Key U.S. Business Lobby Likes Biden’s Climate Plan, Rejects Tax Hikes
(Bloomberg) -- A group representing the chief executive officers of some of the largest U.S. corporations said many businesses largely embrace President Joe Biden’s climate agenda, but reject his proposals for higher taxes on businesses.
“There is a lot in the Build Back Better Act that we support,” Joshua Bolten, who leads the Business Roundtable, told reporters Wednesday. “Of keen interest to a lot of our members are the climate provisions, which have the strong support of a lot of our members. So that has made our positioning difficult because the things we support are mixed in with the things we oppose.”
The Business Roundtable, which counts Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook, Bank of America Corp.’s Brian Moynihan and ExxonMobil Corp.’s Darren Woods among its members, is officially opposing Biden’s economic legislation because they believe the tax increases on corporations -- including a minimum tax on financial profits and higher levies on U.S. companies operating abroad -- outweigh the good in the legislation, Bolten said.
Bolten said Democrats should de-couple the climate spending from the tax increases, adding that some investments -- like many included in the $550 billion infrastructure bill for transportation and public works systems -- are worth making even if they aren’t fully offset according to congressional budget scorekeepers.
The support for parts of Biden’s economic agenda, which faces unified Republican opposition in Congress, shows the growing divide between the business community, which has historically aligned with GOP policies, and Republican politicians over some key issues. GOP lawmakers have been slow to embrace measures to combat climate change and most environment-focused issues were excluded from the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law last month.
The Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have also been at odds with Republicans on Capitol Hill as they push for an overhaul of immigration laws, citing the ability to attract workers from overseas as critical to growing their businesses.
Business groups and many Republicans have remained in lockstep over opposing higher taxes on corporations as they seek to keep former President Donald Trump’s key policy achievement of lowering the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%. Lobbyists have so far fended off a increase to the topline corporate rate, but the bill does include about $814 billion in other tax hikes on corporations, including an excise levy on stock buybacks and a global minimum tax.
Bolten said his group is working with Democrats in Congress to modify the tax portions, including tweaking the 15% minimum tax on domestic profits so that a company’s pension contributions aren’t taxed. They are also pushing lawmakers to consider changing some provisions about how losses can be used for tax purposes to benefit startup companies.
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