- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 4, 2021

The White House’s top economic adviser on Sunday defended President Biden’s infrastructure plan, saying there is “a long way to go” before the economy returns to a pre-pandemic place and the plan’s investments would help boost growth.

Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, told “Fox News Sunday” that Mr. Biden’s push to raise the corporate tax rate to generate funds for his $2.25 trillion vision is a reasonable way to find money for the investments.

“This is a responsible way to pay for a significant capital investment, which itself will return multiples in terms of the private investment it will unlock,” Mr. Deese said. “We think it is a reasonable thing to pay for that across time.”

He said “we need to update what we mean by infrastructure for the 21st century.”

“If people have different approaches to that, he is open to doing it,” Mr. Deese said. “The one thing he has been very clear about is he doesn’t believe we should raise taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year, and he doesn’t believe we should fund investments on the backs of working people in the bottom half of the income distribution, many of whom have been hit terribly hard during this COVID crisis.”

Mr. Biden’s proposal, the American Jobs Plan, has a narrow path to passage.

Republicans have signaled they will not support an increase in the corporate tax rate, arguing tax hikes could hurt the economic recovery from the coronavirus, saying the timing couldn’t be worse and would hit workers’ paychecks.

They also have sounded the alarm on the rising national debt.

Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, said Sunday that the nation needs more investment in infrastructure.

Mr. Blunt said Mr. Biden’s vision goes far beyond that, and said the plan should be dialed back to focus on improving the nation’s roads and bridges, which, he said, comprises about 30% of the plan.

“I think it is a big mistake for the administration,” Mr. Blunt said of the package on “Fox News Sunday.” “I also think it is an easy victory if we go back and look at roads and bridges and ports and airports and maybe even underground water systems and broadband.”

As it stands, Mr. Blunt said the proposal is a “partisan package.”

Democrats have little in the way of wiggle room. They have a slim House majority and hold the tie-breaking vote in the 50-50 Senate.

Mr. Deese said the nation needs to start rethinking the way it defines infrastructure, saying it should include investments in childcare facilities, expanding affordable housing and building Veterans Affairs medical facilities.

“That will create more jobs,” he said. “It will create more opportunity for people to get into the workforce. It will expand our economy’s potential.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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