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McConnell slams tax hikes in Biden infrastructure bill, says he is unlikely to support it

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., conducts an interview in the Russell Building on Wednesday, March 17, 2021.

Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday took an early swipe at President Joe Biden’s infrastructure overhaul, decrying the “massive” tax increases in the roughly $2 trillion plan and fretting about its impact on the national debt.

McConnell, who has opposed prior administrations’ attempts to pass new infrastructure spending through the Senate, said he was unlikely to support Biden’s ambitious new proposal.

“It’s like a Trojan horse,” McConnell told reporters in Erlanger, Kentucky, on Wednesday morning. “It’s called infrastructure, but inside the Trojan horse it’s going to be more borrowed money, and massive tax increases on all the productive parts of our economy.”

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The Republican leader said that if the plan is “going to have massive tax increases and trillions more added to the national debt, it’s not likely” he would support it.

McConnell also said that Biden called him Tuesday to brief him on the plan. It’s the second time the two men have spoken since Biden’s inauguration, according to NBC News.

Biden on Wednesday afternoon unveiled the plan in Pittsburgh, known as “the Steel City” for its once-towering status as a leading manufacturing hub.

The White House says the legislation is just the first part of a double-barreled, multitrillion-dollar economy recovery plan. The second leg of the plan, which will involve huge investments in U.S. health care and child care, is likely to be revealed later in April.

The infrastructure plan includes about $2 trillion in spending over eight years, the White House said. The legislation would raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%, which, in concert with other proposed reforms, would fund the new spending over 15 years, according to the White House.

Biden’s plan would also raise the global minimum tax rate for multinational corporations to 21% and eliminate a current tax exemption on profits on foreign investments, the administration said.

“This is not to target those who’ve made it. Not to seek retribution. This is about opening opportunities for everybody else,” Biden said in Pittsburgh. “And here’s the truth: We all will do better when we all do well.”

Those tax proposals would fund a suite of far-reaching infrastructure projects. The Biden plan would invest $620 billion into transportation efforts, including repairing thousands of bridges, expanding public transit, prioritizing electric vehicles and taking steps to account for the effects of climate change.

Billions more would go toward delivering universal broadband access, replacing every lead pipe and service line in the nation, and laying thousands of miles of transmission lines.

CNBC Infrastructure

President Joe Biden has proposed spending more than $2 trillion to fix and update America’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges, ports and green energy technology. Read more of CNBC’s infrastructure coverage here:

The plan would also direct $400 billion to care for elderly and disabled Americans, and inject huge sums into upgrading drinking water infrastructure, homes and schools.

Lawmakers from both parties have long pushed to revitalize America’s aging infrastructure — but the tax hikes and the Biden plan’s massive price tag are likely to draw strong opposition from the GOP.

McConnell in Kentucky on Wednesday expressed concern about U.S. debt levels, saying “we’ve reached a critical point here.”

“I hope we’re not beginning to engage in the habit of anytime we want to do something call it a national emergency and run up the national debt,” McConnell said. “Not to mention, plans that may be in the works in the future, including one the President is going to announce apparently today in Pittsburgh.”

In a statement following Biden’s speech, McConnell accused Democrats of “trying to use important issues as smokescreens for unrelated agendas.”

Democrats, meanwhile, are already applauding the infrastructure package. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in a statement Wednesday said that the plan addresses “the right combination” of issues “to meet head on the challenges that America now faces.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reportedly told the Democratic caucus that she would like to pass the package in her chamber by July 4.

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