There may be a breakthrough in efforts to draft President Joe Biden’s social spending package with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) reportedly agreeing to a plan to fund the legislation, Politico and MSNBC reported.
Meanwhile, Biden held a town hall hosted by Anderson Cooper that was broadcast Thursday night on CNN.
Without going into specifics he said: “We’re down to four or five issues which I’m not going to negotiate on national television.”
Biden took a pragmatic approach in the town hall.
Politico wrote this about Sinema:
Still, in one sign of a potential breakthrough, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) signaled Thursday that she’s approved certain funding mechanisms that don’t cross her red line of raising corporate tax and income rates, according to a source familiar with the talks.
“Senator Sinema has agreed to provisions in each of President Biden’s four proposed revenue categories — international, domestic corporate, high net worth individuals, and tax enforcement — providing sufficient revenue to fully pay for a budget reconciliation package in the range currently being discussed,” the source said.
MSNBC political analyst Claire McCaskill, the former Missouri senator, said on “The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell” that she “is confident that the Politico reporting is correct” about Sinema agreeing to a plan to fund the reconciliation package.
Politico reported that the other Democratic Senate hold out, Sen. Joe Manchin, was optimistic that a deal is reachable. Biden has lowered the top-line for the package to between $1.75 trillion and $1.9 trillion, which appears to be acceptable to Manchin,
“We’re making good progress,” Manchin told Politico. “There’s a lot of details, until you see the text and the fine print, it’s pretty hard to make a final decision … we can have the intent, you just have to make sure the text matches the intent of what people want to agree on or what they do agree on and what they don’t agree on.”
Manchin’s remarks indicated that Democrats probably won’t be able to nail down a deal by their self-imposed deadline of Friday, but that talks will continue into next week.
Politico reported that both Manchin and Sinema met Thursday with White House staff. Sinema also met with House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.), His committee deals with tax issues,
Democrats are under increasing pressure to reach a deal so Biden does not head empty-handed to the U.N.-sponsored climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland, which begins Oct. 31. No deal would be a blow to U.S. prestige and the Biden’ administration’s ability to wield influence at the summit.
A deal would also be a boost to Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe who is facing a closer than expected challenge from Trump-backed Republican Glenn Youngkin in the Virginia gubernatorial race,
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would both like to get a vote on the reconciliation package and a separate $1.2-trillion hard infrastructure package that the Senate has already passed by Oct. 31, when funding for key transportation programs expire.
Sinema and Manchin have different concerns about the safety net and environmental reconciliation package, which needs the support of all 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus. under the reconciliation procedure used to bypass a filibuster.
Sinema is more supportive of environmental programs to deal with the climate crisis, but has balked at raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
But there are signs that Sinema may be more receptive to other tax schemes, including a levy on corporate stock buybacks and an annual tax on tradable assets owned by billionaires.
The Washington Post reported:
And while a higher corporate tax rate may be out of a deal, due to the demands of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), a new tax on billionaires’ accrued wealth is newly in play as part of potentially significant shifts in Democrats’ tax plans to fund the legislation.
That actually could be along the lines of the wealth tax that both Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have proposed.
Manchin has been more open to tax hikes for the wealthy, but does not support some of the environmental measures, in particular the Clean Energy Performance Program. That proposal would provide incentives for utilities to switch to clean energy—and penalize those who don’t. The White House and progressive lawmakers have said there are other optionse to reach their carbon reduction targets.
The Washington Post reported that there is general agreement among the Democratic caucus on universal prekindergarten and a national child care program.
But now that the top-line for the package has been reduced from $3.5-trillion to just below $2 trillion some programs will be retained but with less funding than originally proposed. These include funds for housing and homelessness, home care for seniors and persons with disabilities, and the extension of the child tax credit.
At the town hall, Biden said a paid family leave provision had been reduced from 12 weeks to four weeks. He said that seniors might be given an $800 voucher for dental coverage. There are also proposals to expand Medicare to cover vision and hearing benefits.
He said a proposal for free community college would probably have to be dropped. The program had been championed by first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, who teaches at a community college in northern Virginia.
But he said he was opposed to work requirements for the child tax credit, which Manchin has supported.
(Updates with details from Washington Post story on new proposals being circulated among Democrats to raise revenue from the wealthy, including a tax on billionaires’ accrued wealth.)
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.