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Biden: ‘Inaction’ not an option on infrastructure

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"We invest today so that these jobs will be here in America tomorrow!"

U.S. President Joe Biden sharpened arguments for his $2 trillion-plus new spending proposal in a speech on Wednesday - challenging those who oppose his plan and the taxes that would be raised to pay for it and arguing that investing in infrastructure will create jobs.

"It’s also a blueprint for infrastructure needed for tomorrow, not just yesterday, for tomorrow. For American jobs, for American competitiveness..."

Biden faces stiff opposition from Republicans, companies and even some in his own Democratic Party to key elements of the proposal he laid out a week ago, which must be approved by Congress to become a reality.

Biden is planning a host of investments over eight years on roads and bridges, but also expanding broadband internet access, caring for the elderly, boosting domestic manufacturers and building high-speed rail.

The president said he was willing to negotiate, but reiterated his pledge not to raise taxes on any American making less than $400,000.

"Debate is welcome, compromise is inevitable. over the next few weeks we’ll hear from republicans and democrats and, from everyone. but here’s what we won’t be open to. we’re not going to be open to doing nothing - inaction is imply not an option.”

As for how to pay for it - the largest share of funding for the proposal would come from a sharp increase in the corporate tax rate to 28%, from the 21% set by President Trump in 2017.

Biden's plan also raises taxes on companies' overseas earnings and introduces a new minimum tax on the profits they report to investors.

“It’s honest, it’s fair, fiscally responsible, and it pays for what we need. And it reduces the debt over the long term."

On Wednesday, the Treasury Department released details of the tax elements of the proposal, including plans to increase auditing and enforcement, that it said would raise about $2.5 trillion over 15 years.

At times Biden sounded downright incredulous, saying it wasn’t fair to American tax payers that so many corporations paid no taxes.

"I'm not trying to punish anybody - but damnit, maybe it’s because I’m from a middle class family - but I’m sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced."

The business lobby and Republicans have been withering in their criticisms of the proposal. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest U.S. business group, last month called Biden's proposed hike in corporate taxes "dangerously misguided"

But Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said on Tuesday that he supports hiking the U.S. corporate tax rate as part of an infrastructure overhaul. But the carefully worded statement stopped short of endorsing the full spectrum of Biden's proposals.

Video Transcript

JOE BIDEN: We invest today so that these jobs will be here in America tomorrow.

- US President Joe Biden sharpened arguments for his $2 trillion-plus new spending proposal in a speech on Wednesday, challenging those who oppose his plan and the taxes that would be raised to pay for it, and arguing investing in infrastructure will create jobs.

JOE BIDEN: But it also is a blueprint for infrastructure needed for tomorrow-- not just yesterday, tomorrow-- for American jobs, for American competitiveness.

- Biden faces stiff opposition from Republicans, companies, and even some in his Democratic Party, to key elements of the proposal he laid out a week ago, which must be approved by Congress to become a reality. Biden is planning a host of investments over eight years on roads and bridges, but also expanding broadband internet access, caring for the elderly, boosting domestic manufacturers and building high-speed rail.

As for how to pay for it-- the largest share of funding for the proposal would come from a sharp increase in the corporate tax rate to 28%, from the 21% set by President Trump in 2017. Biden's plan also raises taxes on companies' overseas earnings and introduces a new minimum tax on the profits they report to investors.

JOE BIDEN: It's honest, it's fair, it's fiscally responsible, and it pays for what we need and reduces the debt over the long haul.

- The President said he was willing to negotiate, but reiterated his pledge not to raise taxes on any American making less than $400,000.

JOE BIDEN: Debate is welcome. Compromise is inevitable. Changes are certain. In the next few weeks, the Vice President and I will be meeting with Republicans and Democrats to hear from everyone, and we'll be listening. We'll be open to good ideas and good-faith negotiations, but here's what we won't be open to-- we will not be open to doing nothing. Inaction simply is not an option.

- On Wednesday, the Treasury Department released details of the tax elements of the proposal, including plans to increase auditing and enforcement, that it said would raise about $2.5 trillion over 15 years. At times, Biden sounded downright incredulous, saying it wasn't fair to American taxpayers that so many corporations paid no taxes.

JOE BIDEN: I'm not trying to punish anybody, but damn it, maybe it's because I come from a middle class neighborhood. I'm sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced."

- The business lobby and Republicans have been withering in their criticisms of the proposal the US Chamber of Commerce, the largest US business group, last month called Biden's proposed hike in corporate taxes quote, "dangerously misguided". But Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said on Tuesday that he supports hiking the US corporate tax rate as part of an infrastructure overhaul, but the carefully worded statement stopped short of endorsing the full spectrum of Biden's proposals.