Infrastructure Bill Talks Collide With Democrats’ Goal to Tax the Rich

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But Democrats see a changed landscape. The ProPublica report added fodder. But even before the pandemic recession, corporate tax receipts had plunged 40 percent after the Trump tax cuts. Though the 2017 tax law ostensibly lowered the corporate income tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, the effective business rate has fallen to 8 percent, said Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas, a senior Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee.

“There’s been a big change in voter attitudes on taxes,” Mr. Wyden said. “In the last 10 years, Republicans always want to talk about taxes, nail those Democrats on taxes, ‘tax-and-spend’ and all the rest. Now, the American people are sympathetic with our point, which is that everybody ought to pay their fair share.”

Democrats are divided about how far to go. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, pressed Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen last week on Ms. Warren’s proposed wealth tax, which would impose a 2 percent surtax on the value of assets owned by people worth more than $50 million — and raise at least $3 trillion.

“This is about choices,” she told a reluctant Ms. Yellen. “We can fund universal child care, or we can hand Jeff Bezos enough tax savings to build a superyacht.”

Other Democrats, even liberals, are not so sure.

“The whole term of a wealth tax scares an awful lot of people who are hoping to achieve some wealth,” Mr. Doggett said. “We don’t want to discourage economic success. We just want to level the playing field.”

Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, is stuck in the middle. As a pro-business Democrat, he was tapped by Mr. Wyden to hash out a corporate tax package with Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a pro-labor Democrat. But he is also a member of the group negotiating the bipartisan infrastructure deal.

He said he was confident there would be unanimous support among Democrats to include the international tax framework in a reconciliation bill that followed a narrower infrastructure compromise, “because it’s just so darned complicated.”



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