White House says reports it is considering $3 trillion infrastructure push are premature




  • In Politics
  • 2021-03-22 19:01:13Z
  • By Reuters
 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Monday that reports that President Joe Biden will consider spending $3 trillion for infrastructure and other priorities are premature and do not reflect administration thinking.

The New York Times reported that Biden advisers were preparing to recommend he spend as much as $3 trillion on boosting the economy, reducing carbon emissions and narrowing economic inequality, beginning with a giant infrastructure plan.

The Washington Post and CNN reported that a $3 trillion effort was expected to be broken into two parts, one focused on infrastructure, and the other devoted to other domestic priorities, such as universal prekindergarten, national childcare and free community college tuition.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, speaking to reporters, declined to confirm the reports, but said Biden would be briefed this week by his economic advisers on "the size and scope" of the proposals.

In a separate statement, Psaki said Biden and his team were considering "a range of potential options for how to invest in working families and reform our tax code so it rewards work, not wealth."

"Those conversations are ongoing, so any speculation about future economic proposals is premature and not a reflection of the White House's thinking," the statement added.

Biden has ambitious plans for new legislative action including infrastructure and tackling climate change. But many questions remain about how to structure and pay for it, and what Republicans in Congress might vote for.

Biden used the Democrats' slender majority in the U.S. Senate to push through a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill earlier this month through a special process called reconciliation.

Democrats see infrastructure as one area where they might be able to attract support from Republicans because of the need to rebuild roads, bridges and airports across the country, but Republicans are already expressing skepticism.

"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,"

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor on Monday.

Congress never voted on an infrastructure plan unveiled by the Trump administration in 2018 that proposed spending $200 billion over 10 years to spur $1.5 trillion in largely private-sector infrastructure spending.

House Republicans voted last week to lift a ban on earmarks, or funding for local projects that can serve as legislative "sweeteners," a potential boost to any Biden bill.

The Times said administration officials have considered financing the plan by reducing federal spending by as much as $700 billion over a decade, and raising the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6 percent from 37 percent.

Biden has pledged not to raise taxes on individuals making less than $400,000 a year.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Heather Timmons and Peter Cooney)

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