Biden hosts CEOs at the White House to try to build support for COVID-19 relief bill

President Joe Biden met Tuesday with business leaders as he sought to build support for his stimulus package aimed at countering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The American people are hurting, a lot of people are in real, real trouble,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office during a meeting that included JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon; Marvin Ellison, CEO of Lowe’s and U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue.

The meeting comes as Biden tries to sell both Congress and the public on his American Rescue Plan, a package meant to address the coronavirus pandemic and strengthen a damaged American economy. As part of his ongoing effort to pitch the legislation to the public, Biden will travel to Wisconsin next week and participate in a CNN town hall to talk about his domestic agenda.

“We have kids not in school. We have a whole range of issues, but they are solvable,” he said.

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Ahead of the meeting, White House press secretary Jen Psaki pushed back on Republican critics who have slammed Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package as too costly. She said that rather than scaling back the package, one way to address deficit concerns would be to roll back the Trump administration’s tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans – something Biden proposed during his campaign.

“There’s kind of a newfound concern about deficit reduction among some who supported those tax cuts, so that’s one suggestion,” Psaki said.

Biden’s proposed relief package includes $1,400 checks to Americans, increased aid for unemployed workers and help for businesses hit hard by the pandemic.

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In 2017, former President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans passed a tax reform package that cut the top income tax rate for individuals and implemented a flat 21% tax rate on corporate taxes. Biden has repeatedly said his administration would reverse several of the measures in the package.

Yet it is unclear how high the administration will propose they raise taxes on high-income earners and corporations. During the campaign, Biden proposed raising the corporate tax rate to 28%, lower than the 39% corporations paid before the 2017 tax cuts.

Democrats have also proposed tax credits as part of Biden’s COVID-19 relief package. Congressional Democrats proposed expanding the child tax credit to up to $3,600 for children up to 6 years old, and $3,000 for children up to age 17. The credit would be split up into monthly payments to families from the federal government.

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During the press briefing, the White House defended its support of raising the minimum wage to $15-per-hour, with Psaki arguing that the measure would be “a way to ensure that workers are pulled out of poverty, that millions of workers who are doing honest work and making an honest living are not living on the poverty line.”

Progressive Democrats have sought to include raising a minimum wage increase into the upcoming coronavirus relief package, but Senate rules may restrict what policies can be passed in the bill, as Democrats are likely to pass the bill through a process known as budget reconciliation.

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