- Mitch McConnell’s message was clear on Wednesday: Don’t mess with the Trump tax law.
- “That is our red line,” he said after a two-hour White House meeting with Biden.
- Republicans and Democrats remain far apart on the scope of an infrastructure plan and how to finance it.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had a clear message coming out of his first in-person meeting with President Joe Biden on Wednesday: Don’t mess with the 2017 Republican tax law.
The Kentucky Republican ruled out any corporate tax increase in the colossal infrastructure package Biden is seeking, effectively doubling down in his resistance to revise what many in the GOP view as their major legislative achievement of the past decade.
“We’re not interesting in reopening the 2017 tax bill. We made that clear to the president,” McConnell said at a brief news conference. “That is our red line.”
“From my perspective, this discussion about the way forward on infrastructure will not include revisiting the 2017 tax bill,” he said. The high-level, two-hour meeting also included other members of the “Big Four,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
-ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) May 12, 2021
Democrats still held out hope that the talks would eventually produce a bipartisan agreement on a jobs and public-works plan.
“We’re going to try hard to get one,” Schumer said. “We’ll see what areas of agreement and common commonality there are, that’s the first step.”
Pelosi said she was confident that Democrats would “absolutely” get an infrastructure bill onto the House floor by July 4.
Biden struck a note of optimism before the “Big Four” meeting got under way, saying “we’re going to see whether we can reach some consensus on a compromise on moving forward.”
The White House issued a statement shortly afterward. “The president reiterated that he ran to be a leader for all Americans – regardless of who they voted for, that he believes there are many crucial areas where his administration and both parties in Congress can come together,” it said in a statement.
However, a chasm still divides both parties on the scope of an infrastructure package and how it should be paid for. Biden has rolled out $4 trillion in new spending plans to overhaul the economy and confront longstanding inequalities in the workforce, with a strong focus on women and people of color.
They include funding for repairing roads and bridges, boosting domestic manufacturing, establishing universal pre-K and tuition-free community college, along with cash payments for parents.
Republicans uniformly oppose the spending, arguing it goes beyond the traditional boundaries of physical infrastructure along with swelling the nation’s debt load. Interest rates are low, making borrowing very cheap in the short run.
McCarthy warned of the specter of runaway inflation on Wednesday. “The other thing too, you have to understand those numbers we heard today on inflation that should terrify every American,” the California Republican said.
A new report on Wednesday showed the price of many consumer goods rising, some of which stemmed from shortages of raw materials. The cost of used cars and trucks rose by a record 10%, Insider’s Ben Winck reported.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has projected inflation will grow sharply in a one-time burst as the economy reopens rather than rocket upwards at an uncontrollable pace.