US President Joe Biden on Wednesday night urged corporate America and the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans to "pay their fair share," arguing that it's time to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle-out.
"Wall Street didn't build this country. The middle class built this country," Biden said, addressing a joint session of Congress Wednesday night, as he approaches the 100-day mark of his presidency.
Calling the 2017 tax cut "a huge windfall" for corporate America and those at the very top, Biden said it poured billions of dollars into the pockets of CEOs, widening the pay gap between CEOs and their workers.
Noting that a lot of companies evade taxes and benefit from loopholes, Biden called on Congress to reform corporate taxes, so that companies pay their fair share -- "and help pay for the public investments their businesses will benefit from."
"We take the top tax bracket for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans -- those making 400,000 dollars or more - back up to 39.6 percent," Biden said, adding the tax rate was at that level when George W. Bush became president.
The 2017 tax cut slashed the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent.
In his remarks, Biden officially introduced the American Families Plan, a 1.8-trillion-dollar spending proposal focused on childcare and education, just a few weeks after proposing a 2-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan.
According to a fact sheet released by the White House, Biden's new plan includes 200 billion dollars for free universal pre-school for all three- and four-year-olds, 109 billion dollars for two years of free community college, 225 billion dollars toward high-quality, affordable child care, and 225 billion dollars to create a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program, among other measures.
With a corporate tax hike and increased tax for the wealthiest, Biden said all investments he proposed would be fully paid for over the next 15 years.
"We must not lose sight of the nation's high and rising debt outlook even under current law. Simply paying for new initiatives won't stabilize our fiscal trajectory," said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a US watchdog group.
"And the massive price tag of these proposals will make deficit reduction harder, since many of the most obvious deficit reduction measures will be used to pay for new costs," she continued.
MacGuineas urged Congress to shrink the size of the packages or identify additional offsets, or some combination, arguing that Congress should match new spending and offsets over the customary 10-year time frame, rather than the 15-year window Biden proposed.