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Manchin Agreeable to Wealth Tax        10/25 06:05

   Pivotal Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin appears to be on board with White House 
proposals for new taxes on billionaires and certain corporations to help pay 
for President Joe Biden's scaled-back social services and climate change 

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pivotal Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin appears to be on 
board with White House proposals for new taxes on billionaires and certain 
corporations to help pay for President Joe Biden's scaled-back social services 
and climate change package.

   Biden huddled with the conservative West Virginia Democrat and Senate 
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at the president's Delaware home on Sunday as 
they work on resolving the disputes between centrists and progressives that 
have stalled the Democrats' wide-ranging bill. A person who insisted on 
anonymity to discuss Manchin's position told The Associated Press the senator 
is agreeable to the White House's new approach on the tax proposals.

   What had been a sweeping $3.5 trillion plan is now being eyed as $1.75 
trillion package. That's within a range that could still climb considerably 
higher, according to a second person who insisted on anonymity to discuss the 
private talks.

   House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that even at "half" the original $3.5 
trillion proposed, Biden's signature domestic initiative would be larger than 
any other legislative package with big investments in health care, child care 
and strategies to tackle climate change.

   "It is less than what was projected to begin with, but it's still bigger 
than anything we have ever done in terms of addressing the needs of America's 
working families," Pelosi said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

   Democrats are working intensely to try again to wrap up talks on the measure 
so the president can spotlight his administration's achievements to world 
leaders at two overseas summits on the economy and climate change that get 
underway this week.

   Biden met with Manchin and Schumer, D-N.Y., at the president's home in 
Wilmington after Democrats missed last week's deadline to resolve disputes. 
Biden has said he'd like to see a $2 trillion package and they are trying again 
this upcoming week to reach agreement.

   It's unclear what level of the new taxes Manchin would support, but he 
generally backs the White House proposals, according to the person who insisted 
on anonymity to discuss Manchin's position. Neither person insisting on 
anonymity was authorized to discuss the negotiations by name.

   The White House said the breakfast meeting was a "productive discussion" 
about the president's agenda. The talks appeared to last for hours, but no 
decisions were announced. The Democrats "continued to make progress," the White 
House said in its post-meeting statement.

   Resolving the revenue side is key as the Democrats insist the new spending 
will be fully paid for by the various taxes.

   Manchin and another Democrat, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have almost on 
their own halted Biden's proposal from advancing. With Republican opposition 
and an evenly split 50-50 Senate, Biden has no votes to spare, and the two 
Democratic senators have insisted on reducing the size of the enormous package 
and pressed for other changes.

   One key debate has been over the revenues to pay for the package, after 
Sinema rejected an earlier plan to reverse the Republican-led 2017 tax cuts and 
raise rates on corporations earning more than $5 million a year and wealthy 
Americans earning more than $400,000, or $450,000 for couples.

   Instead, the White House is considering a tax on the investment incomes of 
billionaires -- fewer than 1,000 of the wealthiest Americans with at least $1 
billion in assets. It also has floated a 15% corporate minimum tax that is 
designed to ensure all companies pay what Biden calls their "fair share" -- 
ending the practice of some big-name firms paying no taxes.

   Democrats initially planned that Biden's package would contain $3.5 trillion 
worth of spending and tax initiatives over 10 years. But demands by moderates 
led by Manchin and Sinema to contain costs mean its final price tag could well 
be less than $2 trillion.

   Disputes remain over far-reaching investments, including plans to expand 
Medicare coverage with dental, vision and hearing aid benefits for seniors; 
child care assistance; and free pre-kindergarten.

   Pelosi, D-Calif., said on CNN that Democrats were still working to keep in 
provisions for four weeks of paid family leave but acknowledged that other 
proposals such as expanding Medicare to include dental coverage could prove 
harder to save because of cost.

   Pelosi reiterated that about 90% is wrapped up and said she expected an 
agreement by week's end, paving the way for a House vote on a separate $1 
trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill before next Sunday, Oct. 31, when a 
series of transportation programs will lapse. The Senate approved over the 
summer the package of road, broadband and other public works projects, but the 
measure stalled in the House during deliberations on the broader Biden bill.

   Manchin, whose state has a major coal industry, has opposed Biden's initial 
climate change proposals, which involved a plan to penalize utilities that do 
not switch quickly to clean energy. Democrats are now also compiling other 
climate change strategies to meet Biden's goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas 
emissions by at least 50% by 2030.

   Democrats were hoping Biden could cite major accomplishments when he attends 
a global conference in Scotland on climate change in early November after 
attending a summit of world leaders in Rome.

   Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, said the 
expected cuts to the clean energy provisions in the spending bill were 
especially disappointing.

   "If we're going to get the rest of the world to take serious steps to remedy 
this problem, we've got to do it ourselves," King said on NBC's "Meet the 

   Pelosi insisted that Democrats had pieced together other policies in the 
spending bill that could reduce emissions. "We will have something that will 
meet the president's goals," she said.

   Democrats also want to make progress that could help Democrat Terry 
McAuliffe win a neck-and-neck Nov. 2 gubernatorial election in Virginia.

   Rep. Ro Khanna, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, maintained 
that his caucus will not budge on supporting the infrastructure bill before 
Oct. 31 if there is no agreement on the broader package, which would be passed 
under so-called budget reconciliation rules.

   "The president needs the reconciliation agreement to go to Glasgow," Khanna, 
D-Calif., said on "Fox News Sunday." He added: "That's what is going to deal 
with climate change, that's what's going to hit his goals of 50% reduction by 
2030. I'm confident we will have an agreement."

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