POLITICS

Joe Manchin Demands Changes To Joe Biden's Infrastructure Plan

The West Virginia senator maintains that the corporate tax rate should go up to 25%, rather than 28%, to pay for infrastructure improvements.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he wants to see changes to the way President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan is financed before supporting it.

“If I don’t vote to get on it, it’s not going anywhere,” Manchin told radio host Hoppy Kercheval at West Virginia MetroNews on Monday. “So we’re going to have some leverage here ― it’s more than just me. There are six or seven other Democrats who feel very strongly about this.”

Biden’s plan proposes spending more than $2 trillion to overhaul the nation’s aging infrastructure, including electrifying transit systems, boosting rail and making key investments in home care and housing. It would offset the cost by increasing the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, which is still lower than the 35% rate before the 2017 GOP tax law took effect.

But Manchin maintains that the corporate tax rate should go up to 25%, rather than 28%.

“We have to be competitive and we’re not going to throw caution to the wind,” he told Kercheval, citing the impact of the hike on businesses, including hiring.

Manchin holds outsized influence in the evenly divided Senate, so the White House will almost certainly need to change the bill’s payors in order to win his vote ― especially if other Democrats agree with him.

When asked about his views regarding Biden’s infrastructure plan, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) told reporters on Capitol Hill that he had “expressed some concerns” to the White House but declined to comment further.

Lowering the corporate tax rate in the proposal would create a gap in revenue that would have to be filled some other way. A gas tax and a vehicle miles traveled tax are two options that could help pay for infrastructure spending. Deficit spending is another. 

Last week, Biden rejected the notion that his proposed corporate tax increase would drive companies away from the United States.

“Not at all. ... There’s no evidence of that,” he said at the White House.

Senate Democrats aren’t the only ones demanding tax changes to the president’s infrastructure proposal. In the House of Representatives, a group of moderates is pushing a tax cut for some wealthy households as part of the package by reversing the 2017 tax law’s limitation on household deductions for state and local taxes. Some Democrats have complained that the change disproportionately hurt households in blue states such as California and New York. 

Biden is unlikely to find any GOP buy-in for a multitrillion-dollar spending bill that is financed via tax hikes. He’ll need total Democratic unanimity to get his infrastructure plan through Congress by using the budget reconciliation process.

With Democrats struggling over various components of the plan, the White House is sure to face a tougher challenge on the Hill than it did for its $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package last month.