Biden says it’s time for richest Americans to pay ‘their fair share’ of taxes

Adam Gabbatt in New York
·4-min read

Joe Biden said it is time for corporations and the richest Americans to “start paying their fair share” of taxes as he hit the road on Monday in a concerted effort to promote his administration’s huge new infrastructure and welfare spending plans totaling about $4tn.

Speaking at a community college in Norfolk, Virginia, on Monday afternoon, the US president made the case for increasing taxes on the wealthiest in the US in order to help fund his ambitious $1.8tn American Families Plan and $2tn infrastructure plan.

Related: Biden calls on richest Americans to ‘start paying their fair share’ of taxes – live

The packages would provide funds for childcare and free universal pre-school education facilities, as well as massive programs to rebuild America’s crumbling transport systems and public-sector housing in ways that also contributes to government action on the climate crisis.

“I think it’s about time we started giving tax breaks and tax benefits to working-class families and middle-class families, instead of just the very wealthy,” Biden said, while speaking in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Discussing the excessive profits wealthy corporations have made in the past year, Biden said he’s not “anti-corporate”, but “it’s about time they started paying their fair share”.

Biden said the American families plan, which would dedicate $1tn in spending on education and childcare over 10 years, and $800bn in tax credits aimed at middle- and low-income families would not increase taxes for the vast majority of people in the US.

“It is paid for by making sure corporate America and the wealthiest 1% … just pay their fair share,” he said. Biden said the plan would benefit 65 million children, and “cut child poverty in half this year”.

The plan would also allocate $200bn for free, universal preschool education and $109bn for free community college, regardless of income for two years, Reuters reported.

“Do we want to give the wealthiest people in America another tax cut, or do you want to give every high school graduate the ability to earn a community college degree?” Biden said.

Continuing the theme of taxing the rich, Biden said: “If you asked the top 1% to pay the same tax rate they paid in 2001 when George Bush was president, that would generate around $13bn a year.”

He reiterated what he has been saying in the first 100 days of his presidency and emphasized at his address to a joint session of the US Congress last week: “Trickle-down economics has never worked.”

Biden is keen to shed the philosophy that is a conservative touchstone among Republicans, much popularized during the Ronald Reagan presidency and most recently continued by Donald Trump, that tax breaks for the rich spur business investment that ultimately benefits the masses below in the longer term.

“For too long we’ve had an economy that gives every break in the world to the folks who need it the least. It’s time to grow the economy from the bottom up,” he said.

Monday’s trip with several stops in Virginia, accompanied by his wife and the first lady, Jill Biden, was the latest leg of what the White House is calling the president’s Getting America Back on Track Tour, which will see Biden head to Louisiana next week.

Georgia, Ohio and North Carolina are among the other destinations for either Biden personally or members of his entourage, as they bid to sell the public on his rebuilding packages.

Biden is urging Republicans in Congress ensure bipartisan support for his legislation on the big plans.

He cited “overwhelming support” for the spending among many Republican voters and said he need that to translate in the corridors of Washington.

“Now I just have to get some of my Republican colleagues to support it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, said on Monday that he expected no Republicans would back Biden’s infrastructure and families packages, indicating Republican lawmakers are open to a roughly $600bn bill.

“I think it’s worth talking about but I don’t think there will be any Republican support – none, zero – for the $4.1tn grab bag which has infrastructure in it but a whole lot of other stuff,” McConnell said in a press conference in his home state of Kentucky.