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Republicans back on board after Biden's infrastructure clean-up

Romney predicted the proposal, which has not been drafted but aims to provide nearly $ 600 billion in new spending on roads, bridges and broadband, would have sufficient support to pass the Senate. It will need at least 60 votes, including at least 10 Republicans. Some of those needed GOP votes wavered on Friday after Biden said if the bipartisan bill “is the only one that comes to me, I’m not signing it.”

“I am glad they have now been de-linked and we can move forward with a bipartisan bill,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the lead GOP negotiator, on ABC’s “This Week.” He said Republicans “were glad to see them disconnected. And now we can move forward.”

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a member of the group, said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that he believed the legislation “will get far more than 60 votes in the end.” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) even predicted that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell could come on board. McConnell criticized Biden’s comments last week as “completely caving” to the party’s left wing and has repeatedly emphasized his commitment to derailing Biden’s progressive agenda.

“If we can pull this off, I think Mitch will favor it. Now he didn’t like the president throwing the wrench in there saying, ‘Listen, the two are tied together,'” Cassidy said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The warm Republican comments on Sunday signal that over the two-week July Fourth recess, negotiators can start drafting legislation that provides the largest investments in physical infrastructure in U.S. history. While there are more opportunities for that effort to be derailed, Biden’s work to reassure Republicans to stay on board and his acknowledgment Saturday that they were “understandably upset” with him seems to be paying off.

At the same time, the larger Democratic spending bill on child care, climate change, Medicare expansion and other progressive priorities is also being shaped by party leaders — and a certain swing vote from Appalachia.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, Democrats’ most elusive vote for that plan in an evenly split Senate, indicated on Sunday that he would join in that work on a bigger, separate “human infrastructure” measure. He also said he would support raising the corporate tax rate to 25 percent and increasing capital gains taxes to 28 percent to help pay for the bill, compromise positions that will nonetheless elate Democrats who want to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

But he brushed back on Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) proposed $ 6 trillion price tag and said he’d like to avoid deficit spending on that proposal. Manchin suggested Sanders’ ambitions could be cut by 75 percent or more in order to earn his vote.

“If they think in reconciliation I’m going to throw caution to the wind and go to $ 5 trillion or $ 6 trillion when we can only afford $ 1 trillion or $ 1.5 trillion or maybe $ 2 trillion and what we can pay for, then I can’t be there,” Manchin said on “This Week.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he wants the Senate to consider the bipartisan infrastructure plan in July, as well as pass a budget resolution setting up the separate, partisan bill. Set for advancement using the procedural protections of budget reconciliation, that second bill needs lockstep Democratic support in the Senate but can avoid a GOP filibuster.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said her chamber won’t take up the bipartisan bill without Senate passage of the reconciliation bill.

“It’s very important for the president to know that House progressives and the Democratic caucus are here to ensure he doesn’t fail,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on “Meet the Press.” “We can welcome this work and welcome collaboration with Republicans … that doesn’t mean that the president should be limited by Republicans.”

Democrats will first have to settle on a price tag for their budget bills. At the same time, Biden will have to keep Republicans on board with the bipartisan plan.

It’s a convoluted congressional strategy but reflects Biden’s approach in Congress, balancing his desire to cut deals with Republicans alongside his stewardship of a party that is much more progressive than it was a decade ago. He made clear on Saturday that he views his infrastructure agenda as two separate pieces of legislation and predicted both will come to his desk for his signature.

“Some other Democrats have said they might oppose the infrastructure plan because it omits items they think are important: that is a mistake, in my view. Some Republicans now say that they might oppose the infrastructure plan because I am also trying to pass the American Families Plan: that is also a mistake,” Biden said on Saturday. “I intend to work hard to get both of them passed.”

Author: Burgess Everett
This post originally appeared on Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

Can Biden's foreign policy really deliver for the middle class?

White House and Biden administration officials say the president’s first foreign trip was about establishing credibility with partners: laying the groundwork for plans on everything from trade to tax rates that will eventually deliver for America’s middle class and its counterparts in other democracies.

It’s a set of hopes that rest on handshake diplomacy and international agreements with disparate foreign governments, which are supposed to eventually deliver gains to the middle class.

“The intentions are clearer at this moment than the outcome,” said Ashley Tellis, co-author of a 2020 paper with Jake Sullivan — now Biden’s national security advisor — on how to apply foreign and trade policy for the benefit of the U.S. middle class.

Sullivan, in a call with reporters Thursday, pushed back on that observation. “This was an unusually productive substantive set of summits with real, tangible outcomes,” Sullivan said. He pointed to the U.S. commitment of half a billion Pfizer vaccines to the 100 lowest-income countries, which he said helped to galvanize vaccine commitments from the other G-7 members. With Biden mandating American production of those doses, the plan also serves as a minor boost for domestic manufacturing.

But other middle-class benefits from the week of global summitry are less direct.

Perhaps the most tangible policy outcome from Biden’s first venture overseas as president was the G-7 agreement on a 15 percent global corporate minimum tax. The administration has been quick to trumpet the commitment from fellow nations, but it’s unclear just what benefit that will have for U.S. jobs or American wages — compared to, say, a $ 15 minimum wage — or if it will even come to pass.

Biden’s ancestral home, Ireland, is the most vocal opponent of the proposed 15 percent corporate minimum tax rate, and it may take the president’s personal intervention to shift their position. Even if Biden succeeds, the new tax will come into effect in 2023 at the earliest.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday that she is determined to hold the line as negotiations continue among more than 130 countries. “We would not agree to any type of carve-out that would meaningfully weaken a global minimum tax regime — not from China and not from other countries,” she said.

Even Biden’s domestic political allies aren’t convinced the agreement goes far enough. While labor unions welcomed the 15 percent tax rate announcement, Cathy Feingold, who runs the AFL-CIO’s international department, said it was too low to fund the programs needed to overcome Covid-induced inequalities. “A 15 percent rate could raise $ 150 billion globally each year. But with a 20 percent rate you raise $ 300 billion annually, and with a 25 percent rate it’s $ 580 billion,” she said.

Though American businesses might soon face stricter tax rules, the administration is keen to note that they will benefit from new market opportunities. The White House says there’s a $ 40 trillion market for new infrastructure in the developing world, one that China currently dominates. Bidens’ Build Back Better World plan, agreed to with G-7 leaders, is designed to complement domestic infrastructure ambitions by creating, as the plan notes, “new opportunities to demonstrate U.S. competitiveness abroad and create jobs at home.”

The administration wants to fund and build infrastructure to high, green standards around the world — betting rich democracies can do that better than Chinese competitors. But even if the administration meets their goal of mobilizing “hundreds of billions of dollars” for these projects, that’s only a fraction of expected domestic infrastructure spending, and not all of those jobs will go to Americans: the benefit for domestic workers will be marginal.

In some cases, the Biden approach abroad thus far has been simply to keep Trump policies in place, as with tariffs levied — under the guise of national security — on European steel and aluminium.

The steel tariffs are popular in swing states and among affected workers, though there’s scant evidence that they’ve majorly impacted domestic production and sales. The American steel industry has added several thousand jobs since the tariffs were put in place in 2018: a modest increase but a mere blip among the 160 million-strong national labor force.

One area where Biden’s foreign policy could have a more direct impact on the U.S. middle class is on trade. In a speech to labor unions on the eve of Biden’s overseas trip, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai evangelized about ending a global “race to the bottom” — which for 40 years led nations to compete to limit wages and regulations to attract corporate investment.

Sullivan said Friday that an agreement to end a 16-year dispute between Airbus and Boeing is a win for workers on both sides of the Atlantic, and a sign that the race is ending.

“The U.S. and the EU will be working together to protect jobs and protect technology in Europe in the United States” by turning their collective political power “against China’s predatory practices,” instead of each other, Sullivan said. “In the end it will help secure and grow jobs in our own aviation industry by relaxing the tariffs and by protecting against predatory competition from China,” he said.

Boeing supports around 10,000 American businesses in its supply chain, and directly employs over 140,000 American workers. Unions have been pushing Boeing, Congress and the administration to limit job cuts planned by the company, and expressed support for USTR shifting attention to Chinese business practices.

But if the Airbus-Boeing dispute is anything to go by, it could be a decade or more before China amends what Tai labeled its “nonmarket practices.” And as airlines work to recoup pandemic losses, it’s unlikely that lower sticker prices for large aircraft will trickle down to the average American’s flight home for Thanksgiving.

More broadly, the administration’s confrontation of China economically remains a long-term project and not something that the president could tidy up in his first trip.

As that long-term project takes place, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is taking an expansive approach to the middle class challenge. Speaking in March, Blinken said he would use “every tool to stop countries from stealing our intellectual property or manipulating their currencies to get an unfair advantage. We will fight corruption, which stacks the deck against us.”

For the Biden administration, everything from anti-corruption networks to vaccine donations is branded as a boost to the middle class. And while international summits at 5-star resorts and 18th century European villas may seem far removed from the pocket book concerns of working families, the administration sees them as staging posts in a steady policy approach.

“Europe is the most promising place to test run a foreign policy for the middle class,” said former Ambassador Dan Baer, the Obama administration’s envoy to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Security in Europe.

“If you’re going to think about how to negotiate a next wave of globalization, it makes sense to start with negotiations with other democratic governments who have a commitment to the social welfare of their citizens. That means not just Youngstown or Bakersfield but also Stuttgart and Marseilles.” Baer said.

Author: Ryan Heath and Christopher Cadelago
This post originally appeared on Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories