GOP senator's 'compromise' on Biden's jobs plan is to cut almost all of it

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Sen. John Cornyn says Republicans could agree to one-third of the money President Joe Biden wants for his American Jobs Plan.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said on Fox News on Sunday that he and his fellow Senate Republicans might be willing to accept a compromise on President Joe Biden's $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan. Their proposal: cut nearly two-thirds of the funding out of the plan.

Cornyn, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, suggested an $800 billion infrastructure deal: "There is a core infrastructure bill that we could pass with appropriate pay-fors, like roads and bridges and even reaching out to broadband, which we've — this pandemic has exposed a great digital divide in this country," he said. "But I think that's the part we would agree on. So let's do it and leave the rest for another day and another fight."

Such an agreement would leave out huge portions of Biden's plan, including investments in priorities such as clean energy and human infrastructure  like child care and other caregiving.

This latest offer is a slight improvement over the Republicans' initial response. On April 4, Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri called on Biden to replace his cut his $2.25 trillion infrastructure package down to $615 billion.

"I think there's an easy win here for the White House if they would take that win, which is make this an infrastructure package, which is about 30% — even if you stretch the definition of infrastructure some — it's about 30% of the $2.25 trillion we are talking about spending," Blunt said then.

Since then, a group of Senate Republicans have been trying to devise an infrastructure plan of their own. West Virginia's Shelley Moore Capito said Wednesday they were hoping for a "sweet spot" of somewhere between $600 billion and $800 billion, though another member of the group, Utah's Mitt Romney, said even $800 billion was "a little high."

Biden repeatedly has expressed a willingness to compromise, but wants a significant investment in both physical and human infrastructure. Republicans have attacked his proposals as "socialism," claimed that only roads and bridges count as infrastructure, and warned that the plan as is might fund "dangerous" things like recyclable school lunch trays.

Biden is scheduled to meet on Monday with a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers who used to be mayors or governors. He met with a different group of Congress members to discuss infrastructure last week.

But any agreement might prove challenging with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vowing unanimous Republican opposition to the corporate tax hikes that would pay for the plan. "I don't think there's going to be any enthusiasm on our side for a tax increase," he warned on March 16.

Axios reported on Monday that Democrats were likely to settle on a corporate tax rate increase from 21% to 25% — lower than Biden's 27% proposal, but still enough to raise about $600 billion over 15 years. Other corporate tax loophole closures in the plan could mean another $700 billion. Business lobbying groups have opposed the increases, but polling shows that higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, like Biden's $2.25 trillion plan overall, enjoy widespread popular support.

As they did with the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan's relief measures, if Democrats are united, they will be able to pass the entire package through budget reconciliation without a single GOP vote.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.