Oct 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Pelosi expects “billionaire’s tax” to pay for Biden social spending

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is seen addressing reporters.

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday she expects the chamber to pass the bipartisan infrastructure plan by week’s end, and alternatives to corporate tax hikes and a “billionaires tax” will be used to finance President Biden’s promised expansion to the social safety net.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s comments come as House and Senate leaders try to wrap up a deal. What will get cut — and how the remainder will be paid — are linchpins to a final agreement.

  • A formal deal on the roughly $2 trillion plan also will allow a House vote on the Senate-passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill before surface transportation funding runs out on Oct. 31 — a week from today.

The big picture: Democrats hope these two potentially transformational developments will give them a lifeline heading into the 2022 midterms.

  • They also hope for a boost to their candidates in two pivotal gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey on Nov. 2.

What she's saying: "We have 90% of the bill agreed to and written. We just have some of the last decisions to be made," Pelosi told Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union."

  • "I think we are pretty much there now," she said when asked if the deal would be cinched before Biden leaves for Europe on Thursday.
  • Pelosi also said international taxes, a wealth tax and stepped-up IRS tax enforcement could be part of the final package now that tax rates on corporations and wealthy individuals have been nixed over opposition from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.)
  • ”We probably will have a wealth tax," Pelosi said on CNN. “But, again, it's only 10% of what we — you need.”

The speaker acknowledged the new package will likely be far less than the $3.5 trillion Democrats initially hoped for but added it will still be "transformative" when added to the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill enacted in March.

  • "It is less than we had projected to begin with, but it is still bigger than anything we've ever done in terms of addressing the needs of America's working families," she said.

The latest: Democrats are still debating a top-line price tag for the bill, revenue raisers and key policies.

  • The president hosted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) at his home in Delaware on Sunday morning to continue negotiating key sticking points.
  • Manchin has held firm on a $1.5-trillion cap, while Biden and Schumer are pushing for something closer to $2 trillion.
  • Two potential cuts as the package gets smaller are paid leave for families and Medicare expansion for dental, vision and hearing.
  • Manchin also opposes key climate provisions, including the Clean Energy Performance Program.

Meanwhile, Senate staffers are working behind the scenes on a tax proposal they plan to introduce as early as Monday. The proposal will serve as the outline for how to pay for the bill.

  • Biden conceded during a CNN town hall meeting on Thursday that he doesn't have the votes to raise corporate taxes — a pillar of his package that's widely popular in polls.
  • Sinema is instead pushing for a minimum tax on corporations and taxing billionaires' assets.

Between the lines: Gaining the support of Manchin and Sinema is crucial to clinching a deal.

  • Each Senate Democrat has veto power over the bill due to the body's 50-50 split.
  • "When you're in the United States Senate and you're president of the United States and you have 50 Democrats, everyone is a president," a laughing Biden told CNN last week.
Go deeper