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Portman: Biden's Infrastructure Plan Would Reduce Employment

rob portman
John Minchillo

Republican Ohio Sen. Rob Portman criticized President Joe Biden's proposed infrastructure plan during a conference call Tuesday, saying most proposals in the bill "barely" go toward infrastructure.

President Biden's proposed $2 trillion infrastructure plan, called the American Jobs Plan, has split the two parties over its contents. Many Republicans have criticized the proposal, saying it's too broad and expensive. Democrats, however, are moving forward with plans to pass the bill in the Senate under reconciliation, which would allow them to need only 51 votes for it to pass.

Portman says a fifth of the bill addresses infrastructure, which is roughly $600 billion. Biden's proposal includes $115 billion to repair and rebuild bridges, highways and roads; $100 billion to expand high-speed broadband across the entire country; $100 billion to upgrade and build new schools; and $100 billion to expand and improve power lines and spur a shift to clean energy.

Portman says he doesn't want the infrastructure part of the bill to fail, pointing to funding needed for the Brent Spence Bridge.

"I don't think my colleagues, Democrat and Republican, would deny that we need infrastructure help, but we want to be able to do it responsibly," Portman said.

A proposed $2.6 billion plan would repair the existing Brent Spence and build a new bridge beside it to spread out the traffic load.

Portman also worries about proposed tax increases, saying it would reduce employment. To afford the proposed plans, the White House wants to raise corporate taxes to 28%. The global minimum tax for U.S. multinational corporations would also be raised. The proposal does not mention raising individual tax rates, including for wealthy Americans.

"For some reason, the Biden administration seems intent upon reversing the benefits of the tax reform back in 2017 and it's going to result in not just higher taxes, but lower wages and a weaker economy despite the funding for infrastructure," Portman said.

In 2017, the Tax Policy Center said that plan would reduce federal revenue by $2.4 trillion over 10 years and $3.2 trillion over the second decade. In 2018, all income groups would see their average taxes fall, but some taxpayers in each group would face tax increases, the center said. Those with the very highest incomes would receive the biggest tax cuts.

Portman will not seek reelection to his Senate seat next year, citing a worsening "partisan gridlock" in Congress. He was first elected to his post in 2010 and won reelection in 2016. Previously, he served 12 years in the U.S House of Representatives for Ohio's second district.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.