President Biden on Wednesday issued a forceful defense of his plans to increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy in order to fund his $4 trillion-plus economic agenda, saying he’s open to compromise on corporate taxes but that he’s not going to add to a sea of red ink.
“I’m open to compromising, yes — it doesn’t have to be exactly what I say,” Mr. Biden told reporters at the White House. “But I’m not willing to not pay for what we’re talking about. I’m not willing to deficit spend.”
He said he’s spoken to CEOs about his new proposal to increase the corporate tax rate from its current 21% level and pointed out that the Obama administration had floated a 28% rate.
Mr. Biden criticized the 2017 tax law, which cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and slashed individual rates across the board, saying it didn’t have its intended effects.
“Show me where the growth is,” he said.
He said reraising the top individual income tax rate from 37% to 39.6% would generate enough revenue to cover two free years of community college for all Americans, which he included in his $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan.”
“It’s about growth,” he said.
Mr. Biden spoke after the Penn Wharton Budget Model released a projection earlier in the day estimating that his “families” plan would cost $700 billion more than what the White House estimated and that it would curb growth and add to the debt long-term.
The White House dismissed the study, instead touting a report from Moody’s Analytics that estimated the plan would grow the labor force.
Mr. Biden spoke to reporters after highlighting a new $28.6 billion fund for restaurants that was part of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
The “Restaurant Revitalization Fund” started accepting applications Monday and more than 186,000 restaurants and eligible entities have already applied.
The program doles out grants of up to $10 million per business based on revenue losses during the pandemic.
For the first 21 days of the program, the Small Business Administration is prioritizing applications from small businesses “owned and controlled by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals,” according to the White House.
Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Biden visited Las Gemelas, a Mexican restaurant in northeast Washington, D.C., that benefited from pilot restaurant relief funding. The restaurant had to slash its workforce from 55 employees to seven before rebounding.
“For one in three Americans, a restaurant provided their first job,” Mr. Biden said.
The restaurant industry was among the hardest-hit by the pandemic and coronavirus-related lockdowns.
Restauranteurs will undoubtedly welcome the assistance, but some have complained that the supercharged federal unemployment benefits and direct payments in the relief package are making it harder to convince people to come back to work.