Pelosi upbeat on Biden deal but Manchin pans billionaire tax

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated Wednesday to colleagues that Democrats are "pretty strong" in President Joe Biden’s sweeping domestic plan.

Pelosi upbeat on Biden deal but Manchin pans billionaire tax

But, new problems emerged when a pivotal Democrat criticized a new tax for billionaires to pay for the $1.75 Trillion package.

Biden and Democrats are racing for talks to close before the president departs this Week for overseas summits. This is partly to show foreign leaders that the U.S. has been getting things done in his new administration.

According to Jen Psaki, White House press secretary Jen Psaki, the president could visit Capitol Hill at night and that the administration is still assessing the situation "hour-by-hour".

Psaki stated at the White House that "we are on track now and will move forward once we have an agreement."

New hopes were raised Wednesday by the positive comments made by Democratic leaders about Biden's large proposal for social services and climate change programmes. Negotiations were hampered by new setbacks. A recently proposed tax on billionaires, which Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia opposed, could be dropped, according to a senior party adviser who asked anonymity to discuss private talks. Manchin dismissed it as unfairly targeting wealthy.

Manchin stated that people in the stratosphere should be encouraged, and not penalized.

Manchin stated that he would prefer a flat 15% "patriotic tax" so that the richest Americans do not skip paying taxes. He said, "There is a patriotic obligation that you should pay something to this great nation."

He said, however: "We must move forward -- The president has made it very clear -- he wants us to move ahead and we owe that to him to do so."

White House officials met with Manchin and another important Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona at the Capitol.

Sinema said, "Making Progress," as she ran into an elevator.

As Biden tried to get a deal done in time for the global summits, negotiations moved at a rapid pace. A Sunday deadline is set to approve a smaller bipartisan bill on roads and bridges infrastructure. Otherwise, funds for routine transportation programs could be withdrawn. Progressive lawmakers are refusing support for the $1 trillion bill without the larger Biden deal.

In a letter to her colleagues, Pelosi requested a Thursday committee hearing in order to review the packages. This is a common step before the House votes. During a private meeting with House Democrats, her earlier remarks were made.

Democrats hoped that the unveiling the billionaires tax would help to resolve the revenue side after Sinema rejected their earlier plan of reverse tax breaks for corporations and wealthy under Trump.

The proposal of the new billionaires would tax the gains of people with assets of over $1 billion or incomes exceeding $100 million for three years.

It would affect the richest Americans, less than 800, and require them to pay taxes on gains from stocks or other tradeable assets.

Similar billionaires' taxes would apply to non-tradeable assets such as real estate. However, the tax would not be assessed until the asset was sold. Interest would still have to be paid.

The billionaires' tax rate will be the same as the capital gains rate (currently 23.8%). Democrats claim it could generate $200 billion in revenue, which could be used to fund Biden's package for 10 years.

"No senator wants be the one to say, 'Gee! I think it's just fine that billionaires pay little or none taxes for years on end.'" stated Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon, who is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

The new billionaires' proposal and a 15% corporate minimum tax are combined to satisfy Biden's desire that the rich and big business pay their fair share. They also fit his promise to no new taxes on those earning less $400,000 per year or $450,000 for married couples. Biden wants his package to be fully paid for, without adding debt.

"I've been discussing this for years," stated Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass. ), who supported Wyden's plan to tax wealth. "I've made billionaires cry over it."

The new tax proposals were acceptable to Manchin, and could win Sinema's support in the 50-50 split Senate, where Biden does not have enough votes. However, Republicans have criticized the tax on billionaires as "harebrained" and suggested that it might be subject to legal challenges.

Other Democrats have also criticized the idea of a tax on billionaires as being too cumbersome, or worse.

The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Democratic Rep. Richard Neal, Massachusetts, stated that he had told Wyden that the tax on billionaires may be more difficult than the path his panel chose to simply raise rates on corporations and wealthy and undo the 2017 tax cuts.

The House bill, which was approved by Neal's panel in the House, would see the highest individual income tax rate rise from 37% - 39.6% for those who earn more than $400,000 per year or $450,000 for couples. The corporate rate would rise from 21% to 26.5%. A 3% surtax of $5 million or more per year for the richest Americans is also proposed in the bill.

Sinema and Manchin's objections together have packed a powerful punch. They have thrown Biden's overall plan into turmoil and reduced the $3.5 trillion package by half.

This was also causing difficult reductions, or even elimination, in policy priorities, from paid family leave to care for children to senior dental, vision, and hearing aid benefits.

The once-stout climate change strategies are also losing some weight. Instead of focusing on punitive measures against polluters, which were criticized by coal-state Manchins, the focus is shifting to rewarding clean energy incentives.

As Democratic colleagues tire of repeated objections from Sinema and Manchin, the tempers are drying up.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent, stated: "You got 48 of 50 people backing an agenda that works in the American people's favor."

Updated Date: 27 October 2021, 15:45

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