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White House relies on math to push back against new gas taxes

Republicans continue to reject Biden's ideas, apparently eyeing a gas-tax increase Biden has already dismissed -- and which would generate less money.


Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) appeared on MSNBC earlier and argued that President Biden "needs to lean into" the infrastructure blueprint negotiated by a bipartisan group of senators. "He needs to bless it, and he needs to encourage fellow Democrats to support it," the Indiana Republican said, referring to the president.

"If he does that, I believe it's going to pass in both the House and the Senate," Young added.

At the risk of sounding picky, I couldn't help but notice that the senators responsible for the bipartisan infrastructure blueprint, as of this morning, remains well hidden. The group of negotiators hasn't formally unveiled the plan or any of its relevant details, which creates an awkward dynamic in which the White House is under pressure to rally behind a rumor hidden in a black box.

Several GOP senators have indicated publicly that their proposal will include new gas taxes to help pay for infrastructure investments. Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained during a briefing why Biden won't go along with such a plan.

"[T]he president's pledge was not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 a year. And the proposed gas tax or vehicle mileage tax would do exactly that. So that is a nonstarter for him. I'd also note, for the mathematicians in the room: That only raises $40 billion, which is a fraction of what this proposal would cost."

All of this has the benefit of being true. If the scuttlebutt is correct, and Senate Republicans do intend to propose new gas taxes as part of their elusive plan, it would generate some revenue to pay for infrastructure investments, but not a lot.

In contrast, Biden has proposed bolstering the Internal Revenue Service -- strengthening enforcement of existing tax laws -- which could generate an additional $700 billion in tax revenue over the next decade, without touching tax rates at all.

What's more, it was earlier this month when Biden also pitched Republicans a 15% minimum corporate tax. Since many corporate giants are currently paying nothing in federal income tax rates, creating a new floor would generate revenue that could, among other things, finance infrastructure investments.

Both of these ideas -- greater IRS enforcement and a corporate minimum -- would allow Republicans to keep their precious Trump-era tax breaks intact.

But at least for now, Republicans continue to reject the ideas anyway, apparently eyeing a gas-tax increase Biden has already dismissed -- and which would generate less money.

It's not just mathematicians who are frustrated.