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Sen. John Hickenlooper. Photo: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Democrats are zeroing in on raising the corporate tax rate from its current 21% to 28% as one of the easiest ways to find new revenue for an infrastructure package.

The big picture: While many senators are signaling that President Biden’s next big-ticket bill must come with a way to pay for it, the White House and its Democratic allies are growing confident they can get there, in part, by increasing corporate taxes.

  • “We should pay for this once-in-a-generation infrastructure package, “ said Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) told Axios. “I’m eager to work with my colleagues on how to achieve this goal, including responsibly setting the corporate tax rate.”

Driving the news: The White House is starting to telegraph Biden’s priorities for new revenue — without previewing the full strategy.

  • “If we just took the (individual) tax rate back to what it was when Bush was president — top rate paid 39.6% in federal taxes — that would raise $230 billion," the president told ABC News.
  • And Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the National Economic Council, told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday: “The president believes strongly that the biggest corporations and those folks who have done extremely well over the last several decades should pay a bit more.”

Ike Brannon, a senior fellow at the Jack Kemp Foundation, said Democrats may feel politically insulated, at least in the short term, because “increasing corporate tax rates doesn't seem to anger too many people, and their major downside — reduced economic growth and jobs — aren't readily apparent.”

Flashback: Prior to the Trump administration, the business community was pushing to lower the corporate rate from 35% to 25%.

  • Trump dropped it to 21%.
  • Biden and his allies are convinced much of Trump’s corporate cuts went to share-buybacks rather than new hiring.

Between the lines: Democrats suspect that after negotiations, Congress will settle on a corporate tax rate between 25% and 26%, less than Biden's proposed 28%. That would raise as much as $500 billion.

  • “Biden believes that we need to make critical investments in infrastructure and research and development,” said Sarah Bianchi, who advised him during the campaign. “Some of our largest companies can pay a little more to help make that happen.”

The other side: “Democrats may think that 24% to 25% is low-hanging fruit,“ said Rohit Kumar, co-leader of PwC’s national tax office. “But the battle is not yet joined.”

  • The Business Roundtable “will be actively opposing efforts to raise corporate taxes,” CEO Joshua Bolten told reporters last week.
  • "Everyone loves infrastructure until you have to figure out how to pay for it,” said Caroline Harris, vice president of tax policy at the Chamber of Commerce.

Go deeper

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.

2 hours ago - World

At least 2 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least two people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Monday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Axios over the phone that two people had been confirmed to have died in the disaster.

Airlines call for Biden admin's "immediate intervention" in 5G deployment

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The CEOs of leading U.S. air cargo and passenger carriers on Monday warned the Biden administration there could be "catastrophic disruption" after AT&T and Verizon deploy a new 5G service this week.

Driving the news: They said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other top federal officials ahead of the C-Band 5G service's deployment Wednesday that "the nation's commerce will grind to a halt" and "could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas."