- The Washington Times - Monday, March 22, 2021

White House staffers are prepping new spending plans with a price tag of up to $3 trillion to present to President Biden as Mr. Biden prepares his next major legislative push, according to multiple reports on Monday.

The White House said talks are still ongoing and that Mr. Biden does not plan to lay out additional details publicly this week.

The package under consideration could involve two parts: the first, an infrastructure and climate change proposal and the second, a suite of domestic items Mr. Biden campaigned on that includes universal pre-K and free community college.

The White House has long said that Mr. Biden planned to push a more far-reaching “Build Back Better” economic proposal after Congress passed his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Mr. Biden is weighing different options and that he’s interested in ideas he touted on the campaign trail like infrastructure and caregiving.

“He is considering a range of options, scopes and sizes of plans and will discuss with his policy team in days ahead, but speculation is premature, given @POTUS does not plan to lay out additional details this week,” Ms. Psaki tweeted.

The infrastructure portion would spend heavily on clean energy and other “high-growth industries of the future” like 5G telecommunications, while the second plan under consideration would put money into education, a national paid leave program, and efforts to reduce child care costs, according to the New York Times, which first reported on the emerging framework.

The still-evolving package will need buy-in from Democrats — and potentially Republicans — on Capitol Hill.

“We’ll talk about how much money should be involved, but we should certainly pivot to infrastructure as soon as possible,” said Sen. Raphael Warnock, Georgia Democrat.

The White House has signaled that Mr. Biden plans to put forth new plans to increase taxes on households earning more than $400,000 per year, which could partially offset some of the costs of the new spending.

Ms. Psaki said Mr. Biden wants to make sure the tax code “rewards work and not wealth.”

On the 2020 campaign trail, Mr. Biden had suggested increasing the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, hiking the top individual tax rate from 37% to 39.6%, and increasing capital gains taxes on people earning more than $1 million per year.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans are not going to be on board with major tax increases.

“We’re hearing the next few months might bring a so-called infrastructure proposal that may actually be a Trojan horse for massive tax hikes and other job-killing left-wing policies,” Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said Monday on the Senate floor.

Without Republican buy-in, congressional Democrats would have to leverage a fast-track budget tool they used to muscle through Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion package without GOP support.

Mr. Biden will also have to deal with advocates on the left who want him to go bigger and who say too many liberal priorities, like an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, were left out of the $1.9 trillion law.

Truly combating climate change will require at least $1 trillion in annual spending over the next decade, said Ellen Sciales, a spokeswoman for the Sunrise Movement, a climate change activist group.

“If $3 trillion is what Biden’s team lands on, they’ll be neglecting what’s politically and publicly popular, and what’s quite frankly vital for the future of our society and our planet,” she said.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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