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Tag: american families plan

Voters Overwhelmingly Support Biden Infrastructure Plan As GOP Plots Obstruction

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A day after Senate Republicans blocked debate on a bipartisan infrastructure deal, a new poll shows about two-thirds of American voters back the framework.

On Thursday, Navigator Research released a survey of 1,000 registered voters, finding 66 percent supported the plan — agreed upon in June by President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of senators — which would invest $579 billion in transportation, broadband, and water system infrastructure. That framework was backed by 86 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents, and a 46 percent plurality of Republicans.

Although 11 Republican senators agreed on the outlines of a deal in June, every single one of them — and the entire GOP caucus — voted on Wednesday to filibuster a motion to start debate on the bill. Because the motion required a three-fifths supermajority vote, the Democratic majority was stymied in its attempt to even take the plan up for consideration. Attempts to salvage an agreement are ongoing.

So far, Republicans have been unable to reach an agreement on how to pay for the plan. A key funding source in their original framework — expanding Internal Revenue Service enforcement to crack down on rich tax dodgers who underpay what they owe — had to be abandoned due to pushback from GOP senators who did not want to give more money to the understaffed agency.

But the Navigator poll showed that this approach is also quite popular.

Asked if they "support or oppose increasing funding for the IRS by $80 billion to crack down on wealthy tax cheats" — an increase that is double the $40 billion in the original bipartisan agreement — 61 percent of respondents said they supported the idea. Just 25 percent were opposed. Democrats backed it 80 percent --8 percent, and independents supported it 55 percent --26 percent. Republicans were almost evenly split, 42 percent for, 44 percent against.

When told that such an investment "could bring in up to $700 billion in tax revenue over the next decade," support increased to 66 percent --21 percent overall — with 85 percent --7 percent among Democrats, and 60 percent -- 20 percent among independents. Even a plurality of Republicans backed the idea, 46 percent -- 36 percent.

Democratic lawmakers and the president are pushing to fund some of the policies that were forced out of the bipartisan infrastructure plan through separate legislation.

Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan — passed in March without a single Republican vote — already contained a major 2021 expansion of the child tax credit. Thanks to those provisions, 92 percent of families with children will receive some savings. For millions of families, it also meant monthly payments, beginning on July 15.

Biden proposed an extension in his American Families Plan — much of which is expected to be included in a Democratic "human infrastructure" bill. But with unanimous GOP opposition, it would likely have to be passed through the budget reconciliation process, or by simple majority, without any GOP votes.

The poll found the child tax credit is supported by 56 percent of voters and opposed by 30 percent.

When told that "more than 90 percent of U.S. households with children are eligible" to receive the credit, overall support climbed to 63 percent to 28 percent. That included 82 percent -- 13 percent Democratic support and 61 percent -- 26 percent independent support. Republicans barely opposed it, 44 percent -- 45 percent.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Republicans Oppose More IRS Audits Of Super-Rich Tax Evaders

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A provision in the bipartisan Senate infrastructure bill announced on June 24 would provide for investing more money in enforcement of laws targeting top earners who evade payment of taxes. Republican senators are furious.

Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the third-ranking member of the minority party leadership, told Axios on Wednesday that "spending $40 billion to super-size the IRS is very concerning." "Law-abiding Americans deserve better from their government than an army of bureaucrats snooping through their bank statements," he said.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn warned of "a huge potential for abuse": "Bigger government results in more waste, fraud, and abuse."

"Throwing billions more taxpayer dollars at the IRS will only hurt Americans struggling to recover after waves of devastating lockdowns," said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. "Instead of increasing funding for the IRS, we should abolish the damn place."

Even South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who backed the bipartisan framework, complained, "There's some people on our side who don't like empowering the IRS; I don't mind empowering the IRS if it's a reasonable thing to do. But I mean, how much uncollected taxes can you gather with $40 billion?"

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley tweeted on May 17, this year's Tax Day, "Im all for catching tax cheats +closing tax gap BUT Biden plan 2pump more $ into IRS & expand bank reporting is ripe for overreach + imposes more burdens on small biz/family farms."

Earlier in the year, Biden introduced the American Jobs Plan, a $2.25 trillion transportation, climate, water, broadband, child care, and caregiving infrastructure package, and the American Families Plan, a $1.8 trillion package investment in paid leave, free preschool and community college, and affordable health care. He proposed funding the plans by raising tax rates on corporations and those earning $400,000 or more and by spending $80 million more to enforce existing tax laws.

Republicans unanimously opposed the plans, drawing what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called a "red line" against any tax increases for wealthy Americans or businesses.

Instead, a group of 10 Republican and Democratic senators agreed on a plan to boost enforcement by half of Biden's initial request to help fund $567 billion in new transportation, broadband, and water system infrastructure spending. They proposed that the rest of the funding would come from sources that would include petroleum sales, wireless spectrum auctions, and unused 2020 relief funds.

The White House says $40 billion in spending to improve tax law enforcement would more than pay for itself, bringing in $140 billion. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says it would bring in $103 billion over a decade. All of this is money already owed to the government under existing tax law.

"There's just a ton of money out there that we're not collecting," former IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti told the Washington Post on Friday. "Why don't we collect some of that before we raise taxes on the people that are already paying?"

In recent years, the IRS has had to cut back on enforcing the law due to massive budget reductions. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, between 2010 and 2018, the budget for enforcement dropped 24%, the number of enforcement personnel drop 31%, and the audit rate for millionaires dropped 61%.

"The steep decline in audits for high-income individuals stemming from IRS underfunding means that low- and moderate-income households claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are now audited at roughly the same rate as the top 1 percent of filers," Chye-Ching Huang — then the senior director of economic policy with the Center — told the House Ways and Means Committee in February 2020.

An April report by the Center for American Progress noted that while recent official estimates suggest the United States loses about $600 billion a year in unpaid revenue "on April 13, 2021, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig told Congress that he believes the United States is losing much more revenue—possibly $1 trillion or more every year."

Seth Hanlon, one of the report's authors, told The American Independent Foundation in May that smarter IRS enforcement would mean more compliance for the richest Americans — but fewer audits for everyone else.

"The whole point is it will let the IRS target audits in a smarter way, so honest people are gonna be less likely to be audited. People earning under $400,000 — as long as they're tax compliant — are gonna be less likely to be audited. The audit rate for those earning under $400,000 won't go up," he said.

Polling show strong popular support for making sure richer Americans pay their fair share. An April Monmouth University poll found 65% support for funding Biden's spending proposals with increased revenue from those making more than $400,000, compared to 33% opposition.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Poll: Big Majority Supports Biden Spending Plans, Bipartisan Or Not

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

More than three-fifths of likely voters want Congress to pass President Joe Biden's spending plans, even if the Democratic majority has to do so without a single Republican vote, according to a new poll.

The survey, conducted by Data for Progress for Invest in America, which campaigns for public investment in infrastructure, was released Tuesday. It found 62 percent support for passage of Biden's American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan through the budget reconciliation process, which allows the Senate to pass taxation and spending bills by a simple majority vote.

Such a move is backed by 86 percent of Democratic voters, 59 percent of independents, and 36 percent of Republicans.

"Our polling w/ @DataProgress shows voters don't care about process, they care about results," tweeted Invest in America. "The bipartisan deal is a solid first step — but a majority of voters still support passing the rest of the American Jobs and Families Plans through reconciliation."

Congressional Republicans have tried to block a reconciliation package, objecting to the "partisan" process and saying it amounted to "caving" to the "left-wing base."

Biden proposed the American Jobs Plan in March, recommending a $2.25 trillion investment in bridges, roads, water systems, transit, clean energy, broadband, climate, child care, and caregiving infrastructure. In April, he proposed the American Families Plan, which would invest $1.8 trillion in paid leave, free preschool and community college, and affordable health care.

Not a single Republican in Congress backed either proposal, despite the wide popularity of both with the American public.

Biden and bipartisan group of senators struck a deal on June 24 on $579 billion in new spending on transportation, water, and broadband infrastructure.

Democratic leaders made it clear that in order to pass that agreement, Congress would also have to pass a separate package containing funding for climate and human infrastructure that was removed from the bill during negotiations.

But when Biden suggested that both bills would be necessary, Republicans claimed to be outraged.

"The two top Democrats literally pulled the rug out from under their bipartisan negotiators with these unserious demands before they'd even made it to the White House," complained Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "An expression of bipartisanship, and then an ultimatum on behalf of your left-wing base."

Biden clarified on June 26 that he was not threatening to veto the bipartisan infrastructure plan, but hoped to see both it and the rest of the funding pass in tandem.

Now McConnell (R-KY) is trying to pressure Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi into skipping Biden's other priorities, suggesting that insisting on passing them together with the infrastructure bill amounted to holding the latter "hostage over a separate and partisan process."

"Unless Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi walk-back their threats that they will refuse to send the president a bipartisan infrastructure bill unless they also separately pass trillions of dollars for unrelated tax hikes, wasteful spending, and Green New Deal socialism, then President Biden's walk-back of his veto threat would be a hollow gesture," McConnell said Monday.

But McConnell has not even backed the bipartisan infrastructure deal and was not involved in the negotiations. Negotiations he did back, between Biden and a GOP group led by West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, broke down in early June after the Republicans refused to offer more than a small fraction of the new infrastructure spending the White House requested.

While McConnell and his colleagues have attacked Biden's proposed investments as unneeded socialism, the Data for Progress poll suggests those arguments are not working: 58 percent of those surveyed said the nation should invest more "to spur job creation and boost the economy after the coronavirus pandemic," while just 33 percent said it should wait "over concerns about the economy overheating and inflation."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Republican Senate Negotiator Now Ready To 'Move Forward' On Infrastructure Bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A lead Republican negotiator on an infrastructure deal on Sunday welcomed President Joe Biden's withdrawal of his threat to veto a $1.2 trillion bipartisan bill unless a separate Democratic spending plan also passes Congress. Ohio Senator Rob Portman said he and his fellow negotiators were "blindsided" by Biden's comments on Thursday after he and senators announced a rare bipartisan compromise on a measure to fix the nation's roads, bridges and ports. "I was very glad to see the president clarify his remarks because it was inconsistent with everything that we had been told al...

Senate Republicans Whining Over Biden’s ‘Two-Track’ Infrastructure Plan

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Senate Republicans are upset that President Joe Biden plans to enact other spending legislation after striking a deal with them on infrastructure.

The infrastructure deal calls for about $579 billion in new spending on transportation, water systems, power, and broadband infrastructure. It does not include most of the climate change, child care, and caregiving funding — described as "human infrastructure" — that Biden requested in his original $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan.

Democrats plan to enact some of these priorities separately — as well as the health care, paid leave, and educational investments from Biden's American Families Plan— through the budget reconciliation process, without any GOP support.

Biden, who ran on campaign promises to enact such legislation, said Thursday he plans to sign the packages together. While most bills — including the bipartisan infrastructure deal — require a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate, a loophole allows passage of some taxation and spending legislation to pass with a simple majority.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lamented soon after that Biden was "caving completely" to the "left-wing base" by doing both.

"Less than two hours after publicly commending our colleagues and endorsing the bipartisan agreement, the president took the extraordinary step of threatening to veto it," McConnell (R-KY) complained, referencing Biden's statement that he would not sign one bill without the other. "It was a tale of two press conferences — endorse the agreement in one breath and threaten to veto it in the next."

McConnell was not part of the bipartisan negotiations or the infrastructure deal that was eventually struck. His endorsed GOP negotiating team — led by West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito — was unable to reach an agreement previously after they offered only a fraction of the new spending Biden had requested.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) had similar complaints. "Democrat [sic] leaders, including the president, have undermined their own negotiators and the Republicans who've been negotiating in good faith," he tweeted. "They're holding bipartisanship hostage for partisanship."

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) suggested that the deal was really "no deal" because Biden also planned to enact a reconciliation package. And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Politico he would oppose the infrastructure plan because Biden's decision to push other legislation separately somehow amounted to extortion.

"The Dems are being told you can't get your bipartisan work product passed unless you sign on to what the left wants, and I'm not playing that game," he said.

Biden, meanwhile, has been clear throughout the process that the infrastructure package is not his only priority and that this deal did not preclude a reconciliation package.

In initial remarks after meeting with the bipartisan group on Thursday morning, Biden told reporters "there is going to be a two-track system" for the two spending plans.

In an afternoon press conference, he noted that this had always been the plan.

"The bipartisan bill, from the very beginning, was understood there was going to have to be the second part of it," he said. "I'm not just signing the bipartisan bill and forgetting about the rest that I proposed. I proposed a significant piece of legislation in three parts. And all three parts are equally important."

"The question is: How much can we get done? And the bottom line is: When all is said and done, does what you agree to preclude, forever, you getting the things you really want?" he added. "Well, I'm not for that. I'm not going to vote for one of those deals."

As long as Democrats stay united, the GOP will have little power to stop those plans.

Democratic senators from across the political spectrum have indicated that they are on board with passing a major "human infrastructure" bill through the reconciliation process.

"I've come to the knowledge, basically, that budget reconciliation is for reconciling budgets. So it's money matters," West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a staunch holdout on many of Biden's more progressive-leaning policies, told NBC News, while endorsing such a package.

"I think we can, we can make that happen. It's going to be either both or nothing," Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders told reporters, noting that the reconciliation package must address "the needs of working families, climate change and progressive tax reform."

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) concurred. "Ultimately there's two tracks, and both trains have to arrive at the station at the same time," he said, according to NBC News.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Biden Reiterates Support For 'Two-Track' Infrastructure Deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Joe Biden spoke with Arizona Democratic Senator Krysten Sinema on the bipartisan infrastructure agreement, the White House said Friday, and reiterated his support for a "two-track" legislation process that includes a second reconciliation bill. "The President reiterated strong support for both the bipartisan Infrastructure bill and a reconciliation bill containing the American Families Plan moving forward on a two-track system, as he said yesterday when meeting the press with the bipartisan group of ten Senators," the White House said in a statement. After House of...

Infrastructure Deal Hinges On Additional Climate And Social Spending

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

UPDATE: President Joe Biden hosted the bipartisan Senate group at the White House to confirm the infrastructure deal on Thursday afternoon. "Neither side got everything they wanted in this deal," Biden said. "That's what it means to compromise, and it reflects something important, reflects consensus. The heart of democracy requires consensus." He also said the deal is "in tandem" with an additional bill funding clean energy and human infrastructure programs, to be passed solely by Democrats under budget reconciliation rules -- and that he won't sign one without the other.

A bipartisan group of 10 senators said it had reached a tentative deal with the White House on an infrastructure plan. But while their verbal agreement includes hundreds of billions of dollars in new investment in transportation and water infrastructure, several Democrats are saying they will only support it if it is paired with investments in omitted infrastructure priorities such as climate and caregiving.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) announced on Wednesday, "Republicans and Democrats have come together, along with the White House, and we've agreed on a framework and we're gonna be heading to the White House tomorrow."

"We have a framework and we are going to the White House tomorrow," said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

The group also includes Republicans Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Rob Portman (OH), as well as Democrats Joe Manchin (WV), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Jon Tester (MT), and Mark Warner (VA).

In a statement released by the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki said, "White House senior staff had two productive meetings today with the bipartisan group of Senators who have been negotiating about infrastructure. The group made progress towards an outline of a potential agreement, and the President has invited the group to come to the White House tomorrow to discuss this in person."

According to Axios, the plan would call for either $974 billion in infrastructure spending over the next five years or $1.2 trillion over the next eight. About $559 billion of that would be new spending, $20 billion less than was included in the group's earlier proposal.

The senators have not yet announced how it would be funded but claim it is fully paid for.

In March, Biden proposed the $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan, which would significantly boost investment in roads, bridges, water systems, clean energy, broadband, transit, climate, child care, and caregiving infrastructure. Congressional Republicans unanimously opposed the plan, with many complaining that only roads and bridges really count as infrastructure.

The bipartisan group's plan omits virtually all funding for clean energy, climate, child care, and caregiving infrastructure.

The package would require a three-fifths supermajority in the Senate and a majority in the House. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) suggested on Thursday evening that most Democrats have not yet signed off on the plan. "My sense is that deal right now has 20 votes, not 60 votes. We are going to have to take a deep dive into the agreement they have reached, and, you know, square it with the needs of our voters," he told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

Several of his colleagues have objected to the lack of clean energy and climate investment in the proposal and have said they will only agree to back it if enough Democrats agree to address caregiving and the environment in a separate package that could be passed through budget reconciliation without any GOP support.

Such a deal would likely also include investments in health care, paid leave, child care, pre-K programs, and other priorities included in Biden's original $1.9 trillion American Families Plan.

"We have made our position clear, that the possibility of a bipartisan deal depends on a commitment to move forward on reconciliation," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) told Politico on Tuesday.

"One can't be done without the other," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters on Wednesday. "We can't get the bipartisan bill done unless we're sure of getting the budget reconciliation bill done. We can't get the budget reconciliation bill done unless we're sure to get the bipartisan — and I think our members, across the spectrum, realize that."

"No climate, no deal," vowed Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) on June 9.

The need for investment in both transportation and climate infrastructure was illustrated this week by major news stories across the country.

In Washington, D.C., a pedestrian bridge collapsed on Wednesday onto an interstate highway. Several people were injured.

On the West Coast, climate change has fueled massive heatwaves and drought.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Poll: Voters Strongly Support Biden’s Families Plan

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

President Joe Biden has barely begun to roll out his American Families Plan, and it's already proving to be pretty popular, according to fresh polling from Politico/Morning Consult.

At base level, 58 percent say they either strongly or somewhat support the $1.8 trillion investment to improve the nation's child care, education, and paid leave programs. That support includes 86 percent of Democrats, 54 percent of independents, and 25 percent of Republicans.

But some of the individual components of the plan are more popular than the proposal as a whole.

  • Ensuring low- to middle-income families pay no more than seven percent of income on child care: 64 percent support, 22 percent oppose
  • Free preschool for all 3 to 4 year olds: 63 percent support, 26 percent oppose
  • Two free years of community college: 59 percent support, 31 percent oppose
  • $15/hour minimum wage for child care workers: 59 percent support, 31 percent oppose
  • Extending expanded child care tax credit: 57 percent support, 26 percent oppose
  • Two years of subsidized tuition at HBCUs: 56 percent support, 31 percent oppose

At least 10-18 percent of respondents were undecided on every one of those initiatives, so there's presumably room to grow support for them as the White House puts more time and energy into selling the package.

The two most popular items—a seven percent of income cap on child care expenses and universal preschool—also garnered solid GOP support, with 45 percent of Republicans backing the income cap and 42 percent supporting universal preschool. The popularity of individual initiatives may prove important if Democrats decide to fold certain pieces of Biden's jobs and families proposals into one package.

That's a solid start on an initiative that President Biden has only begun to explain to the public. It's also generally in keeping with the popularity of Biden's other trillion-dollar initiatives addressing the pandemic and jobs/infrastructure, though Biden's $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package typically polled in the 40s/50s with Republican voters.