FULL EPISODE: 4/11/21 WH adviser Heather Boushey and Sen. Roy Blunt on Biden’s infrastructure and spending plans

Published: Apr. 10, 2021 at 11:30 PM EDT
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Washington, D.C. – Greta Van Susteren interviewed Republican Policy Committee

(RPC) Chairman Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Heather Boushey, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, for Gray Television’s “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren,” airing Sunday, April 11, 2021.

GOP Sen. Blunt criticized President Biden’s infrastructure plan, saying only 30% of the proposals in the bill met the traditional definition of infrastructure. “They’ve [Democrats have] taken a popular topic, and they’ve tried to pile as many things under that headline as they can,” said Blunt. The RPC chairman added: “A real infrastructure bill could pass with Republican support.”

Blunt also balked at the cost of the Biden budget plan, saying “somebody needs to begin to think about where we’re getting the money,” as well as the administration’s plan to raise the corporate tax rate, saying: “More jobs are more important than higher corporate taxes, and higher corporate taxes don’t produce more jobs.”

White House Economic Adviser Heather Boushey defended the president’s initiatives, saying the Biden tax plan is “focused on the values of rewarding work and not wealth,” and that the initiatives in the infrastructure bill, like safe drinking water, access to broadband, and a care infrastructure, “are all absolutely critical investments.”

Interview highlights are below.

Sen. Roy Blunt Highlights

On the Biden infrastructure bill

Greta Van Susteren

Is President Biden’s infrastructure bill at $2.3 trillion, is that going to pass?

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman

Not going to pass with Republican support and a real infrastructure bill could pass with Republican support. I think the administration is making a big mistake here by quickly moving beyond what could be, I think, an easily achieved bipartisan bill.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman

I don’t really think that if you’d taken a test on this a month ago and said, “What do you think of when you think of infrastructure?” People would have said, “The social programs of the country.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman

Only 30% of this bill, even stretching any traditional definition of infrastructure, is infrastructure.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman

They’ve taken a popular topic, and they’ve tried to pile as many things under that headline as they can, under that heading as they can, and say, this is all about infrastructure. They’ve got the, “how do we move infrastructure”, which is pretty traditional, roads, bridges, ports, airports, highways. “How do we live at home infrastructure”, that’s a stretch. “How do we care for each other infrastructure”, that’s a real stretch, and “how do we make things infrastructure”. Those last three just don’t meet the standard of infrastructure.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman

I think you can fund a true infrastructure package without reversing the 2017 tax bill. You can figure out how to put a package together that a significant number of Republicans can and will be for.

On the Biden budget plan

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman

I hope it’s a wishlist, and somebody needs to begin to think about where we’re getting the money. We did five bipartisan bills last year to deal with the pandemic crisis, and they all cost more than either party wanted them to cost but that was a true crisis. This is a time when, what we’re suddenly doing without money, is adding brand new programs that would last forever at significant levels.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman

A 20% increase for EPA, a significant increase for actually, oddly, borders security. The President whose first executive order was to stop building the border wall, which was part of a reasonable border security plan. Doesn’t want to go back to building the wall, but wants to put a lot of money in a virtual wall.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman

What we really need is a combination of a wall where it works and a virtual wall where it doesn’t work. Clearly, their border policies are failing. They’re putting a lot of money there. Their EPA policies will not serve the economy or the country well, big increases there. I’m hoping this is the entry discussion, and we don’t wind up anywhere close to another $1.6 trillion in spending with money that we don’t have in just the normal operating of the government.

On the Biden tax plan

Greta Van Susteren:

The corporate tax rate when President Trump first came into office was 35%. It was lowered down to 21%. Now, President Biden has suggested bringing it up to 28% … If it is raised at 28%, is that going to help us significantly, our revenue issues, or is it going to hurt business? Where do you stand on that?

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman

I think it will hurt. What we did with the corporate tax rate was reduce it back to about the midpoint. We were about at 21%, we were about average with the countries we compete with. Many of them, by the way, realize that they’re having a lower rate was really helpful to them.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman

They’ve reduced their rate in the last four years. We’re probably a little above average right now, but if we went to 28%, I think we’d be the second highest corporate tax in the world.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman

More jobs are more important than higher corporate taxes, and higher corporate taxes don’t produce more jobs.

On moderate Dems

Greta Van Susteren

You’ve got Senator Manchin, a Democrat, who has rejected raising the corporate tax rates so far. He’s also rejected the infrastructure bill and with the Senate split as it is, that unless President Biden gets a little more negotiated, he’s not going to get another Republican. He’s got to get Senator Manchin, right?

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman

Well, you’d have to ask them that for sure, but certainly Senator Manchin’s comments, both comments he’s made to me personally, and he’s made often publicly would indicate that. Senator Sinema, another member of the Senate, who doesn’t want to change the structure of the Senate to where you don’t have to have a minority buy-in to move forward.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman

And I think there are others on that side of the aisle who don’t want to destroy the character of the Senate, because before you know it, your side’s likely to be in the minority and suddenly things you thought were such a great idea when you were in charge, you think are incredibly unfair when the other side’s in charge.

Heather Boushey Highlights

On the Biden infrastructure bill

Heather Boushey, White House Economic Adviser

This plan, as it was presented to the American people, is actually quite popular. Recent polling shows that 73% of Americans think that this is a good plan, including 57% of Republicans.

Heather Boushey, White House Economic Adviser

Every family needs access to broadband, something we all learned in 2020. Every family needs access to safe drinking water. We all need access to good transport systems and we all need access to a power grid that doesn’t just stop working because the weather changes. So, we know that these are all absolutely critical investments.

Heather Boushey, White House Economic Adviser

The American people who are engaged in this debate, in this conversation, we need to listen to them and their needs as well. I mean, I can tell you, as someone who used to run a non-profit, essentially a small business, that those challenges that my workers faced on the care side, that affected their productivity. It affected our workplace. Dealing with these and making sure that that care infrastructure is there is a core part of our economy that helps not just families, but businesses as well.

On the Biden tax plan

Heather Boushey, White House Economic Adviser

Alongside the launch of the President’s Jobs Plan, he has this Made in America tax plan, which would fix the distortions that we’ve seen in our corporate tax code, and provide new reforms that encourage American firms to invest her in the United States, discourage profit shifting, and making sure that every company pays their fair share. It’s focused on the values of rewarding work and not wealth.

Heather Boushey, White House Economic Adviser

The full plan that the President put forth raises about $2 trillion over the next 15 years. And let me be very clear: There’s now solid research evidence looking at what happened after the tax reforms of 2017 and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. And what they show is that did not lead to the kinds of increases and investment that the American people were promised. And because it didn’t lead to investment, it did not lead to the kinds of wage gains that the American people were promised. And so, I think we tend to think sometimes that if you lower taxes, that that’ll lead to these positive economic outcomes, but that’s not what we saw after the 2017 tax changes.

On a global tax rate

Heather Boushey, White House Economic Adviser

For decades now we’ve had this race to the bottom where one country lowers its taxes or creates these tax havens. What that means is is that every country is then stripped off the resources they need to make the investments they need in their communities, in their countries. And so, by coming together and saying, “Hey, let’s stop this race to the bottom. Let’s have a sane system so that we can all have the revenue we need to do what we need for our nation’s peoples.” That is the goal and it has this two-part plan, both on the international side as well as making sure that we increase and have the same reforms to our corporate tax system.

On corporations not paying their fair share in taxes

Heather Boushey, White House Economic Adviser

So, these large firms, they pay no taxes, are doing so through shifting money around. Maybe shifting money overseas. Taking the advantage of ways that they can rig the tax code to make it work for them, but that doesn’t work for the American people. And it’s not fair. And so, the Made in America tax plan that the President has put out would go a long way towards trying to fix that to making sure that every firm paid a minimum tax.

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About Greta Van Susteren:

Greta Van Susteren is the Chief Political Analyst for Gray Media and host of Full Court Press. Ms. Van Susteren is a veteran of Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and CNN. Her prime-time Fox News Channel Show, “On the Record,” was number 1 in its time slot for 14 1⁄2 years. Before joining Fox News, she hosted CNN’s prime-time news and analysis program, “The Point with Greta Van Susteren,” and co-hosted the network’s daily legal analysis show, “Burden of Proof.” Her legal analysis for CNN’s coverage of Election 2000 earned her the American Bar Association’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Journalism. She continues to host the weekly 30-minute program “Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren” on Voice of America, which broadcasts exclusively outside of the United States.

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