Manchin-- whose wife is getting appointed to a regional development sinecure-- is all gung-ho going big on the infrastructure bill, including paying for it by increasing taxes. He's the chair of the Senate's key Energy and Natural Resources Committee. So he gets a big say, over and above his always-ready-veto potential. Problem though is that Manchin's idea of taxes is a tiny increase in corporate taxes-- from Trump's 21% to just 25%-- mixed with a VAT (or sales tax) that will overly burden the working class and middle class, something Biden and the Democratic Party have no intention of doing. Funny though, the media talks about the tax situation for the infrastructure bill not as a problem for Biden with Manchin, but as a problem for Biden with... Bernie.
Yesterday, The Hill reported the Bernie's approach is too aggressive towards corporations and the super-rich. "New proposals from Sanders," wrote Niv Elis, "go well beyond the revenue-raising measures Biden proposed in his campaign, which already would not completely pay for the $3 trillion package he is reportedly considering to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. In one piece of legislation unveiled Thursday, Sanders proposed raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 35 percent, well above the 28 percent level Biden has proposed, and adding stricter measures than Biden proposed for taxing offshore profits. A second bill would put in a more stringent estate tax, lowering the threshold for when an estate would be hit with the tax from $11 million to $3.5 million for single people and from $22 million to $7 million for couples. He’d also raise the tax rate to as much as 65 percent for estates over $1 billion. Biden’s proposal also would tax estates valued at $3.5 million or more, but his estate tax rate is a flat 45 percent. Sanders signaled that Biden and Democrats should be willing to be much bolder in taxing corporations and estates to pay for their priorities. 'We can no longer tolerate many large corporations making billions of dollars in profits to pay nothing in federal income taxes while about half of older Americans have no retirement savings and no idea how they will be able to retire with any shred of dignity or respect,' Sanders said at a Budget Committee hearing on the subject."
Elis starts moaning that Bernie is "pushing Biden to the left" and that "the pressure creates a number of problems for Biden, who is seeking to pass legislation through a Senate with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans." Maybe no one told him that not a single Republican is going to vote for any of this unless Biden has photos of him (or her, I guess) in bed with a 16 year old boy... a distinct possibility with Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell... maybe Marco Rubio from the old days, although everyone tells me he's "straight" now.
Republicans and budget hawks [who never uttered a single word when Trump was creating a the biggest deficit in history and one that was geared at making the rich richer and the poor poorer] increasingly are raising concerns about rising red ink, which could make it difficult to win any bipartisan deal. With the passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan this month, the deficit is on track to surpass the $3 trillion record it set last year and push the country’s debt burden to its highest point in history," something that these senators approved under Trump. "Sanders," wrote Elis grudgingly, "has shown that he can be a team player in the right circumstances. He voted for the American Rescue Plan despite his signature $15 minimum wage policy being stripped out, vowing to pursue it further down the line. But his Thursday push makes it clear that if Biden bends too far toward GOP demands, he will get pushback from his party’s own progressive flank. That could pose a problem for Biden in the House as well, where Democrats hold a razor-thin margin. Earlier this month, Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) signed on to Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) wealth tax proposal, another approach Biden has rejected. Sanders also made it clear that he sees the issue not so much as a matter of paying for favored policies, but in creating a more equitable society. 'Despite what some of my Republican colleagues may claim, the reality is that when you take into account federal income taxes, payroll taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes and property taxes, we have, as a nation, an extremely unfair tax system that allows billionaires to pay a lower effective tax rate than public school teachers, truck drivers and nurses,' he said. 'That has got to change.'" Sounds like the Republican colleagues he's talking to are Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema Jon Tester, and the pairs of conservative Democrats from Delaware, New Hampshire and Virginia.
Politico's Burgess Everett, using all GOP talking points and typically negative Politico phraseology slanted towards the status quo [which I fixed for him below], got a little more specific about what exactly Bernie is looking for-- namely sweeping changes to Medicare and prescription drug policy. He wants to allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies and use the saved revenue ($450 billion over 10 years) to pay for a huge expansion to the beloved program. Bernie is aiming to lower Medicare's eligibility age from 65 to 55 or 60 years old and expand the program to cover dental work, glasses and eye surgeries as well as hearing aids. Biden promised to lower it to 60 during the campaign, but it isn't something he ever talks about now.
Bernie: "We’re talking about physical infrastructure, affordable housing. We’re talking about transforming our energy system to deal with climate change. We’re talking about human infrastructure. In the rescue plan, we were able to take a major step forward in lowering child poverty-- very important. Now I want to deal with issues facing seniors as well."