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White House Eyes Funding Free Community College With Tax Increase on the Rich

The White House is discussing tax increases for corporations and the wealthy to fund a $3 trillion infrastructure bill.

President Joe Biden exits Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on March 17, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

President Joe Biden is considering tax increases for corporations, investors and wealthy Americans in order to pay for an upcoming infrastructure, education and jobs bill.

People familiar with conversations in the White House told The Washington Post that the centerpiece of the tax increases would be a rise in corporate taxes from 21 to 28 percent. This partially reverses former President Donald Trump’s corporate tax cuts from 2017 but does not restore them to their previous threshold of 35 percent. The tax on businesses will fund the first part of the plan, the infrastructure improvements and investments

Tax increases on wealthy individuals and investors will fund the other part of the bill, labeled the “caring economy” by the White House, according to The Washington Post. These measures could include increasing the highest income tax rate from 37 to 39.6 percent, limiting deductions that wealthy taxpayers can claim and increasing taxes on wealthy investors.

The bill, which is estimated to cost around $3 trillion, has not yet been released. The infrastructure part of the bill will include improvements to roads, bridges and rails, as well as between $400 and $500 billion for climate-focused initiatives, such as electrifying public transit and installing more electric vehicle charging stations.

The “caring economy” part of the bill will include money for child care and education. It includes free community college and universal prekindergarten, which are priorities for Biden. It would increase spending on child care and extend the expanded child tax credit included in the stimulus that was just passed beyond this year to even possibly make it permanent.

The Biden administration has also recently proposed the first major tax increases in 30 years for corporations and the wealthy. Among other proposals, these increases include a higher estate tax, higher income taxes for those making more than $400,000 a year and a capital gains tax for those making more than $1 million.

The U.S., as politicians from all ends of the political spectrum have noted, is in dire need of infrastructure investments. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) continually rates the U.S.’s infrastructure poorly on their report card released every four years, and in 2021 has given the U.S. an overall rating of C-. Just for physical infrastructure, the ASCE estimates that the U.S. will have to invest $5.9 trillion over the next eight years to meet current and future needs.

Though many aspects of the infrastructure plan, including the provisions to pay for it, will likely face opposition from Republicans, many note that the plan is still too small and not ambitious enough. “Even [Sen.] Joe Manchin, who’s fighting for $4 trillion, knows that $3 trillion is not enough for infrastructure,” wrote the Sunrise Movement on Twitter. “This is unacceptable. Your proposal needs to include at least $10 trillion on infrastructure if you want [to] meet the scale of this moment.”

The Sunrise Movement has recently called for a $10 trillion plan called the Good Jobs for All Pledge that would kick-start a Green New Deal. The Good Jobs for All Pledge signatories like Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts) promise to push legislation to “create at least 15 million good jobs sustained over the next decade in clean energy, transportation, housing, the care economy, public services, and regenerative agriculture, with the goal of ultimately guaranteeing full employment.”

This is similar in scope to Biden’s plan in terms of infrastructure improvements and clean energy investments, but is much more ambitious and far-reaching in its goals to support the PRO Act, support Indigenous sovereignty and notably, eventually establish a jobs guarantee.

“The Biden team’s infrastructure proposal signals what the climate justice movement has been saying for decades: to stop climate change, we need to scale up public investments to create millions of good jobs, build up our renewable infrastructure, and take care of our communities,” Sunrise Movement Press Secretary Ellen Sciales told Common Dreams. But “$3 trillion is simply not enough to create jobs in the national interest, combat the climate crisis, and support working people.”

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