GOP senator says he is not ruling out ‘some kind’ of tax increase to pay for infrastructure

A Republican senator who was one of several lawmakers who took part in President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure meeting Monday said he is not ruling out “some kind” of tax increase to pay for an infrastructure bill.

“I’m not ruling out some kind of pay-for, absolutely,” Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on Tuesday when asked if he was not ruling out a tax increase or gas tax to pay for Biden’s nearly $2 trillion infrastructure proposal. “If you’re going to spend, say, $600 billion over several years on an infrastructure program that’s much bigger than we’ve had before, absolutely. We have to be grown-ups and say it has to be paid for so we’re not going to be able to come up with that money out of thin air.”

He continued, “And, yes, normally when we talk about infrastructure financing, we’re talking about some sort of user pays system so that the businesses and the individuals that actually use the roads more pay their fair share. And if it’s a fair share, I think the American people will understand that. It’s clearly not something we’ve worked out yet.”

Wicker’s comments come as Biden tries to push his infrastructure plan, a two-part proposal aimed to boost economic recovery, though Republicans have raised concerns over the contents of the legislation and how it would be funded. Some Republican lawmakers take issue with the plan’s price tag and its broad definition of infrastructure while Democrats also remain divided over details of the proposal and the best way to shepherd it through both chambers.

The proposal includes raising the corporate income tax rate to 28%, up from 21%. The rate had been as high as 35% before former President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans cut taxes in 2017.

After the two-hour meeting with the President Monday about infrastructure, Wicker told reporters that “clearly there are parts of his program that are nonstarters for Republicans” and that the “pay-for is a problem.” He also said that he told Biden that the tax hikes in his infrastructure package would not win over Republicans.

Asked Tuesday if he saw a middle ground between Biden and Republicans on a tax increase, Wicker told Sciutto, “I think we’re definitely going to have to pay for this infrastructure bill.”

“I think both sides, the President and Republicans, acknowledge that this has to be paid for. He was clear yesterday he’s not into deficit financing for this,” he said.

Wicker also said he believes Biden wants his plan “to not only build infrastructure but to really give our economy a big boost.”

“The point I’m making to the President is to raise corporate taxes on small business job creators actually is a job killer, and I don’t think he wants to do that,” he said.

During Monday’s meeting at the White House, Biden said “I’m prepared to negotiate as to how the extent my infrastructure project, as well as how we pay for it.”

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