WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen promoted the Biden administration’s proposals for trillions of dollars of new spending on Sunday, arguing that “there will be a big return” for the nation if Congress approves President Joe Biden’s plans on infrastructure, education and jobs.
“The plans are extremely important and necessary to invest in our economy so that we can be competitive and have families and children succeed, invest in infrastructure, in R&D, and things that shore up middle-class prosperity — education, childcare, and health care,” Yellen said in an interview on "Meet the Press."
“There will be a big return. I expect productivity to rise. There will be great returns from investing in research and development and enabling families to participate with paid leave and childcare support in the workforce.”
Part of the new spending being proposed by the White House is the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan that includes funding for universal pre-school and two free years of community college — in addition to a $2 trillion infrastructure plan .
And to pay for all that, the White House is calling for significant new taxes on corporations and the wealthy, rolling back some of the cuts those two groups received during the last administration.
Yellen repeatedly stressed that the administration believes that the new spending should be paid for, and to do so, is proposing tax increases on those making at least $400,000 and on corporations, increases that roll back some of the breaks passed under the Trump administration.
Yellen said Biden has "made clear that he believes that permanent increases in spending should be paid for, and I agree," but she did not close the door on approving a deal that didn’t include all those provisions aimed at raising the money needed to pay for it.
Republicans have so far balked at the administration’s plan to increase taxes, arguing those efforts would be counterproductive. It’s a message Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, emphasized in a separate interview on “Meet the Press,” where he called the White House proposal too broad, even as he voiced optimism about finding a bipartisan agreement.
“We can come up with a good bill that’s bipartisan and that will actually survive over time because it has Republican and Democratic support,” he said.
Portman went on to criticize the idea of raising taxes, saying that corporate tax hikes will ultimately “hurt workers.” Instead, he called for raising money through things like “user fees” as well as public/private partnerships.
As Biden looks for a path forward on his legislation, he faces significant pressure from progressives within his own party who want a robust plan.
“We are beginning to make some progress in dealing with issues that have been neglected for decades,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said on “Meet the Press.”
“The very rich and large corporations should start paying their fair share of taxes to help rebuild America.”