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Janet Yellen in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, March 26, 2021. Photographer: Erin Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Janet Yellen will use her first major address as Treasury secretary to argue for a global minimum corporate tax rate, Axios has learned, as she makes the case for President Biden’s plan to raise U.S. corporate taxes to fund his $2 trillion+ infrastructure plan.

Why it matters: Convincing other countries to impose a global minimum tax would reduce the likelihood of companies relocating offshore, as Biden seeks to increase the corporate rate from 21% to 28%.

  • “Competitiveness is about more than how U.S.-headquartered companies fare against other companies in global merger and acquisition bids,” Yellen will say today in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, according to an excerpt of her prepared remarks obtained by Axios.
  • "It is about making sure that governments have stable tax systems that raise sufficient revenue to invest in essential public goods and respond to crises, and that all citizens fairly share the burden of financing government."
  • "We are working with G20 nations to agree to a global minimum corporate tax rate that can stop the race to the bottom."

The big picture: President Trump lowered the U.S. rate from 35% to 21%, arguing that U.S. companies were at a global disadvantage and were being incentivized to relocate offshore.

  • The average corporate rate in the G7 is 24%, with some nine countries recently lowering their corporate rate, according to the Tax Foundation, a conservative tax group.
  • Biden’s plan would also raise the international minimum rate for foreign profits from U.S. companies from 10.5% to 21%, which would still be lower than the 28% domestic corporate rate.

Driving the news: Biden has tapped five Cabinet secretaries to explain — and sell — his plan to the American public, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

  • Yellen’s task is to make the international case. Her speech also is designed to set the tone for the annual spring International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Washington, which will begin virtually this week.

Between the lines: Biden has been relying on Yellen to convince the business community and reassure Wall Street that his $2 trillion+ infrastructure proposal, on top of his $1.9 trillion stimulus package, won’t lead to inflation.

  • Now he’s deploying her to convince international finance ministers and central bankers that the world’s biggest economies need to act in concert on corporate rates to avoid a race to the bottom.

Go deeper: Yellen will also challenge the world’s economic powers to focus on climate change and on ways to improve vaccine access for the world’s poorest countries.

  • She will call for $650 billion in new “Special Drawing Rights” — essentially lines of credit at the IMF that can help developing countries access more U.S. dollars.
  • The Trump administration was skeptical of new SDR allocations and many congressional Republicans are still opposed.

The bottom line: By trying to convince other countries to impose a global minimum tax, Yellen is acknowledging the risks to the American economy if it acts alone in raising corporate rates.

  • “Together we can use a global minimum tax to make sure the global economy thrives based on a more level playing field in the taxation of multinational corporations, and spurs innovation, growth, and prosperity,” she will say.

Go deeper

Column / Harder Line

In uneven economic recovery, climate action risks leaving some behind

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A year ago, almost all of us were grappling with the unknowns of the pandemic. Today, some of us are doing just fine, while others are still reeling.

Why it matters: This split-screen economy, called a K-shaped recovery, highlights the risk facing politicians, including President Biden, as they rally around bold climate action. If new climate laws aren’t inclusive of those less well off in America and around the world, they risk exacerbating inequality.

Health care ruling saves Republicans from themselves

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Supreme Court saved the health care system from imploding Thursday by dismissing a Republican challenge to the Affordable Care Act. But it also saved the GOP itself from another round of intraparty chaos.

Why it matters: Most GOP lawmakers privately admit (and some will even say publicly) they don't want to deal with health care again. The issue generally isn't a good one for them with voters — as they learned the hard way after they failed to repeal the ACA in 2017.

8 hours ago - Economy & Business

Fed chief's second-term audition

Jerome Powell during a virtual news conference. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell faces a long, hot summer audition for a second term, with senators watching and weighing his response to potential signs of inflation.

Why it matters: The financial system's chief is one of the most powerful in the world. President Biden hasn’t given any public indication whether he’ll renominate Powell, but Democrats close to the administration say there's a chance he'll make an announcement by Labor Day — well before Powell’s term ends next February.