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Biden admits his $2 trillion-plus, tax-to-rebuild plan faces revision

President Joe Biden on Wednesday in the Eisenhower

President Joe Biden on Wednesday in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with Vice President Kamala Harris. Credit: Bloomberg / Leigh Vogel

'Changes ... are certain'

President Joe Biden has reserved a good deal of wiggle room for his proposal to fund a massive $2.3 trillion infrastructure and jobs package with major tax hikes.

"Debate is welcome. Compromise is inevitable. Changes to my plan are certain," Biden said Wednesday, reports Newsday's Laura Figueroa Hernandez. Biden said his administration is "open to good ideas and good-faith negotiations" but that "we will not be open to doing nothing."

With Democratic majorities in Congress thin, he's calling for bipartisan agreement. Some Republicans, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have said they support a more limited infrastructure plan but oppose reversing the GOP's 2017 corporate tax cuts.

Biden also will confront a hurdle or two in his own party. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he'd back raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 25%, but not Biden's proposed 28%. It was 35% before the 2017 tax law.

On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen outlined the administration's intended tax take of $2.5 trillion over 15 years. She spoke of pulling back into the U.S the corporate profits currently derived overseas and of the Trump administration's failed efforts to draw revenue from companies that use tax-avoidance strategies.

Part of any true debate will involve the reasonable definition of infrastructure, which Democrats say goes beyond the usual roads, bridges, power plants, water systems and even broadband. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) elicited mockery from conservatives when she tweeted Wednesday: "Paid leave is infrastructure. Child care is infrastructure. Caregiving is infrastructure."

Biden appears to be giving ground already in some areas. His proposed 15% minimum tax on profitable corporations would affect fewer companies than a version he campaigned on, The Wall Street Journal noted. There also is static over how much his tax plan could rely on help from the middle class.

Trump guarded on Gaetz

Former President Donald Trump came out with a minimalist statement of support for his loyal ally Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) — who has done most of the public talking about federal investigations into Gaetz on allegations including child-sex trafficking.

In a brief written statement Wednesday, Trump noted that Gaetz "has totally denied the accusations against him," and that Gaetz "never asked me for a pardon." The New York Times, citing sources, reported Tuesday that Gaetz sought a blanket preemptive pardon from the White House before Trump left office but that it was unclear whether he'd discussed it directly with him. Gaetz denies all wrongdoing.

Gaetz is due to speak Friday before a pro-Trump group called Women for America First at the Trump Doral golf resort in Miami.

Border disorder

Results are unknown for now, but Vice President Kamala Harris discussed with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador the reasons for record number of migrants attempting to enter the U.S.

A White House readout of their Wednesday call said Obrador and Harris "agreed to continue to work together to address the root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — including poverty, violence and lack of economic opportunity. They also discussed deepening the U.S.-Mexico relationship to target human smuggling and human trafficking."

Republican elected officials blame the administration for the rising migrant numbers at the southern border, where a House GOP delegation was due to visit and meet with law enforcement agents.

The coronavirus pandemic meanwhile has added a complication of its own at the border, forcing special restrictions.

Boehner as blamer

Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner has criticized Trump's leadership for years from the vantage point of retirement. Now, in his new book "On the House: A Washington Memoir," Boehner goes nuclear when it comes to the fatal right-wing riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

According to an excerpt from The New York Times, Boehner writes in the book, due out April 13, that Trump "incited that bloody insurrection for nothing more than selfish reasons, perpetuated by the [expletive] he’d been shoveling since he lost a fair election the previous November. ... He claimed voter fraud without any evidence, and repeated those claims, taking advantage of the trust placed in him by his supporters and ultimately betraying that trust."

Ready, aim, hire

Biden on Thursday is expected to announce the nomination of David Chipman, a former federal agent and an adviser for the gun-control group Giffords, as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

If confirmed, Chipman would be the agency’s first permanent director since 2015. The president also is preparing to unveil a series of executive actions addressing gun violence in the wake of a cluster of mass shootings in the U.S.

Sweeping gun-safety bills face tough going in the evenly divided Senate, limiting legislative options. For now Biden is expected to announce tighter regulations requiring buyers of so-called "ghost guns," which are homemade and often lack serial numbers, to undergo background checks.

More coronavirus news

See a roundup of the latest regional pandemic developments on Long Island and beyond by Newsday's Bart Jones and Rachelle Blidner. For a full list of Newsday's coronavirus stories, click here.

What else is happening:

  • Fresh from a patronage job in the Trump administration, Andrew Giuliani, a golf pro and the son of the ex-president's longtime factotum Rudy Giuliani, says he's "seriously considering" a bid for New York governor next year.
  • Big organizations are showing little inclination to hire those who served as high-level officials in Trump's often toxic administration, The Washington Post reports.
  • Despite rumors, the U.S. is not discussing with allies a joint boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing despite the Chinese government's alleged human rights abuses, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
  • Justice Stephen Breyer, of the U.S. Supreme Court's liberal wing, warned Democrats and progressives who advocate expanding the number of judges there to think "long and hard" about that proposal's consequences for public trust.
  • First lady Jill Biden is reviving a program to support military families, including focus on employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for military families and education for children of veterans and service members.
  • Ex-Vice President Mike Pence launched a new advocacy group called Advancing American Freedom, which could serve as a springboard to his future presidential campaign.
  • Trump aide Stephen Miller this week is starting a new group, America First Legal, to mount court challenges to Biden administration initiatives at odds with Trump-era priorities.
  • The U.S. trade deficit hit a record high in February, signaling in part a reviving economy in which Americans are buying more imported products.

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