Biden Pitches $5.8 Trillion Plan With Record Tax Hike

President Biden arrives at White House after returning from Europe
President Joe Biden arrives on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House March 27 after a four-day trip to Europe. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

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President Joe Biden unveiled a $5.8 trillion budget request designed to appease moderate Democrats on March 28, with a proposal that emphasized deficit reduction, additional funding for police and veterans, and flexibility to negotiate new social spending programs.

Congress historically sets presidential budgets aside, but they do form a key messaging device. The White House included measures that would add up to the biggest tax increase in history in dollar terms, helping stabilize deficits relative to the size of the economy.

The 2023 budget calls for $1.598 trillion in so-called discretionary spending — areas that aren’t linked with mandatory programs like Social Security — with $813 billion for defense-related programs and $769 billion for domestic spending.

That marks a 5.7% increase from the omnibus spending bill for the 2022 fiscal year that was signed by Biden earlier this month. The budget would reduce deficit spending by $1 trillion over the coming decade, buoyed by the elimination of pandemic assistance programs.

“We spent less money than the last administration and got better results: strong economic growth, which has increased revenues and allowed us to responsibly scale back emergency spending,” Biden said in a statement. “My budget will continue that progress, further reducing the deficit by continuing to support the economic growth that has increased revenues and ensuring that billionaires and large corporations pay their fair share.”

The president also sidestepped fragile negotiations over the remnants of his “Build Back Better” agenda, putting only placeholder figures in the document in what White House officials acknowledged was an effort to give lawmakers space to negotiate.

The hope in the White House is that the document can offer momentum to negotiations with lawmakers like Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who have raised concern over historic spending levels and inflation.

Here are some key takeaways:

Economic Assumptions


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Biden’s budget forecasts were prepared in November, before the latest surge in inflation. Economic growth is pegged at 3.8% this year, slowing toward 2% over the next decade. It assumes consumer prices will rise 4.7% this year, with inflation down to 2.3% in 2023 as supply chain disruptions ease.

The forecasts appear unrealistic relative to private-sector inflation and growth projections. White House officials said higher consumer-price increases shouldn’t have a big impact on the deficit expectations, however, given that revenues would also be higher.

Tax Programs

Biden is calling for more than $2.5 trillion in tax hikes on wealthy and large corporations over a decade, on top of the nearly $1.5 trillion of increases included in the House’s version of the Build Back Better plan.

The proposal adds a 20% minimum tax on the unrealized capital gains for households worth at least $100 million, a political win for progressives who have been pushing Biden to target the mega-wealthy. The plan omitted a controversial bank-reporting proposal from last year that would allow financial institutions to share account information with the IRS.

If enacted fully, this year’s plan would be the largest tax hike in history, but it includes several major increases that already have been rejected by some Democrats in Congress. Biden again called to raise the corporate rate to 28% from 21%, and hoist rates on the highest earning Americans to 39.6% — changes Sinema has said she won’t support. House Democrats also declined to include a version of the billionaires tax in last year’s social-spending bill.

The budget also omitted a proposal to expand the federal deduction for state and local taxes, or SALT. Several House Democrats have said that raising the $10,000 cap on the valuable tax break is crucial for securing their vote on any legislation that alters the tax code.

Defense Programs

Biden is calling for $813 billion in total defense spending for the coming year, with the bulk of the funds — $773 billion — going to the Pentagon in what the White House describes as “one of the largest investments in our national security in history.”

The request backs a 4.6% pay raise for U.S. troops, a significant increase from previous years. The pay raise for this fiscal year is 2.7%. The administration is also requesting a 4.6% pay raise for government civilians.

Funding is included for U.S. nuclear triad and modernization programs, including the nuclear command-and-control and communications network. Northrop Grumman Corp.’s B-21 bomber and the new Columbia-class submarine, built by General Dynamics Corp. and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., are high-profile programs to boost the nuclear triad.

Under the White House’s blueprint, defense spending is projected to grow from $813 billion in fiscal 2023 to $843 billion in fiscal 2024 and $851 billion by 2025.

Energy Policy

A host of tax breaks cherished by oil and gas drillers would be repealed — even as the Biden administration prods the industry to produce more domestically to lower prices and help wean allies from Russian fossil fuel.

Tax breaks worth some $43.6 billion over a decade would end, a step unlikely to pass Congress. Among them is a deduction of intangible drilling costs, which allows oil and gas companies to immediately deduct some expenses, such as labor, site preparation and repairs. Also ending: a deduction for oil and gas production from marginal wells and a percentage depletion deduction that mineral rights owners can claim for a portion of the value of the oil and gas reserves removed from their property.

The White House proposes a new $200 million “Solar Manufacturing Accelerator” to create a domestic solar manufacturing sector that is “capable of meeting the administration’s solar deployment goals without relaying on imported goods manufactured using unacceptable labor practices.”

Climate Initiatives

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Biden is asking Congress to dedicate $11 billion in taxpayer dollars to helping other nations deploy clean energy and weather the growing consequences of climate change — more than 10 times the amount lawmakers doled to the effort in fiscal 2022. It would mark a massive shift for the U.S., following years of unfulfilled promises of climate funding for developing and vulnerable nations.

Overall, Biden is seeking some $50 billion for programs to address climate change, including $18 billion to build the U.S. government’s resilience to a warming world and at least $20 million for a new Civilian Climate Corps championed in Congress as a way to put Americans to work preventing wildfires, restoring wetlands and making homes more energy efficient.

— With assistance from Katia Dmitrieva, Roxana Tiron and Jennifer A. Dlouhy.