Biden's $2T Plan is closer to a deal; Harris is confident

The deal was within reach. President Joe Biden, Congress' top Democrats, came close to sealing their massive domestic legislation. However, the informal deadline seemed to slip as they tried to reduce the measure and figure out how to pay it.

Biden's $2T Plan is closer to a deal; Harris is confident

Negotiations were expected continue through the weekend with all parties indicating that only a few issues remain unresolved in the comprehensive package of climate change and social services strategies.

Biden met with Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, at the White House, Friday. Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader, joined him via video from New York to discuss details. They have been working together with progressives and party moderates to reduce the 10-year, once-$3.5 trillion package to about $2 trillion in child and health care, and clean energy programs.

Pelosi stated that a deal was possible.

Back at the Capitol, she told reporters that more than 90% had been agreed to. The bill's climate change components were "resolved." However, there are still questions about the health care provisions.

Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States, seemed even more confident. She said that tensions can rise over details, but she was confident and open-minded during a New York City visit.

Friday's deadline, which was set by Biden to reach an agreement on at least a basic outline, was missed. Biden is looking for a deal before Biden leaves next week to attend global summits in Europe.

Pelosi had hoped that the House would begin voting as soon next week as possible, but there was no set schedule.

Proposed corporate tax increases to finance the plan, and an attempt to lower prescription drug prices to reduce costs have been identified as sticking points. This has been criticized by the pharmaceutical industry. Democrats seek to find a compromise between moderates and progressives in the party on the price, revenue sources, and basic components of the measure.

Jen Psaki, press secretary at the White House, stated that the president "has rolled up his sleeves" and is "deep in the details of spreadsheets numbers."

Biden planned to spend the weekend at Wilmington, Delaware.

Psaki likened the work to starting Social Security and other federal programs decades ago, then building upon them over the years.

"Progress here, is a historic package which will put in place programs and systems that have never existed before in our society," she stated. She also noted the efforts to expand child care and offer free prekindergarten for all children.

Negotiations are progressing as Biden appeals more forcefully to the American public in a televised forum for the middle-class values that are at the core of his proposal.

Biden cannot afford to lose one vote in a Senate that is equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. Biden is trying to navigate his party's factions: progressives who want large investments in social services and centrists who would prefer to see the overall cost go down.

"When you are president of the United States, there are 50 Democrats. Every one is a president. Each and every one. He said that you have to work things out during a CNN townhall Thursday.

He expressed optimism and continued to believe in the process. It's all about compromise. He said that compromise has become a dirty word but that bipartisanship and compromise are still possible.

One issue, the taxes that will pay for the package, the White House seemed to be moving forward with a new strategy. Instead of reversing Trump's tax cuts, the White House would instead propose a 15% minimum corporate tax and a tax on billionaire investment incomes to finance the deal.

Biden was met with resistance by key supporters, including Sen. Kyrsten Silena (D-Ariz.), who is not onboard with her party’s plan to repeal President Donald Trump’s tax breaks for large corporations and individuals making more than $400,000 per year.

Thursday night was unusually open with the president about the sticking points in negotiations with Sinema, and another Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia.

Although Sinema said that the president opposed raising "one penny" in taxes on corporations or the wealthy, a White House official clarified later that the president was talking about raising the top tax rates and not the range of tax proposals which "Sen. Sinema supports."

This could be a key part of a deal. With a better understanding about the revenue available, Democrats can develop a topline amount for spending on the package and adjust the durations and amounts for different programs accordingly.

Biden stated that Manchin does not want to rush the transition to clean energies so it will cause major job losses in his state of coal-producing.

Biden admitted that he had made major changes to his original vision.

Although he acknowledged that the final plan would not provide community college for free, he said that a higher number of Pell Grants was possible to make up the difference.

He stated that the federally-paid, long-term family leave program had been reduced to just four weeks from what was originally planned.

A second work in progress is Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent. He has made it a priority to expand Medicare to include hearing, vision, and dental benefits for seniors.

Biden stated that he liked the idea. However, Sinema and Manchin objected to the proposal, so the proposal was "a reach."

He said that Democrats are instead considering giving seniors a $800 voucher to get dental care and another program for hearing aids, which Sinema might support. Biden stated that the vision care issue is more difficult to solve and there isn't a consensus.

Biden and his party seek to strengthen middle-class households, combat climate change, and make sure that the richest Americans and corporations contribute what he calls "fair share" to the country.

There are approximately $500 billion in clean-energy tax credits and other climate change efforts, as well as $350 billion for child support and free prekindergarten. The extension of the $300 per month child tax credit, which was established during the COVID-19 crises, and money to pay for health care through the Affordable Care Act.

However, the newly proposed tax provisions have upset Democrats who have long campaigned to scrap Republican-backed tax cuts. Many believe these tax cuts unduly reward wealthy people and cost the government huge amounts in lost revenue during a time of growing income inequality. It is a shame that a single senator could hinder this goal.

The 21% corporate rate and the 39.6% top individual rate for those earning $400,000 (or $450,000 for couples) would not be affected by the proposed changes.

The White House has revived the idea of a corporate minimal tax rate, which would apply to companies even if they claim they have no taxable income. This is Biden's frequent target, who complains that they pay "zero" taxes.

The Senate Finance Committee chairman, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), would model the new tax on the richest individuals on legislation. He proposed taxing stock gains for people who have more than $1B in assets -- less than 1000 Americans.

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