chamber.
“Their agenda at the moment is just to stop Biden,” the president said.
Regarding the spending bill, Biden said he could use tax incentives instead of a power grid proposal to meet climate goals. Manchin, Biden added, is open to such incentives.
Biden said that “it would be a reach” for his spending bill to include provisions that help with both hearing aids, dental care and visual benefits.
Pressed by the importance of education, Biden said he still expects a free community college, which has been cut from the spending program, over the next several years.
Cooper asked the president how his wife, Jill Biden, a community college professor, responded to the measure’s removal from his social spending initiative.
“Well, the White House has a lot of rooms,” Biden joked.
Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Nandita Bose and Steve Holland; Additional reports by Chris Gallagher and Mohammed Zargham; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Peter Cooney, Sandra Maler, Noeleen Walder and Jane Wardell
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