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March 22, 2021 5:00 PM, EDT

Broad Economic Plan Featuring Infrastructure Could Cost $3 Trillion

President Biden speaks to media on the South Lawn of the White HousePresident Biden speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House March 21. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca via Bloomberg News)

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The Biden administration is considering as much as $3 trillion worth of measures to include in a long-term economic program for infrastructure and other initiatives, according to three people familiar with the deliberations.

The proposal will be presented to President Joe Biden this week, one person said, asking not to be named as the discussions are private.

Infrastructure and climate change have long been described as key efforts in the pending program, and the new details show the administration is eyeing some $400 billion for so-called green spending, according to the two people.

The plan also addresses investing in human capital, with tuition reductions among minorities along with health care initiatives, one said. Another person familiar with the talks said there will be money for child care and elder care.

Unlike the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 emergency-spending program, the longer-term proposals will feature a major revenue-raising effort. Aides say increasing corporate taxes and rates for the wealthy will be central components of what’s set to amount to the biggest tax increases since the 1990s.

The New York Times and Washington Post earlier reported on the administration’s discussions of a $3 trillion program, likely to be divided into two separate packages. A White House spokesperson declined to comment on the plans.

The $3 trillion figure compares with economists’ estimates for a range of $2 trillion to $4 trillion. The person familiar with the talks said no final spending total has yet been decided on.

Democratic aides have increasingly expected the program will be split into more than one package, given legislative challenges. Putting everything into a reconciliation bill, which allows for a simple majority vote in a Senate with a 50-50 partisan split, may be too difficult given the rules for what things can be included.

Republicans already have made clear they won’t favor tax increases, and are unlikely to support major spending on renewable energy.

“We’re hearing the next few months might bring a so-called infrastructure proposal that may actually be a Trojan horse for massive tax hikes and other job-killing, left-wing policies,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on the chamber floor March 22. Democrats “have an obsessive focus on climate policies to the exclusion of everything else,” he said.

But many Republicans favor more traditional infrastructure tied to transport such as highways, and have endorsed spending designed to enhance the competitiveness of American technology versus China. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has teamed up with Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) to propose such a China-oriented bill.

— With assistance from Nancy Cook and Laura Litvan.

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