Deficit cut, billionaire tax: What is in Biden's budget?

AFP , Thursday 9 Mar 2023

US President Joe Biden's budget blueprint released Thursday proposes cutting deficits by nearly $3 trillion in the next decade along with a minimum tax on the wealthiest, an announcement seen as a build-up to his reelection pitch.

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol, Feb. 7, 2023. AP


But the proposals set up a long stand-off in Congress -- which is currently split between Democratic and Republican control -- to set and fund a budget for the government.

Here are some highlights:

Taxing wealth

The president is proposing a 25 percent minimum tax on the wealthiest 0.01 percent, or those with wealth exceeding $100 million, according to the budget proposal released Thursday.

He also seeks to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent, undoing legislation passed under his Republican predecessor Donald Trump in 2017.

The plan lifts the top capital gains tax rate for investments to 39.6 percent as well for single filers earning more than $400,000 a year.

But in general, those earning less than $400,000 annually are not to pay more in new taxes.


A core feature of Biden's proposals is a plan to raise taxes on high-earners to ensure that Medicare -- the government-funded health care system for people over 65 -- remains solvent.

The budget raises the Medicare tax from 3.8 percent to five percent for the wealthiest Americans.

The aim is to extend the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by at least 25 years, amid warnings that the program risks running out of money by 2028 without intervention.

The budget also aims to lower the cost of prescription drugs, including proposals to curb inflation in drug costs and cap the prices of insulin products at $35 for a monthly prescription.

Cutting 'wasteful spending'

The White House added Thursday that the President's budget will cut the federal deficit by nearly $3 trillion over the next decade -- up from the $2 trillion reduction Biden was earlier aiming for.

Apart from "making the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share," the aim is to slash "wasteful spending" on Big Pharma and the oil industry as well, the White House said.

The budget seeks to lower spending by raising the number of drugs Medicare can negotiate the prices of, while expanding a requirement under the Inflation Reduction Act for drug manufacturers to pay rebates when they raise prices faster than inflation.

It also looks to eliminate special tax treatment for oil and gas company investments -- saving $31 billion -- and end a tax subsidy allowing real estate investors to put off paying tax on profits from deals, as long as they keep investing in property.

Defense and security

But amid efforts to slash the deficit and support Medicare, the budget also flags continued support for Ukraine and the United States' alliance with the states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

It requests resources to "out-compete China" while looking to boost capabilities in the face of "Russian aggression."

The budget includes nearly $25 billion for US Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with funds to hire more border patrol agents and fight fentanyl trafficking.

The proposal also includes a 3.2 percent increase in defense spendings, from last year's figures.

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