President Biden on Thursday conceded that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s opposition to tax increases is “where it sort of breaks down” for his stalled $3.5 trillion social spending plan.
Sinema (D-Ariz.) this week made clear she opposes Biden’s proposed tax hikes on businesses and higher incomes, meaning that they are unlikely to pass in the evenly divided Senate, according to reports.
“She’s smart as a devil,” Biden said during a CNN town hall, which featured a series of friendly softball questions asking about proposed funding for childcare, parental leave and home healthcare subsidies.
“She’s very supportive of the environmental agenda in my legislation, very supportive. She’s supportive of almost all the things I mentioned relating to everything from a family care to all those issues,” Biden said of Sinema.
“Where she’s not supportive is she says she will not raise a single penny in taxes on the corporate side and/or on wealthy people, period. And so that’s where it sort of breaks down.”
Opposition from Sinema and Sen. Joe Machin (D-WVa.) to specific planks in the package have cast into doubt the size of the bill and Biden’s claim it would not add to the national debt or inflation.
Biden also admitted at the CNN event that the centrist Democrats are likely to tank proposals for free community college and Medicare funding for dental, vision and hearing services — and force the removal of at least some environmental programs.
“What we’re trying to do is reach a point here where I’m able to present to the Senate, able to vote on in the House, a serious, serious piece of legislation that changes the dynamic for working class folks in America and middle class folks and begins to have the very wealthy, the corporations just begin to pay their fair share — not a lot,” Biden said.
When pressed by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper on how Biden could pay for the bill considering Sinema’s opposition to tax hikes, he offered a much smaller proposed revenue-raiser: a proposed 15 percent global minimum tax on corporate income.
“If you in fact made sure that you paid a minimum 15% … that’s over almost $400 billion over 10 years,” he said. Democrats also have claimed that tougher IRS enforcement against tax cheats would raise significant funds.
Democrats are seeking to pass the bill under special budget reconciliation rules after the Senate-passed a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. Leftists in the House are threatening to derail the bipartisan bill if the Senate won’t pass the sweeping social package.
“We’re down to four or five issues which I’m not going to negotiate on national television,” Biden insisted, putting a positive spin on negotiations.