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President Joe Biden will deliver his final pitch on the $1.75 trillion budget reconciliation package in separate speeches Thursday morning, one in a closed-door meeting before the House Democratic Caucus and a second in televised remarks to the nation.
The dual appearances will occur just before Biden departs Washington, D.C., for back-to-back meetings with European leaders at the G-20 and COP26 summits.
Biden stated during his televised address that "any single part of this framework would fundamentally be viewed as a fundamental change in America" and that "taken together, they’re truly consequential."
The president appeared to address the divide between centrist and progressive Democrats on the lengthy negotiations.
"We spent hours and hours over months and months working on this. No one got everything they wanted, including me, but that’s what compromise is. That’s consensus, and that’s what I ran on," Biden stated. "I’ve long said compromise and consensus are the only way to get big things done in a democracy, important things done for our country. I know it’s hard. I know how deeply people feel about the things they fight for, but this framework includes historic investments in our nation and in our people."
"We can’t be competitive in the 21st century global economy if we continue to slide," the president continued, detailing the country's recent failure to address infrastructure and education. "That’s why I’ve said all along we need to build America up from the bottom up and the middle out, not from the top down, with the trickle-down economics that have always failed us. I can’t think of a single time the middle class has done well that the wealthy haven’t done very well. I can think of many times when the wealthy and super-wealthy do very well and the middle class don’t do well."
"That’s why I proposed the investments Congress is now considering in two critical pieces of legislation, positions I ran on as president, positions announced when I laid out in a joint session of Congress what my economic agenda was," he added. "These are not about left versus right or moderate versus progressive or anything else that pits Americans against one another. This is about competitiveness versus complacency, competitiveness versus complacency. It’s about expanding opportunity, not opportunity to deny. It’s about leading the world."
White House officials framed the Build Back Better Act Thursday morning as a "historic economic growth and climate package that will ensure our economy delivers for middle-class families, not just those at the top and gives them financial freedom."
"This will mean the most transformative investment in children and caregiving in generations, the largest effort to combat climate change in history, and historic tax cut for tens of millions of middle-class families and the biggest expansion of affordable healthcare in a decade," one official added during a background briefing on the package. "And it is entirely paid for by rewarding work, not wealth. And ensuring that the super wealthy and corporations pay their fair share and can't cheat every honest American on their tax bills. No one making less than $400,000 will have their taxes raised, period."
White House officials provided reporters the following breakdown of the core spending areas included within the framework:
Child care and universal preschool for all 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds: $400 billion
Affordable, quality home care: $150 billion
Child Tax and Earned Income Tax Credits: $200 billion
Clean energy and climate investments: $555 billion
Affordable Care Act Credits, including in uncovered states: $130 billion
Expanding Medicare to cover the cost of hearing: $35 billion
Affordable housing expansion: $150 billion
Higher education and workforce investments: $40 billion
Equity and other investments: $90 billion
The plan would also provide $100 billion to "improve our immigration system consistent with the Senate's Reconciliation rules." That figure did not appear to be included in the $1.75 trillion topline number provided by the White House.
While the administration did not provide finalized figures from the Congressional Budget Office, officials estimated "that the measures that the president put on the table asking the highest-income Americans [and] large corporations to pay their fair share would generate" $1.995 trillion in savings.
Those offsets would come in the form of "repealing the Trump administration's rebate rule," imposing a 15% minimum tax on "corporate profits that large corporations with over a billion in top profits report for their shareholders," a 1% stock buy back tax, a 15% minimum tax on U.S. corporations' foreign profits, a penalty rate for corporations based in countries that do not comply with Biden's global minimum tax, and a new surtax on the top 0.2% of people that applies a 5% rate on income above $10 million and an additional 3% rate on income above $25 million.
Officials declined to confirm to reporters whether "individual lawmakers," including Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, had agreed to the framework but adamantly claimed the package would pass both chambers of Congress. A number of demands from top liberal lawmakers, such as paid family leave and giving Medicare the ability to negotiate prescription drug prices, did not make it into the final framework of the bill, though officials promised the president would continue to fight for those proposals in future.
The White House did confirm that Biden, during his speech to House Democrats, will call "for each bill to pass when it comes up for a vote because of the stakes of the moment and because of the enormous progress that he's taken to get here."
Officials did say, however, that the president would defer to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the "sequencing" of "specific dates for votes."
The president reportedly pressed Democrats to put aside their legislative differences and support both packages during his Thursday meeting on Capitol Hill.
"I need you to help me. I need your votes," Biden posed to Democrats, a source in the room told the Washington Examiner. "I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the House and Senate majorities and my presidency will be determined by what happens in the next week."
A number of Democratic lawmakers, including Sanders and Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal, suggested Thursday morning that the framework alone was not enough and reiterated they would prefer to delay a vote on the bipartisan physical infrastructure package until legislative text of the budget reconciliation package is submitted.
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Original Author: Christian Datoc