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    Biden Narrows Infrastructure Proposal to Win Republican Support

    The president offered new concessions this week, including dropping his plan to reverse some of the 2017 tax cuts, as he tries to win support from Senate Republicans.WASHINGTON — President Biden offered a series of concessions to try to secure a $1 trillion infrastructure deal with Senate Republicans in an Oval Office meeting this week, narrowing both his spending and tax proposals as negotiations barreled into the final days of what could be an improbable agreement or a blame game that escalates quickly. More

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    Progressive Lawmakers to Unveil Legislation on Energy and Public Housing

    The proposal, billed as the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, offers a clear policy marker for liberals as Democrats seek to influence President Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.WASHINGTON — Top liberal lawmakers are set to unveil legislation on Monday that would modernize the public housing system and start a transition to renewable energy, offering a clear policy marker for progressives as Democrats haggle over the details of President Biden’s infrastructure plan and how to push it through Congress.The introduction of the legislation, led by Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, is the first of multiple proposals from progressive lawmakers as they seek to influence a $2.3 trillion infrastructure overhaul to address climate change and economic inequities.Their proposal comes as Mr. Biden and his allies are navigating congressional crosscurrents that include the larger policy demands of a Democratic caucus that has little room for disagreement and Republicans who say they want to compromise, but have largely panned a plan paid for by tax increases. While the president has outlined the broad contours of his proposal, it is up to lawmakers to reach agreement on the final provisions and details of the legislation.Some lawmakers are floating the prospect of downsizing Mr. Biden’s legislative plan to win the 10 Republican votes needed to overcome the 60-vote filibuster threshold in the Senate, amid a flurry of lobbying from rank-and-file members. Progressive Democrats like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Mr. Sanders are instead doubling down on their call for a larger package than the president proposed and pushing to shape what could be one of the largest investments of federal dollars in a generation.The progressives’ legislation, billed as the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, is a prong of the broader climate platform that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and others have long championed to help the United States wean itself from fossil fuels. It would repeal limitations on the construction of public housing and create grant programs to ensure improvements that not only address unsafe and aging housing, but reduce carbon emissions.“We’re here to make sure the Democratic Party upholds its values and keeps its promises, and to also push and expand the scope and the ambition of the Democratic Party,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview. She and other liberal lawmakers are expected to reintroduce additional parts of the Green New Deal this week.Filling sand bags to protect public housing before a hurricane in Lumberton, N.C., in 2019. Republicans have seized on the climate and housing provisions in President Biden’s infrastructure plan as overreach.Alyssa Schukar for The New York TimesTo qualify for the grants, recipients would have to adhere to strong labor standards, such as protection of collective bargaining and use of American manufacturing and products. The legislation would also fund tenant protection vouchers for displaced residents and create apprenticeship programs for residents.When Mr. Biden outlined his proposal last month, he called for more than $40 billion to improve public housing infrastructure. At an event in New York on Sunday, a group of lawmakers from the state, including Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, pushed for at least double that figure.“Public housing has been neglected, left to get worse, and we’re not going to stand for it anymore,” Mr. Schumer said. The president’s plan, he added, was “a good start, but it ain’t enough.”Mr. Sanders, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and allies envision the proposal costing between $119 billion and $172 billion over 10 years to meet the needs of their constituents, according to an estimate provided to The New York Times. It aims to create thousands of maintenance and construction jobs.“Probably our best bet would be one bill — and it should be a large bill,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview. “I think it’s just easier and more efficient for us to work as hard as we can in a comprehensive broad infrastructure plan, which includes human infrastructure as well as physical infrastruture.”Republicans, who have sought to weaponize the Green New Deal in recent years as egregious federal overreach that would harm the economy, have already seized on the climate and housing provisions in Mr. Biden’s plan as far beyond the traditional definition of infrastructure. Mr. Biden is also preparing a second proposal that would focus even more on projects outside what Republicans call “real” infrastructure and could bring the total cost to $4 trillion.“Republicans are not going to partner with Democrats on the Green New Deal or on raising taxes to pay for it,” Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, said at a news conference last month. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, has repeatedly warned that the infrastructure plan is “a Trojan horse” for liberal priorities, while Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican, declared last week that “it’s a lot of Green New Deal” that would lead voters to turn away from Democrats.“I think the expansive definition of infrastructure that we see in this sort of ‘Green New Deal wish list’ is called into question,” Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, said on “Fox News” last week. “I don’t think that the American people, when they think of infrastructure, are thinking of home health aides and other things that are included in this bill.”In acknowledgment of both Republican resistance to Mr. Biden’s plan and the lure of bipartisan legislation, some lawmakers have raised the possibility of first passing a smaller bill that addresses roads, bridges and broadband with Republican votes before Democrats use the fast-track budget reconciliation process to bypass the filibuster and unilaterally push the remainder of the legislative proposals through both chambers.“I think that if we come together in a bipartisan way to pass that $800 billion hard infrastructure bill that you were talking about, that I’ve been urging, then we show our people that we can solve their problems,” Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, said on “Fox News Sunday.” While the progressives’ proposal is largely unchanged from its original iteration in 2019, the political landscape is vastly different, with Democrats in control of Washington. Mr. Sanders now oversees the Senate Budget Committee, and a historic investment of federal funds to counter the economic and health effects of the coronavirus pandemic has some lawmakers and voters more open to substantial spending.“The time has now caught up to the legislation, and I’m really thrilled about that,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. “You have a respiratory pandemic that’s layered on communities that are suffering from childhood asthma, that are already dealing with lung issues, that have pre-existing hypertension, which are all indicated by factors of environmental injustice.”Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives have championed a broader climate platform.Anna Moneymaker for The New York TimesThe Congressional Progressive Caucus, in an outline of five priorities for the final infrastructure product, singled out key elements of the housing legislation, including the energy efficiency standards. But with slim margins in both chambers and a huge lobbying campaign underway to ensure pet policies and provisions are included, it is unclear how Democrats would work this proposal in and whether every member of the caucus would sign on.Mr. Sanders acknowledged that the path forward for his proposal — and a number of other liberal priorities — could be difficult even with Democrats in control. He and other members of his party are exploring using budget reconciliation to pass elements of Mr. Biden’s legislative agenda, including his infrastructure plan. But without Republican votes, every Senate Democrat would need to remain united behind the entire package.“That is not easy stuff,” Mr. Sanders said. “People have different perspectives, people come from very different types of states, different politics, and that’s going to be a very difficult job for both the House and the Senate.” More

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    Biden’s Tax Plan Aims to Raise $2.5 Trillion and End Profit-Shifting

    The plan detailed by the Treasury Department would make it harder for companies to avoid paying taxes on both U.S. income and profits stashed abroad.WASHINGTON — Large companies like Apple and Bristol Myers Squibb have long employed complicated maneuvers to reduce or eliminate their tax bills by shifting income on paper between countries. The strategy has enriched accountants and shareholders, while driving down corporate tax receipts for the federal government.President Biden sees ending that practice as central to his $2 trillion infrastructure package, pushing changes to the tax code that his administration says will ensure American companies are contributing tax dollars to help invest in the country’s roads, bridges, water pipes and in other parts of his economic agenda.On Wednesday, the Treasury Department released the details of Mr. Biden’s tax plan, which aims to raise as much as $2.5 trillion over 15 years to help finance the infrastructure proposal. That includes bumping the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent, imposing a strict new minimum tax on global profits and cracking down on companies that try to move profits offshore.The plan also aims to stop big companies that are profitable but have no federal income tax liability from paying no taxes to the Treasury Department by imposing a 15 percent tax on the profits they report to investors. Such a change would affect about 45 corporations, according to the Biden administration’s estimates, because it would be limited to companies earning $2 billion or more per year.“Companies aren’t going to be able to hide their income in places like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda in tax havens,” Mr. Biden said on Wednesday during remarks at the White House. He defended the tax increases as necessary to pay for infrastructure investments that America needs and to help reduce the federal deficit over the long term.Still, his 15 percent tax is a narrower version of the one he proposed in the 2020 campaign that would have applied to companies with $100 million or more in profits per year.Mr. Biden’s proposals are a repudiation of Washington’s last big tax overhaul — President Donald J. Trump’s 2017 tax cuts. Biden administration officials say that law increased the incentives for companies to shift profits to lower-tax countries, while reducing corporate tax receipts in the United States to match their lowest levels as a share of the economy since World War II.Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, in rolling out the plan, said it would end a global “race to the bottom” of corporate taxation that has been destructive for the American economy and its workers.“Our tax revenues are already at their lowest level in generations,” Ms. Yellen said. “If they continue to drop lower, we will have less money to invest in roads, bridges, broadband and R&D.”The plan, while ambitious, will not be easy to enact.Some of the proposals, like certain changes to how a global minimum tax is applied to corporate income, could possibly be put in place by the Treasury Department via regulation. But most will need the approval of Congress, including increasing the corporate tax rate. Given Democrats’ narrow majorities in the Senate and the House, that proposed rate could drop. Already, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a crucial swing vote, has said he would prefer a 25 percent corporate rate.Mr. Biden indicated he was willing to negotiate, saying: “Debate is welcome. Compromise is inevitable. Changes are certain.” But he added that “inaction is not an option.”At the core of the tax proposal is an attempt to rewrite decades of tax-code provisions that have encouraged and rewarded companies who stash profits overseas.It would increase the rate of what is essentially a minimum tax on money American companies earn abroad, and it would apply that tax to a much broader selection of income. It would also eliminate lucrative tax deductions for foreign-owned companies that are based in low-tax countries — like Bermuda or Ireland — but have operations in the United States.“We are being quite explicit: We don’t think profit-shifting is advantageous from a U.S. perspective,” David Kamin, the deputy director of the National Economic Council, said in an interview. “It is a major problem,” he said, adding that with the proposed changes, “We have the opportunity to lead the world.”Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said that the plan would end a global “race to the bottom” of corporate taxation that has been destructive for the American economy and its workers.Al Drago for The New York TimesThe corporate income tax rate in the United States is currently 21 percent, but many large American companies pay effective tax rates that are much lower than that. Corporations that have operations in multiple countries often shift assets or income — sometimes in physical form, but other times, simply in their accountants’ books — between countries in search of the lowest possible tax bill.Companies also shift jobs and investments between countries, but often for different reasons. In many cases, they are following lower labor costs or seeking customers in new markets to expand their businesses. The Biden plan would create tax incentives for companies to invest in production and research in the United States.Previous administrations have tried to curb the offshoring of jobs and profits. Mr. Trump’s tax cuts reduced the corporate rate to 21 percent from 35 percent in the hopes of encouraging more domestic investment. It established a global minimum tax for corporations based in the United States and a related effort meant to reduce profit-shifting by foreign companies with operations in the country, though both provisions were weakened by subsequent regulations issued by Mr. Trump’s Treasury Department.Conservative tax experts, including several involved in writing the 2017 law, say they have seen no evidence of the law enticing companies to move jobs overseas. Mr. Biden has assembled a team of tax officials who contend the provisions have given companies new incentives to move investment and profits offshore.Mr. Biden’s plan would raise the rate of Mr. Trump’s minimum tax and apply it more broadly to income that American companies earn overseas. Those efforts would try to make it less appealing for companies to book profits in lower-tax companies.That includes discouraging American companies from moving their headquarters abroad for tax purposes, particularly through the practice known as “inversions,” where companies from different countries merge, creating a new foreign-located firm.Under current law, companies with headquarters in low-tax countries can move some of their profits earned by subsidiaries in the United States and send them back to headquarters as payments for things like the use of intellectual property, then deduct those payments from their American income taxes. The Biden plan would disallow those deductions for companies based in low-tax countries.Treasury Department officials estimate the proposed changes to offshore taxation would raise about $700 billion over 10 years.Companies defend their decisions to locate profits and operations offshore, saying they do so for a variety of reasons, including so that they can compete globally.Business groups blasted the proposal on Wednesday, saying that while they agreed that the United States needed to invest in infrastructure, the tax plan would put American firms at a significant competitive disadvantage.Neil Bradley, an executive vice president and the chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement on Wednesday that the proposal would “hurt American businesses and cost American jobs” and that it would hinder their ability to compete in a global economy.And members of the Business Roundtable, which represents corporate chief executives in Washington, said this week that Mr. Biden’s plan for a global minimum tax “threatens to subject the U.S. to a major competitive disadvantage.”Republican lawmakers also denounced the plan as bad for business, with some on the House Ways and Means Committee saying that “their massive tax hikes will be shouldered by American workers and small businesses.”Still, some companies expressed an openness to certain tax hikes.John Zimmer, the president and a founder of Lyft, told CNN on Wednesday that he supported Mr. Biden’s proposed 28 percent corporate tax rate.“I think it’s important to make investments again in the country and the economy,” Mr. Zimmer said. “And as the economy grows, so too does jobs and so too does people’s needs to get around.”Mr. Biden’s team hopes the proposals will ultimately spur a worldwide change in how and where companies are taxed, which could resolve some of the global competitiveness concerns.The administration is supporting an effort through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to broker an agreement on developing a new global minimum tax. Ms. Yellen threw her support behind that effort on Monday, and the Biden plan includes measures meant to force other countries to go along with that new tax. Global negotiators are aiming to come to an agreement by July. More

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    To Build Support for Infrastructure Plan, Biden Offers His Own Take on ‘Bipartisan’

    President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal is a test of his belief that he can generate popular backing across the country as Republicans seek to block him on Capitol Hill.WASHINGTON — President Biden’s attempt to muscle through a $2 trillion plan to rebuild the country’s infrastructure — along with the tax increases to pay for it — will be a defining test of his belief that bipartisan support for his proposals can overwhelm traditional Republican objections in Congress.Instead of paring back his ambitions in an effort to limit opposition from Republicans in the Senate or appease moderate Democrats in the House, Mr. Biden and his allies on Capitol Hill are barreling ahead with unapologetically bold, expensive measures, betting that they can build bipartisanship from voters nationwide rather than from elected officials in Washington.Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and other members of his party are working to brand the bill as a liberal wish list of wasteful spending and a money grab from a Democratic administration that will drag down the economy with tax hikes.But Mr. Biden is predicting that the broad appeal of wider roads, faster internet, high-speed trains, ubiquitous charging stations for electric cars, shiny new airport terminals and upgraded water pipes will undercut the expected barrage of ideological attacks that are already coming from Republican lawmakers, business groups, anti-tax activists and President Donald J. Trump.In his first cabinet meeting at the White House on Thursday, Mr. Biden directed several of his top officials to travel the country during the next several weeks to sell the benefits of the infrastructure spending. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, also told reporters that the president would host Democrats and Republicans in the Oval Office to discuss the plan and their ideas.“I hope and believe the American people will join this effort — Democrats, Republicans and independents,” Mr. Biden said in Pittsburgh on Wednesday as he formally announced his plan. He compared it to the popularity of the nearly $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill that passed last month, saying, “If you live in a town with a Republican mayor, a Republican county executive or a Republican governor, ask them how many would rather get rid of the plan.”But generating sustained support for the proposal is shaping up to be a major challenge for the White House. The business lobby is preparing to wage a full-scale campaign against the tax increases in the president’s plan, with influential groups like the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce warning lawmakers against raising taxes as the United States emerges from a deep economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.But across the country, some local Republican officials are already embracing the prospect of millions of dollars in new infrastructure spending flowing into their communities, even as they are careful to express concern about new taxes.The president is betting that the broad appeal of wider roads, faster internet, high-speed trains, charging stations for electric cars, new airport terminals and upgraded water pipes will undercut the expected ideological attacks from Republicans.Todd Heisler/The New York TimesIn Fresno, Calif., Mayor Jerry Dyer said the president’s proposals, if passed into law, would allow the city to accelerate plans for a high-speed rail station linking it to job centers in the Bay Area. He said the city had struggled to electrify its fleet of buses and provide robust internet, especially to poorer communities.“These dollars are going to be welcomed in terms of repairing a lot of our infrastructure,” said Mr. Dyer, a Republican. He said he was concerned about the effects of higher taxes on businesses but added that he hoped the issue would be worked out in Washington.“There’s no question the need is there,” he said.Mayor John Giles of Mesa, Ariz., called the president’s proposal “a very good thing” for his city. With the money, Mesa could upgrade a 1970s-era airport tower, widen roads, extend broadband and expand a regional light rail network. He said he was disappointed by the Republican opposition in Congress.“It was only a few months ago that we all agreed that infrastructure was a bipartisan issue,” Mr. Giles said. “That attitude shouldn’t shift just because there’s a new administration in the White House.”But Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, another Republican who has called for a vast infusion of spending on infrastructure, accused Mr. Biden of using the legislation to advance $1.4 trillion in liberal programs.“It still has a lot of good things, but it also has a lot of things that have absolutely nothing to do with infrastructure,” Mr. Hogan said. “They’re like, ‘No, we just want to jam through all of our priorities.’”Mr. Biden and those closest to him understand that passage of the legislation will take place in Washington, not in Fresno or Mesa or Maryland. In announcing his plan, the president sought to cast congressional Republicans as longtime champions of infrastructure, both inviting them to negotiate and daring them to oppose his proposal.“We’ll have a good-faith negotiation with any Republican who wants to help get this done,” Mr. Biden said. “But we have to get it done.”That last line was a not-so-subtle hint about his legislative strategy. If the president cannot win backing from Republican lawmakers, Democrats appeared poised to once again use a parliamentary budget tool known as reconciliation to push through the tax and spending plan with a simple majority vote and most likely only Democratic support.At an event in his home state on Thursday, Mr. McConnell called Mr. Biden “a first-rate person” whom he liked personally. But he argued that the president was running a “bold, left-wing administration” and warned “that package that they’re putting together now, as much as we would like to address infrastructure, is not going to get support from our side.”For Mr. Biden, who spent more than three decades in the Senate, the political calculations are far different than they were 12 years ago, when a similar measure was under consideration.Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, warned that his conference would not support Mr. Biden’s proposal.Anna Moneymaker for The New York TimesPresident Barack Obama took office in 2009, in the middle of an economic crisis with a Senate firmly in Democratic control. Only weeks into his term, he pushed through an $825 billion stimulus bill devised to jump-start the economy — legislation that is now seen by many progressives as far too timid.Mr. Obama and his aides spent weeks feverishly negotiating with conservative Democrats and a handful of Republicans in Congress, who pressed the president to limit the size of the spending plan. Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff at the time, said conservative Democrats like Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska insisted that the president win Republican support.Mr. Biden appears to have taken from that experience the lesson that there are limited benefits from seeking to woo a small number of Republicans — and that the key is to sell the benefits of the plan to Americans and not get hung up on the process to pass it.“The politics was different, the policy was different, the public was different,” Mr. Emanuel said, praising Mr. Biden’s approach. Even before the president unveiled his plan, Republicans argued that Democrats were not genuinely interested in bipartisan negotiations, particularly after they pushed the pandemic relief package into law without any Republican votes.Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, has asked the Senate parliamentarian to offer guidance on how many times senators can pursue reconciliation this fiscal year, which several Republicans took as a sign that they were preparing to bypass the 60-vote filibuster threshold.“It is disingenuous for the president to invite Republicans to the White House and the Oval Office to discuss this when he’s made it very clear — and Democrats in Congress have made it very clear — they have no intention of working with Republicans on this package,” said Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.In an interview, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said she appreciated the outreach from the administration leading up to Mr. Biden’s announcement, including multiple bipartisan briefings for lawmakers and individual conversations with cabinet officials.But Ms. Collins, a member of a bipartisan Senate group that is eager to strike compromises on a number of issues, said bipartisan negotiations would most likely falter if the administration refused to budge on the overall price tag or composition of the package.Senator Susan Collins said she appreciated the outreach from the administration leading up to Mr. Biden’s announcement.Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times“Everyone knows what bipartisanship means: It means that you get members of Congress from both parties working on and voting for important legislation,” she said, adding: “It’s not like it’s some relic of ancient times. We acted in a bipartisan manner on the most important issue last year: the pandemic.”If Democrats are already considering using reconciliation, Ms. Collins said, “that raises questions about whether there is a sincere interest in crafting a bipartisan infrastructure package.”Some Democrats have said that the proposal is not enough to address both infrastructure needs and inequities across the country, and they have counseled the White House against winnowing down a legislative package to win a handful of Republican votes.“I’m not particularly hopeful that we’re going to see a giant awakening from Republicans who decide that they want to pass an infrastructure package that actually addresses climate,” Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told reporters before Mr. Biden’s speech. More

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    Democrats Look to Smooth the Way for Biden’s Infrastructure Plan

    House Democrats face hurdles to pushing through the president’s big spending plans, including Republican opposition and resistance from their own ranks.WASHINGTON — Senior Democrats on Monday proposed a tax increase that could partly finance President Biden’s plans to pour trillions of dollars into infrastructure and other new government programs, as party leaders weighed an aggressive strategy to force his spending proposals through Congress over unified Republican opposition.The moves were the start of a complex effort by Mr. Biden’s allies on Capitol Hill to pave the way for another huge tranche of federal spending after the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that was enacted this month. The president is set to announce this week the details of his budget, including his much-anticipated infrastructure plan.He is scheduled to travel to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to describe the first half of a “Build Back Better” proposal that aides say will include a total of $3 trillion in new spending and up to an additional $1 trillion in tax credits and other incentives.Yet with Republicans showing early opposition to such a large plan and some Democrats resisting key details, the proposals will be more difficult to enact than the pandemic aid package, which Democrats muscled through the House and Senate on party-line votes.In the House, where Mr. Biden can currently afford to lose only eight votes, Representative Tom Suozzi, Democrat of New York, warned that he would not support the president’s plan unless it eliminated a rule that prevents taxpayers from deducting more than $10,000 in local and state taxes from their federal income taxes. He is one of a handful of House Democrats who are calling on the president to repeal the provision.And in the Senate, where most major legislation requires 60 votes to advance, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, was exploring an unusual maneuver that could allow Democrats to once again use reconciliation — the fast-track budget process they used for the stimulus plan — to steer his spending plans through Congress in the next few months even if Republicans are unanimously opposed.While an aide to Mr. Schumer said a final decision had not been made to pursue such a strategy, the prospect, discussed on the condition of anonymity, underscored the lengths to which Democrats were willing to go to push through Mr. Biden’s agenda.The president’s initiatives will feature money for traditional infrastructure projects like rebuilding roads, bridges and water systems; spending to advance a transition to a lower-carbon energy system, like electric vehicle charging stations and the construction of energy-efficient buildings; investments in emerging industries like advanced batteries; education efforts like free community college and universal prekindergarten; and measures to help women work and earn more, like increased support for child care.The proposals are expected to be partly offset by a wide range of tax increases on corporations and high earners.In Pittsburgh, Mr. Biden will lay out “the first of two equally critical packages to rebuild our economy and create better-paying jobs for American workers,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Monday.“He’ll talk this week about investments we need to make in domestic manufacturing, R & D, the caregiving economy and infrastructure,” she added. “In the coming weeks, the president will lay out his vision for a second package that focuses squarely on creating economic security for the middle class through investments in child care, health care, education and other areas.”Mr. Biden’s budget office is also expected this week to release his spending request for the next fiscal year, which is separate from the infrastructure plan. White House officials said it would lay out funding levels agency by agency, so that congressional committees could begin to write appropriations bills for next year. For the first time in a decade, they will not be limited by spending caps imposed by Congress. (Lawmakers have agreed to break those caps in recent years.)That request will not include Mr. Biden’s tax plans, the officials said. The administration’s full budget will be presented to Congress this spring.For now, some Democrats are already jockeying to make sure that their proposals are part of the plan.Construction in Miami this month. Mr. Biden’s plan will include investments in traditional infrastructure projects, as well as climate change initiatives and social programs.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesSenator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, and a group of liberal Democrats on Monday proposed scaling back a provision in the tax code that allows wealthy heirs to reduce what they pay on assets they inherit, known as stepped-up basis. The proposal reflects one of Mr. Biden’s campaign promises, and officials have suggested that it could be used to fund his infrastructure plans.Current law reduces the taxes that heirs owe on assets that appreciate over time. Say a person buys $1 million worth of stock, and the value of that stock rises to $10 million before the person dies. If the person sold the stock before death, she would owe taxes on a $9 million gain. But if she died first, and her heirs immediately sold the stocks she gave them, they would not owe any capital gains taxes. Under the new proposal, which exempts $1 million in gains, the heirs would owe taxes on the remaining $8 million gain.The full exemption reduces federal tax revenues by more than $40 billion a year. It was unclear on Monday how much the Democratic plan would raise in revenues to help Mr. Biden’s spending efforts.Other Democrats pushed the president to include further tax cuts in his plan.Mr. Suozzi of New York said in an interview on Monday that he would not support changes to the tax code without a full repeal of the so-called SALT cap, which limits the amount of local and state taxes that can be deducted from federal income taxes. That change largely hurt higher-income households in high-tax states like California, Maryland and New York.House Democrats passed legislation in 2019 that would have temporarily removed the cap, but it stalled in the Senate and attempts to include it in pandemic relief legislation were unsuccessful.“It has to be elevated as part of the conversation,” Mr. Suozzi said. “There’s a lot of different talk about going big and going bold and making significant changes to the tax code. I want to make SALT part of the conversation.”.css-yoay6m{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-yoay6m{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-1dg6kl4{margin-top:5px;margin-bottom:15px;}.css-k59gj9{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;width:100%;}.css-1e2usoh{font-family:inherit;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;border-top:1px solid #ccc;padding:10px 0px 10px 0px;background-color:#fff;}.css-1jz6h6z{font-family:inherit;font-weight:bold;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.5rem;text-align:left;}.css-1t412wb{box-sizing:border-box;margin:8px 15px 0px 15px;cursor:pointer;}.css-hhzar2{-webkit-transition:-webkit-transform ease 0.5s;-webkit-transition:transform ease 0.5s;transition:transform ease 0.5s;}.css-t54hv4{-webkit-transform:rotate(180deg);-ms-transform:rotate(180deg);transform:rotate(180deg);}.css-1r2j9qz{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-e1ipqs{font-size:1rem;line-height:1.5rem;padding:0px 30px 0px 0px;}.css-e1ipqs a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}.css-e1ipqs a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-1o76pdf{visibility:show;height:100%;padding-bottom:20px;}.css-1sw9s96{visibility:hidden;height:0px;}#masthead-bar-one{display:none;}#masthead-bar-one{display:none;}.css-1cz6wm{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;font-family:’nyt-franklin’,arial,helvetica,sans-serif;text-align:left;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-1cz6wm{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-1cz6wm:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-1cz6wm{border:none;padding:20px 0 0;border-top:1px solid #121212;}Frequently Asked Questions About the New Stimulus PackageThe stimulus payments would be $1,400 for most recipients. Those who are eligible would also receive an identical payment for each of their children. To qualify for the full $1,400, a single person would need an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. For heads of household, adjusted gross income would need to be $112,500 or below, and for married couples filing jointly that number would need to be $150,000 or below. To be eligible for a payment, a person must have a Social Security number. Read more. Buying insurance through the government program known as COBRA would temporarily become a lot cheaper. COBRA, for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, generally lets someone who loses a job buy coverage via the former employer. But it’s expensive: Under normal circumstances, a person may have to pay at least 102 percent of the cost of the premium. Under the relief bill, the government would pay the entire COBRA premium from April 1 through Sept. 30. A person who qualified for new, employer-based health insurance someplace else before Sept. 30 would lose eligibility for the no-cost coverage. And someone who left a job voluntarily would not be eligible, either. Read moreThis credit, which helps working families offset the cost of care for children under 13 and other dependents, would be significantly expanded for a single year. More people would be eligible, and many recipients would get a bigger break. The bill would also make the credit fully refundable, which means you could collect the money as a refund even if your tax bill was zero. “That will be helpful to people at the lower end” of the income scale, said Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst at Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. Read more.There would be a big one for people who already have debt. You wouldn’t have to pay income taxes on forgiven debt if you qualify for loan forgiveness or cancellation — for example, if you’ve been in an income-driven repayment plan for the requisite number of years, if your school defrauded you or if Congress or the president wipes away $10,000 of debt for large numbers of people. This would be the case for debt forgiven between Jan. 1, 2021, and the end of 2025. Read more.The bill would provide billions of dollars in rental and utility assistance to people who are struggling and in danger of being evicted from their homes. About $27 billion would go toward emergency rental assistance. The vast majority of it would replenish the so-called Coronavirus Relief Fund, created by the CARES Act and distributed through state, local and tribal governments, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. That’s on top of the $25 billion in assistance provided by the relief package passed in December. To receive financial assistance — which could be used for rent, utilities and other housing expenses — households would have to meet several conditions. Household income could not exceed 80 percent of the area median income, at least one household member must be at risk of homelessness or housing instability, and individuals would have to qualify for unemployment benefits or have experienced financial hardship (directly or indirectly) because of the pandemic. Assistance could be provided for up to 18 months, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Lower-income families that have been unemployed for three months or more would be given priority for assistance. Read more.He is among the Democrats who have requested a meeting with Mr. Biden to discuss repealing the cap, according to a letter obtained by The New York Times.“No SALT, no dice,” declared another Democrat, Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey.“There’s plenty of ways, in my opinion, to raise revenue and reinstate SALT,” he said in an interview, adding that he wanted to see the full details of the proposal.Ms. Psaki said on Monday that administration officials “look forward to working with a broad coalition of members of Congress to gather their input and ideas, and determine the path forward, create good jobs and make America more competitive.”While members of both parties have said they support a major infrastructure initiative, Republicans have balked at the details of Mr. Biden’s opening bid, which includes not only sweeping investments in traditional public works but also more ambitious proposals to tackle climate change and education, and tax increases to help offset the considerable costs.“Unfortunately, it looks like this is not going to head in the direction I had hoped,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said at an event in his state. “My advice to the administration is: If you want to do an infrastructure bill, let’s do an infrastructure bill. Let’s don’t turn it into a massive effort to raise taxes on businesses and individuals.”“I’d love to do an infrastructure bill,” he added. “I’m not interested in raising taxes across the board on America. I think it will send our economy in the wrong direction.”Should Democratic lawmakers try to move Mr. Biden’s plan through the regular legislative process and overcome the 60-vote filibuster threshold, at least 10 Republicans would need to join them.But the reconciliation process allows a fiscal package included in the budget resolution to be shielded from a filibuster. Mr. Schumer has asked the Senate’s top rule-enforcer whether Democrats can revisit the budget blueprint that was approved last month to include the infrastructure plan, which would enable them to undertake a second reconciliation process before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 and pass it with a simple majority.Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and other top Democrats are arguing that a key congressional law allows them to essentially redo the budget blueprint for the current fiscal year.Anna Moneymaker for The New York TimesBecause there is no precedent for passing two reconciliation packages in the same budget year with the same blueprint, Elizabeth MacDonough, the parliamentarian, will have to issue guidance on whether doing so is permissible under Senate rules.If Democrats succeed, they could potentially use the reconciliation maneuver at least two more times this calendar year to push through more of Mr. Biden’s agenda. More

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    A Year After Ending Her Presidential Bid, Warren Wields Soft Power in Washington

    The progressive Democrat’s proposals for taxing the rich will take center stage as talks on paying for an infrastructure bill ramp up.WASHINGTON — At Adewale Adeyemo’s confirmation hearing last month, Senator Elizabeth Warren pressed the deputy Treasury secretary nominee to commit to using the department’s regulatory powers to scrutinize the private equity industry, which she said posed a risk to low-income communities when buyout firms strip companies of assets, load them with debt and fire workers.Ms. Warren, a progressive Democrat from Massachusetts, has been a mentor to Mr. Adeyemo, who served as her chief of staff when she was establishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau a decade ago. But when he gave a noncommittal answer, she did not let him off the hook.“I don’t think you should waver about this,” Ms. Warren said emphatically. “Treasury should not be a bystander in this.”The exchange underscored Ms. Warren’s role in the new Washington, where the Biden administration and congressional Democrats control the levers of power. A year after ending her own presidential bid, and with her aspirations of becoming Treasury secretary unfulfilled, Ms. Warren now wields influence in her own way. She has shepherded a pipeline of progressive former staff members into powerful jobs across the government, and she releases a steady stream of legislative proposals that have kept her progressive ideas at the forefront of the policy conversation.Two months into the Biden presidency, it is not yet clear how much Ms. Warren’s sway will yield in terms of policy results. But many of her ideas for raising trillions of dollars of revenue by taxing the wealthy and big corporations will soon take center stage as the Biden administration and Congress consider ways to pay for the multitrillion-dollar infrastructure plan that they hope to pass this year.Marcus Stanley, the policy director of Americans for Financial Reform, an advocacy group, said the upcoming infrastructure and jobs legislation would be a real test of Ms. Warren’s influence.“We probably have a big bill coming up in the next couple of months, so when you talk about winning the policy fights, we’re going to see there,” Mr. Stanley said.If personnel is policy, as Ms. Warren likes to say, then she is winning so far. Many of the top officials and senior staff members at the nation’s most powerful economic policymaking and regulatory agencies are ideological allies who have been groomed by Ms. Warren.In addition to Mr. Adeyemo at the Treasury Department, Ms. Warren has worked closely in the past with Bharat Ramamurti, the deputy director of the National Economic Council, and Rohit Chopra, President Biden’s nominee to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.The impact of the hires can be seen in the progressive tilt of the $1.9 trillion economic relief law, which dismissed concerns about deficits and focused heavily on poverty reduction. Ms. Warren and her allies hope that having strong advocates for progressive views within the administration will help those ideas find purchase in a White House that thus far has been more open to tacking to the left than previous Democratic administrations.But it remains to be seen how far the Biden White House is willing to go, particularly with regard to tax increases, which is an area where the two former candidates disagreed.Although she has been off the campaign trail for more than a year, Ms. Warren has been reviving proposals that she promoted in Iowa and New Hampshire.This month, Ms. Warren and two House Democrats introduced legislation for an “ultra-millionaire tax” that is modeled after what she proposed as a candidate. The 2 percent annual wealth tax on the net worth of households and trusts valued at $50 million to $1 billion was unveiled with polling data to back up its popularity and letters supporting its constitutionality.This week, Ms. Warren plans to pitch new legislation to increase taxes on big companies. Her “real corporate income tax,” which was also part of her campaign platform, would require the most profitable companies to pay a 7 percent tax on their annual book value — the earnings that they report to their investors but not the Internal Revenue Service — above $100 million. The idea, which is similar to a proposal that Mr. Biden put forward during his campaign, is intended to stop companies from using accounting loopholes to lower their tax bills.When it appeared that Democrats were likely to lose the Senate after the 2020 election, some industry groups were relieved that Ms. Warren would not become the Treasury secretary. These days, however, they acknowledge that they are watching her moves closely.“Senator Warren is certainly well positioned to have an outsized influence in the Senate and the administration,” said James Maloney, a managing partner of Tiger Hill Partners, a public affairs firm focused on financial services. “Every item that she’s focused on should be a focus area for the industries whose policies can potentially be impacted.”Mr. Maloney, whose firm represents some private equity companies, noted that allies of Ms. Warren were spread across the Biden administration. He said businesses were closely watching the letters that Ms. Warren sends to regulatory agencies and the responses she receives.Mr. Biden has so far not been persuaded by her argument for using executive authority to waive student debt. And the White House has given mixed signals on Ms. Warren’s wealth tax.Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, whose nomination Ms. Warren supported, has expressed skepticism about the feasibility of putting a wealth tax in place. Ms. Yellen’s recent hiring of Natasha Sarin, a protégé of Lawrence H. Summers who has been skeptical about how much revenue a wealth tax would generate, to join her economic policy team raised eyebrows among some in Ms. Warren’s orbit.In an interview, Ms. Warren said she was heartened by the early returns of the Biden era after four years of President Donald J. Trump’s deregulation and tax cuts.“People like progressive ideas and want to see them enacted,” Ms. Warren said. “That’s going to happen. Washington is beginning to catch up.”She said she planned to have a private conversation with Ms. Yellen about how to establish the tax.During the 2020 primary campaign, Ms. Warren and President Biden appeared to be at opposite ends of the Democratic Party’s ideological spectrum.Chang W. Lee/The New York Times“If that’s her biggest problem then we’re good,” Ms. Warren said. “It’s easy to implement. We just need to sit down and talk about it.”Ms. Warren acknowledged that helping to seed federal agencies with progressives was part of her strategy of making her policies happen. She said she made her staffing recommendations to the White House privately and repeated her refrain that “personnel is policy.”During the 2020 primary campaign, Ms. Warren and Mr. Biden appeared to be at opposite ends of the Democratic Party’s ideological spectrum. But their shared interest in uplifting the middle class and reducing income inequality has helped forge a strong working relationship.Jeff Hauser, the director of the Revolving Door Project, suggested that Ms. Warren’s ties to former Senator Ted Kaufman, Mr. Biden’s longtime Senate chief of staff who led his presidential transition team, had helped her steer many of her acolytes to important jobs. In 2008, when Ms. Warren was a Harvard Law School professor, she was appointed to join a congressional panel that was overseeing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. When she left that job to stand up the consumer protection bureau, Mr. Kaufman replaced her and continued her rigorous oversight work.Allies of Ms. Warren say she is playing the long game with policy proposals such as the wealth tax, nudging them from European fringe ideas to the political mainstream in hopes that Democrats will have the votes to pass such legislation sooner rather than later.“She’s doing what she always does, which is going person by person in the Senate, person by person in the administration, explaining policy advantages, explaining the political advantages, making the case,” said Mike Lux, a Democratic political strategist and a friend of Ms. Warren’s.In the meantime, Ms. Warren feels a sense of relief after four years of being on defense. On the day she voted to advance Mr. Chopra’s nomination to lead the consumer bureau, she reflected on how different his tenure would be from that of Mick Mulvaney, whom Mr. Trump appointed to neuter the agency in 2017.Mr. Chopra helped Ms. Warren establish the bureau and worked for five years as its assistant director and student loan ombudsman. Mr. Mulvaney tried to cut its funding and scrambled its acronym out of spite.“Mick Mulvaney was doing everything he could to try to undercut the consumer agency, and he made no secret about that,” Ms. Warren said. “Now there’s someone who will be in charge of the C.F.P.B. who sees the need for a level playing field and a fair set of rules and who has the backbone to get in there and make it happen.” More

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    In Washington, ‘Free Trade’ Is No Longer Gospel

    Like its predecessor, the Biden administration has largely dispensed with the idea of free trade as a goal in and of itself.WASHINGTON — For decades, the principle of “free trade” inspired a kind of religious reverence among most American politicians. Lawmakers, diplomats and presidents justified their policies through the pursuit of freer trade, which, like the spread of democracy and market capitalism, was presumed to be a universal and worthy goal.But as the Biden administration establishes itself in Washington, that longstanding gospel is no longer the prevailing view.Political parties on both the right and left have shifted away from the conventional view that the primary goal of trade policy should be speeding flows of goods and services to lift economic growth. Instead, more politicians have zeroed in on the downsides of past trade deals, which greatly benefited some American workers but stripped others of their jobs.President Donald J. Trump embraced this rethinking on trade by threatening to scrap old deals that he said had sent jobs overseas and renegotiate new ones. His signature pacts, including with Canada, Mexico and China, ended up raising some barriers to trade rather than lowering them, including leaving hefty tariffs in place on Chinese products and more restrictions on auto imports into North America.The Biden administration appears poised to adopt a similar approach, with top officials like Katherine Tai, Mr. Biden’s nominee to run the Office of the United States Trade Representative, promising to focus more on ensuring that trade deals protect the rights and interests of American workers, rather than exporters or consumers.The Senate is expected to vote on Ms. Tai’s nomination on Wednesday, and supporters say she will be easily confirmed.Mr. Biden and his advisers have promised to review the impact that past trade policies have had on economic and racial inequality, and put negotiating new trade deals on the back burner while they focus on improving the domestic economy. And they have not yet made any moves to scale back Mr. Trump’s hefty tariffs on foreign products, saying that they are reviewing them, but that tariffs are a legitimate trade policy tool.In her hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Feb. 25, Ms. Tai emphasized that she would help usher in a break with past policies that would “pit one of our segments of our workers and our economy against another.”While Ms. Tai reassured senators that she would work with them to promote exports from their districts, she called for a policy that would focus more on how trade affects Americans as workers and wage earners.When asked by Senator Patrick J. Toomey, a Republican of Pennsylvania and a noted free trader, whether the goal of a trade agreement between two modern, developed economies should be the elimination of tariffs and trade barriers, Ms. Tai declined to agree, saying she would want to consider such agreements on a case-by-case basis.“Maybe if you’d asked me this question five or 10 years ago, I would have been inclined to say yes,” Ms. Tai responded. But after the events of the past few years — including the pandemic, the Trump administration’s trade wars and a failed effort by the Obama administration to negotiate a Pacific trade deal — “I think that our trade policies need to be nuanced, and need to take into account all the lessons that we have learned, many of them very painful, from our most recent history,” she said.Katherine Tai, the Biden administration’s nominee for trade representative, promised a break with past policies that had “pit one of our segments of our workers and our economy against another.”Pool photo by Bill O’LearyIn his first major foreign policy speech on March 3, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken also said that the calculus on free trade had changed.“Some of us previously argued for free trade agreements because we believed Americans would broadly share in the economic gains,” he said. “But we didn’t do enough to understand who would be negatively affected and what would be needed to adequately offset their pain.”“Our approach now will be different,” Mr. Blinken said.Clyde Prestowitz, a U.S. negotiator in the Reagan administration, called the administration’s statements on trade “a revolution.” While Robert E. Lighthizer, Mr. Trump’s trade representative, also parted with the conventional wisdom on trade, he was seen as an exception, a former steel industry lawyer steeped in protectionism, said Mr. Prestowitz.“Now here is Ms. Tai, with a mostly government official career behind her, talking without making any of the formerly necessary gestures toward the sanctity and multitudinous bounties of free trade,” Mr. Prestowitz said. “The conventional wisdom on trade no longer has an iron grip on policymakers and thinkers.”Like Ms. Tai and Mr. Lighthizer, many past presidents and trade officials emphasized fair trade and the idea of holding foreign countries accountable for breaking trade rules. But many also paid homage to the conventional wisdom that free trade itself was a worthy goal because it could help lift the economic fortunes of all countries and enhance global stability by linking economies.That idea reached the height of its popularity under the presidencies of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, where the United States negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement, led the talks that gave the World Trade Organization its modern format, granted China permanent normal trading relations, and sealed a series of trade agreements with countries in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.President Barack Obama initially put less emphasis on free trade deals, instead focusing on the financial crisis and the Affordable Care Act. But in his second term, his administration pushed to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which came under criticism from progressive Democrats for exposing American workers to foreign competition. The deal never won sufficient support in Congress.For Democrats, the downfall of that deal was a turning point, propelling them toward their new consensus on trade. Some, like Dani Rodrik, a professor of political economy at Harvard, argue that recent trade deals have largely not been about cutting tariffs or trade barriers at all, and instead were focused on locking in advantages for pharmaceutical companies and international banks.David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that economic theory had never claimed that trade makes everybody better off — it had said that trade would raise overall economic output, but lead to gains and losses for different groups.But economists and politicians alike underestimated how jarring some of those losses could be. Mr. Autor’s influential research shows that expanded trade with China led to the loss of 2.4 million American jobs between 1999 and 2011. China’s growing dominance of a variety of global industries, often accomplished through hefty government subsidies, also weakened the argument that the United States could succeed through free markets alone.Today, “people are much more sensitive to the idea that trade can have very, very disruptive effects,” Mr. Autor said. “There’s no amount of everyday low prices at Walmart that is going to make up for unemployment.”But Mr. Autor said that while the old consensus was “simplistic and harmful,” turning away from the ideal of free trade held dangers too. “Once you open this terrain, lots of terrible policies and expensive subsidies can all march in under the banner of the protection of the American worker,” he said.Some have argued that the approach could forgo important economic gains.William Reinsch, the Scholl Chair in International Business at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote that Americans had come to understand that the argument that “a rising tide would lift all boats” is not always correct.“A rising tide does not lift all boats; it only lifts some boats, and for a long time, workers’ boats have been stuck in the muck while the owners’ yachts flow free,” he wrote. However, Mr. Reinsch added, “no tide lifts no boats. In economic terms, if we forgo the expansion of trade, we do not get the benefits trade provides, and there is nothing to distribute.”Workers making iron bars in a steel factory in China last month.Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesIt remains to be seen how much the Biden administration will adhere to the Trump administration’s more protectionist policies — like keeping the tariffs on foreign metals and products from China.While the Biden administration has tried to distance its trade policy from that of the previous administration, many former Trump administration officials say the direction appears remarkably similar.In an interview in January, Mr. Lighthizer said that the Trump administration had reoriented trade policy away from the interests of multinational businesses and the Chamber of Commerce and toward working-class people and manufacturing, goals that Democrats also support. He said the Biden administration would try to make trade policy look like their own, but ultimately “stay pretty close.”“The goal is creating communities and families of working people, rather than promoting corporate profits,” Mr. Lighthizer said. “I think the outlines of what we’ve done will stay. They will try to Biden-ize it, make it their own, which they should do, but I’d be surprised if they back away from the great outline of what we’ve done and how we’ve changed the policy.”Ms. Tai has acknowledged some similarities between the Biden and Trump administration’s goals, but emphasized the difference in their tactics.In her confirmation hearing, she said that she shared the Trump administration’s goal of bringing supply chains back to America, but that the prior administration’s policies had created “a lot of disruption and consternation.”“I’d want to accomplish similar goals in a more effective, process-driven manner,” she said. More