Biden lifts the veil on spending talks with Democrats

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For reporters in Washington, this is a frequent refrain from President Joe Biden about the state of negotiations with lawmakers on his domestic agenda: “I will not negotiate in the press.

But Thursday night marked a change from the strategy of playing your cards close to your chest. The president was exceptionally outspoken in a CNN town hall, laying out his maps publicly and not afraid to call out moderate senses Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema about the roadblocks they created in the talks.

The move may have been calculated, as the White House is counting down the days before Biden leaves for a major climate summit in Europe, in which the president hopes to have real national progress in hand to encourage more. countries to adopt similar measures.

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Early Friday morning, Biden welcomed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the White House for breakfast, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer remotely joining the three leaders already back at the negotiating table.

Pelosi later told reporters on Friday that Democrats were close to reaching a deal on their two main agendas.

“We have a few outstanding issues that just need a decision,” she said, describing a deal as being at hand. “I think it’s very possible,” she added.

Biden’s town hall closed what has been the most important negotiating week in months, with the president agreeing to lose some key programs from his initial $ 3.5 trillion wishlist in order to respond to moderates calling for a reduction in government spending. The recognition of the concessions could send a signal to Democrats that a deal on the package, which has been slashed from Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion wishlist to just under $ 2,000 billion, is imminent.

“I think I’m going to get a deal,” Biden said, summing up the movement over the past few days.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden attends a CNN town hall at the Baltimore Center Stage Pearlstone Theater on October 21, 2021, in Baltimore. (Evan Vucci / AP)

This agreement was not easy to come by. Biden admitted painful cuts to his mayoral programs, but the longtime politician, who campaigned on his ability to strike bipartisan deals, said some losses were inevitable.

“Hey, listen, it’s all about compromise. You know, it’s – “compromise” has become a dirty word. But this is bipartisanship and compromise has yet to be possible, ”Biden said Thursday.

One of those compromises – losing the corporate tax rate hike that Biden has long been calling for.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to get the vote,” Biden said. He was blunt in blaming someone in isolation from his caucus.

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“Senator Sinema opposes any increase in corporate and top income tax rates,” Biden said, offering unusual insight into his talks with the moderate Democrat.

PHOTO: Senator Kyrsten Sinema speaks during a committee hearing at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 19, 2021. (Mandel Ngan / AP)

PHOTO: Senator Kyrsten Sinema speaks during a committee hearing at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 19, 2021. (Mandel Ngan / AP)

Later Thursday, a White House official clarified that Biden meant that it would be difficult to get enough votes to raise the corporate tax rate, but that other proposals, such as an increase in the tax on share buybacks or the introduction of a tax on billionaires’ shares, could make up the difference, ensuring that the package, which will likely exceed just under $ 2 trillion, does not increase the deficit federal.

Biden also didn’t shy away from pulling the curtain on his conversations with moderate Manchin. Admitting that the plan to expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision care was “reaching” at this point in talks, Biden revealed Manchin’s thinking and said he could settle for $ 800 worth of money. vouchers to cover dental care.

“He says he doesn’t want to burden Medicare any more for this, as it will lack its ability to sustain itself in the next few years. There are ways to solve this problem, but this part is not of interest to him. Neither. But, look, Joe – Joe’s not a bad guy. I mean, he’s a friend. And at the end of the day, he always comes to vote for it, “Biden said.

PHOTO: Senator Joe Manchin speaks with reporters ahead of the start of a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 21, 2021 (Elizabeth Frantz / Reuters)

PHOTO: Senator Joe Manchin speaks with reporters ahead of the start of a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 21, 2021 (Elizabeth Frantz / Reuters)

Biden also admitted for the first time that his proposal to guarantee 12 weeks of paid family leave would be significantly reduced.

“It’s reduced to 4 weeks,” Biden said, in a frank assessment. “And the reason it’s reduced to 4 weeks is because I can’t get 12 weeks.”

Biden also confirmed that two years of free community college fall victim to downsizing. Instead, he proposed an increase in Pell grants and promised to keep fighting for the program.

“I promise you, I guarantee we will have a free community college in the next few years, across the board,” he said, jokingly adding that his first lady Jill Biden, a community college professor, would insist. on that. .

Benjamin Siegel of ABC News contributed to this report.

Biden lifts the veil on spending talks with Democrats that originally appeared on abcnews.go.com


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