The president met Wednesday, Jan. 26, with ten executives from the private sector to “highlight what they see as the key benefits” of the Build Back Better Act for “the American economy and American business.” The meeting primarily focused on climate and child care provisions, and each of the chosen few attendees stands to benefit at the taxpayers’ expense should these measures pass.
Left-wing legislators and the White House spent months struggling to pass some version of Build Back Better, only for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to kill it in an instant. But the president isn’t ready to give up on his baby quite yet. Can Joe Biden resurrect his massive “human infrastructure” socialist shopping list? Virtue signaling to the poor and middle class didn’t work – but perhaps breaking it up and courting corporate America will do the trick.
Mind Your Business
The first to speak during the meeting, after the president, was Cummins CEO Tom Linebarger, and he wasted little time revealing exactly how BBB would benefit corporations. “I just wanted to say that I think climate change is the existential crisis of our time and I know that I will not want to be sitting in my living room with my kids and grandkids and not say I made every effort I could to address it,” he said, adding that companies like Cummins can invest in making a big difference in addressing climate change, but “the truth is we can’t do it alone. We need investments, tax credits, and the Build Back Better Act for clean trucks.”
While Microsoft’s Brad Smith offered a “full throated endorsement of the climate provisions as well,” he focused mostly on child care and educational funding increases. “What we see is, we need to do more to help bring Americans back to work and one of the key ingredients that we see … is that people can only come back to work if they have a way to take care of their children,” he said.
As an employee benefit – those nice little extras businesses throw in to sweeten the deal and attract workers – Microsoft offers reimbursement for child care costs up to a certain point. While the universal pre-K and reduced cost child care Smith praised certainly help the company, so do the tax credits for those reimbursements, which would increase under Biden’s law.
General Motors’ Mary Barra talked about all the money the auto manufacturer plans to spend on electric vehicles – and then explained that what it really needs is the cap on EV credits to be removed.
All three business leaders who spoke mentioned some way the American taxpayer would be made to support their company’s bottom line should these sections of Build Back Better become law. Present at the table with Biden were:
- General Motors CEO Mary Barra
- Ford CEO Jim Farley
- Microsoft President Brad Smith
- Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff
- TIAA CEO Thasunda Brown Duckett
- Corning CEO Wendell Weeks
- HP CEO Enrique Lores
- Cummins CEO Tom Linebarger
- Etsy CEO Josh Silverman
- Siemens USA CEO Barbara Humpton
Break It Up
While the massive social spending bill simply couldn’t pass in its original form, some of the discrete components might actually clear Congress individually. “I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now, and come back and fight for the rest later,” the president said during his marathon press conference last week. He listed clean energy and early childhood education as the elements he feels can clear Congress, and the fact that he focused on these in his meeting with business leaders further suggests that’s the version of the bill likely to be pushed first.
But there’s still the problem of who wants what. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said he would “fight like hell” for an expansion of the child tax credit, but Biden suggested it was one of several things he didn’t think would make it in the final package. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is dead set on removing the State And Local Tax (SALT) deduction cap, even promising in 2020 that if he became majority leader, he would “eliminate it forever.” The other Democrats involved in the negotiations say there simply isn’t room for the expensive tax change, however. Schumer isn’t the only one with a taste for SALT; failing to remove or at least significantly raise the cap will give any Senate-passed bill hell in the House.
Biden seems ready to roll on the new and improved BBB Part I, but it has a long way to go yet. Every Democrat with a vote will want their cause represented in the first section out of fear a second will never materialize. Any proposal that does come likely won’t be before Feb. 18, as that’s the next – and very near – government funding deadline. But, as Cowen Washington Research Group Managing Director Chris Krueger told Market Watch, the March 1 State of the Union address seems likely to “inject a degree of urgency.” As such, expect Democrats to get to work in the second half of February.
~ Read more from James Fite.