President Joe Biden on Thursday suggested he was open to a corporate income tax rate between 25% and 28% to pay for his sweeping infrastructure and jobs proposal, the most concrete view he's given to date on his negotiating position.
"Making sure the largest companies don't pay zero ... and reducing the, the tax cut to between 25 and 28 (percent), it's a couple hundred billion dollars. We can pay for these things," Biden said, speaking in front of the Calcasieu River Bridge in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Biden noted the corporate rate, which is currently 21%, had been as high as 35% before former President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans cut taxes in 2017.
How to pay for Biden's roughly $2 trillion American Jobs Plan has been a hotly contested topic on Capitol Hill, and Biden has said repeatedly it is something he is open to negotiating. The corporate tax hike has been met by fierce opposition by Republican lawmakers, who also take issue with the size and scope of Biden's proposal.
Raising corporate taxes was a core campaign promise of Biden's, and the administration says doing so would raise more than $2 trillion over the next 15 years.
The President on Thursday traveled to Louisiana as part of his "Getting America Back on Track" tour to make the case that his sweeping economic proposals will benefit middle-class Americans and took aim at tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.
"We've got to build from the bottom up and the middle out. That's how we build America," Biden said.
Biden stood in front of the Calcasieu River Bridge -- a 70-year-old bridge that is 20 years older than its designated lifespan, according to the White House -- to highlight the need to invest in the nation's crumbling infrastructure.
"We're standing here in the shadow of the I-10 Bridge, which I've gone over several times myself in the past, and it's a perfect example how we've neglected as a nation to invest in the future of our economy and the future of our people," Biden said.
The President said reforming the tax code would allow for the kind of large-scale investments in infrastructure his American Jobs Plan calls for. He framed his proposal as a choice between giving tax breaks to the wealthiest of Americans and investing in working class families.
"In my view it's an easy choice," Biden said.
The President touted the American Jobs plan as a "blue-collar blueprint" and a "once-in-a-generation investment in America."
Biden said his plan would put electricians to work building a modern energy grid, engineers and construction workers would rebuild roads and bridges, and plumbers and pipe fitters would replace all of the nation's lead pipes.
The plan would modernize 20,000 miles of highways and roads and repair 10,000 bridges across the country, the President said. He stressed the economic value of the bridges while also highlighting the crucial role they play in transporting first responders when disasters strike.
"This is about jobs and also saving lives," Biden said.
The President said the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the need for the US to rebuild its foundation and invest in infrastructure in order to grow the economy, create jobs and be a global competitor.
"We can't afford to not do it," Biden said.
The President said: "When I think about the threats of hurricanes and global warming and the poor condition of our economy as a relates particularly infrastructure, I think one thing — I think of jobs, jobs, jobs," Biden said.
The President highlighted the economic impact his proposals would have on the American middle class and note that 90% of the jobs his infrastructure plan would create wouldn't require a college degree.
Biden was joined in Lake Charles by the city's Republican mayor, Nic Hunter, and the state's Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards. The Republican mayor recently co-authored an op-ed with the Democratic mayor of Shreveport on the need to the pass the American Jobs Plan. The President noted investments in infrastructure have been bipartisan priorities for decades.
"When it comes to bridges and roads and the like, I've never seen a Republican or Democrat road. I just see roads," Biden said.
Later on Thursday, the President will tour the Carrollton Water Plant in New Orleans.
During the 2020 election, Trump vowed to improve the Calcaiseu River Bridge during a speech in Hackberry, Louisiana, acknowledging the bridge's notorious problems. Trump promised "a brand new I-10 bridge," if he won the presidential election.
Biden on Wednesday defended his pitch to raise certain taxes to fund his economic proposals by saying his plan will not hurt most wealthy Americans and corporations but will instead help the kind of people he grew up with.
"We're not going to deprive any of these executives their second or third home, travel privately by jet. It's not going to affect their standing at all. Not a little tiny bit. But I can affect the standard of living of people I grew up with -- if they have a job," Biden said on Wednesday at a White House event.
He said restoring higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans would grow the economy. "Benefits everybody. Hurts nobody," Biden said.
Biden's American Jobs Plan is a roughly $2 trillion proposal to improving the nation's infrastructure and shift the country to greener energy over the next eight years. The proposal would invest heavily in transportation, caregiving for aging and disabled Americans, manufacturing, housing, research and development, schools, and digital infrastructure, among other areas.
Biden's $1.8 trillion American Families Plan focuses on helping families afford child care, making two years of community college free, enhancing Pell Grants, providing paid family and medical leave, universal preschool, recruiting more teachers and providing more nutrition assistance for children.
The President's two proposals are aimed at helping the nation's economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
This story and its headline have been updated with additional developments on Thursday.