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U.S. Democrats narrow differences on Biden's agenda, mull billionaire tax

WorldOct 23, 2021 03:45PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) leaves the House floor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., October 12, 2021. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan 2/2

By David Morgan and Jarrett Renshaw

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Democrats are closing in on a deal on President Joe Biden's social and climate-change agenda by narrowing their differences over healthcare and other issues, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after a White House meeting on Friday.

"We had a very positive meeting this morning. I'm very optimistic," Pelosi told reporters on her return to the Capitol.

Democrats in the House, Senate and White House hope an agreement on a framework of $2 trillion or less will allow the House to move forward next week on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and set the stage for passage of Biden's larger "Build Back Better" social package.

Pelosi said there were only a few outstanding issues on the legislation's healthcare provisions and that decisions also remained on which revenue provisions to include.

"There are many decisions that have to be made, but more than 90% of everything is agreed to and written," Pelosi said. "We're narrowing the differences."

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, meanwhile, floated a "billionaires income tax" proposal that congressional sources said would apply to around 700 taxpayers and would raise hundreds of billions of dollars in fresh revenues to help offset the cost of the Biden plan.

"The Billionaires Income Tax is about fairness and showing the American people taxes aren't mandatory for them and optional for the wealthiest people in the country," Wyden said in a statement.

A source familiar with the White House's thinking on the billionaires tax said: "The president is favorably disposed towards this tax, as well as a series of other options that would ensure the wealthy pay their fair share and make the price tag."

The plan aims to clamp down on some billionaires who find loopholes to avoid or significantly lower their tax payments.

The congressional sources said the tax would apply to taxpayers with more than $1 billion in assets or over $100 million in income for three consecutive years.

Wyden's proposal aims to lure moderate Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema into supporting the legislation after balking at raising tax rates on the wealthy and corporations.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal sounded less optimistic about getting an agreement soon, after Biden said the social spending and climate change legislation was unlikely to include a higher U.S. corporate tax rate. Omitting the tax hike would require alternative revenue sources to pay for the legislation.

"One of the complicating factors here is that if you take up some of these new revenue measures, they're going to have to be vetted," Neal, whose panel oversees tax policy, told reporters. "Right now, it's hard to go back and revisit all of that."

The "Build Back Better" and infrastructure bills are at the heart of Biden's domestic agenda and could provide signature legislation to bolster both his presidency and Democratic hopes of retaining control of the House and Senate in the 2022 elections. Democrats hold razor-thin majorities in both chambers.

Biden, who took office nine months ago, said at a CNN town hall event in Baltimore on Thursday that he was close to striking a deal to pass both bills, after weeks of bickering among his fellow Democrats.

"I do think I'll get a deal," the president said.

Disagreements over the scale of the larger package have held up Biden's domestic agenda, with progressive Democrats in the House refusing to vote for the infrastructure bill, which has already been passed by the Senate, until a deal is reached on social programs and climate change.

Moderate Democrats, most notably Sinema and Senator Joe Manchin, had objected to the original $3.5 trillion price tag and some provisions of the latter bill. Republicans oppose the measure, but 19 in the Senate voted in support of the infrastructure legislation.

 

U.S. Democrats narrow differences on Biden's agenda, mull billionaire tax
 

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Comments (9)
Co Gonz
Co Gonz Oct 24, 2021 10:34AM ET
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the only billionaires allowed will be in Congress
Mike Brarey
Mike Brarey Oct 24, 2021 1:17AM ET
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of all the money spent so far, nothing has gone into actual infrastructure
leehiung chong
leehiung chong Oct 24, 2021 1:17AM ET
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nothing has been spent at all.. the law isn't approved yet
Co Gonz
Co Gonz Oct 24, 2021 1:17AM ET
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trillions has been spent over the years- look at the debt clock
James Pattison
James Pattison Oct 23, 2021 7:56PM ET
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No one spends other peoples money like this government
ZS Beck
ZS Beck Oct 23, 2021 4:58PM ET
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I don't approve anymore spending unless it's financed first.
James Andrews
James Andrews Oct 23, 2021 3:15PM ET
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As usual, the middle class will pay for it ALL.
jason xx
jason xx Oct 23, 2021 7:30AM ET
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Whats with this lady who refuses to raise the corporates tac on the wealthy and corporations? People making 75K a year paty 3X thew taxes they are paying at best. A lot of them dont pay taxes at all.
no spin
no spin Oct 23, 2021 6:36AM ET
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Good morning Belinda . Goodnight Belinda 12 hour night shift it's bedtime now.
Belinda Peter
Belinda Peter Oct 23, 2021 6:20AM ET
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hello
Kevin Wilkie
Kevin Wilkie Oct 23, 2021 6:18AM ET
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why would there be a tax increase in a bill that is supposed to be #free, or cost zero as the leftists like to say.
jason xx
jason xx Oct 23, 2021 6:18AM ET
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Uhhh really? The taxes are paying for the bill thats why its "zero cost"
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Oct 23, 2021 6:18AM ET
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Kevin sounds triggered lmao
Tyrone Jackson
Tyrone Jackson Oct 23, 2021 6:18AM ET
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Because liberals lie. That’s what they do. Biden said the 2 Trillion would not cost anything!! Lmfoa. It will hit his inner city poor that voted for him. Inflation killing the immigrant with 4 kids and a 14 hour job. Yet they voted for him. Just wait for his war drums to start Democrats love to war. As the poor that voted for him lose their sons and daughters. Lol
Co Gonz
Co Gonz Oct 23, 2021 6:18AM ET
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jason xx so it's not zero cost- it costs tax payers... logic
 
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