President Biden said Wednesday that he is open to compromise on his $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan but that he stands by his proposal to finance the plan by increasing taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans — an idea Republicans have soundly rejected.
“Everything I’m proposing that be done to generate economic growth and employment and put us in a position where we can out-compete any other country in the world with research and development and moving ahead, I pay for,” the president said Wednesday.
Republicans have bristled at Biden’s American Jobs Plan, saying the $2 trillion dollar price tag is too high for Americans, especially those earning more than $400,000.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, said Wednesday that he is “100 percent focused” on stopping the Biden administration from moving forward with the president’s agenda. While the economic proposal is popular with most Americans, according to surveys, prominent business organizations, including the US Chamber of Commerce, have come out against the effort.
Biden noted that McConnell said he wanted to make Barack Obama a one-term president. “He said that about the last administration — about Barack, that he was going to stop everything -- and I was able to get a lot done with him,” the president said in response to question following prepared remarks.
Biden criticized Republicans for their 2017 support of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, and said even conservative think tanks noted that those tax breaks did not stimulate the economy the way GOP lawmakers promised.
“My Republican friends had no problem voting to pass a tax proposal that expires in 2025 that cost $2 trillion — none of it paid for, increased the deficit by $2 trillion, gave the overwhelming percentage of those tax breaks to people who didn’t need it,” he said.
“I’m willing to compromise, but I’m not willing to not pay for what we’re talking about. I’m not willing to deficit spend,” he said.
Biden said the way to actually increase productivity and stimulate economic growth is to have corporations pay more taxes that will create a million jobs and fund the construction and repair of bridges, highways, and other long-neglected infrastructure projects.
Nearly 200,000 applications for restaurant relief funds
A total of 186,200 restaurants, bars, and other eligible businesses applied for help from a new $28.6 billion federal aid program in the first two days it was accepting applications, President Biden said Wednesday, indicating huge demand from a struggling industry for limited relief funds.
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund was created by Congress as part of the $1.9 trillion relief bill passed in March. Business owners who were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic can apply for grants of up to $10 million.
The return of the dining industry will be a major test of Biden’s goal of getting back to normal, both for 2.3 million people whose restaurant jobs disappeared during the pandemic and for vaccinated Americans eager to go out and socialize again.
Promoting the new fund, Biden said on Wednesday that restaurants were “woven into the fabric of our communities” and described the industry as one of the best paths for many people to achieve the American dream.
“One in three Americans, a restaurant provided their first job,” Biden said. “More than half of all Americans have worked in a restaurant at some point in their lives.”
For the first 21 days, the Small Business Administration will approve claims only from businesses that are majority-owned by women, veterans, or individuals who qualify as both socially and economically disadvantaged.
The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said Wednesday that 97,600 of the applications received in the program’s first two days had come from businesses owned by people who fell into those categories.
New York Times
US asks for outside lawyer to review Giuliani documents
WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to appoint an outside lawyer to review the records seized from Rudy Giuliani — echoing the Justice Department’s pursuit of a criminal case against a previous attorney for former president Donald Trump, Michael Cohen.
In a letter unsealed Tuesday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan asked US District Judge Paul Oetken to appoint what’s known as a special master to examine evidence taken late last month from the former New York mayor’s home and office. They cited the Cohen case as a past example when such an appointment helped to show that Trump’s lawyer was treated fairly.
FBI agents seized cellphones and other electronic devices from Giuliani, as well as the cellphone of District of Columbia-area lawyer Victoria Toensing, as part of an investigation to determine whether Giuliani acted as an unregistered agent of foreign interests. Giuliani, who worked as a lawyer for Trump in 2019 and 2020, the time frame under investigation, has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing.
It is not that unusual for authorities in a case involving lawyers’ records to use a “filter” or “taint” team to review seized material and decide what information is relevant to the warrant and keep separate any information that is covered by attorney-client privilege.
It is unusual, however, for prosecutors to preemptively ask for an outside special master to oversee such work and make determinations. In the Cohen case, his defense attorneys requested such an appointment, and the judge agreed.
Analysis shows Biden plan will cots $700b more
President Biden’s American Families Plan will cost about $700 billion more than advertised because the White House underestimated the cost of its child-care and education policies, according to a new analysis by the Penn Wharton Budget Model.
The plan, which includes child tax credits, paid leave, and tuition-free community college, would boost government spending by $2.5 trillion over a decade, compared with the $1.8 trillion estimated by the White House, according to the widely used model developed at the University of Pennsylvania.
The analysis found that the program’s tax increases on wealthy households and corporations would raise $1.3 trillion in revenue over the next decade, rather than the $1.5 trillion that the government expects, if implemented in full. It would also trim about 0.3 percent off gross domestic product by 2031.
The family plan is widely expected to undergo some revisions in Congress, where Biden has the narrowest of majorities as he seeks to push through spending programs worth some $4 trillion, as well as tax hikes. Penn Wharton’s higher price-tag may give ammunition to Republican critics of the plan, or to Democrats seeking to lower its cost.
Other economists have reached different conclusions. A study by Moody’s released this week found that while Biden’s plan may cost a bit more than expected — almost $2 trillion after combining direct spending and tax credits — it would largely pay for itself by raising more than $1.7 trillion in revenue.