Sinema dashes Biden's hope for major tax overhaul

Biden budget calls for higher taxes on corporations, wealthy Americans

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema poured cold water this week on President Biden's renewed plan to overhaul the nation's tax code and dramatically raise rates on corporations and ultra-wealthy Americans.

Biden unveiled a budget blueprint in late March that included several tax increases that would largely be borne by Wall Street and the top sliver of U.S. households, in the form of a steeper corporate rate, a modified wealth tax and a global minimum tax. The proposal came months after his signature Build Back Better agenda collapsed when Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., withdrew his support. 


But his latest plan has already elicited skepticism from Sinema, who previously said she would not support a spending package that included tax increases on corporations and high earners – a stance that she reiterated this week. 

Kyrsten Sinema

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema questions witnesses during a Senate Aviation and Space Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill on May 14, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty / Getty Images)

"I am unwilling to support any tax policies that would put a break on that type of economic growth or stall business and personal growth for America's industries," Sinema said during a speech at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. "I retain that position. Everyone knows it. Not everyone's happy about it, but that's my position." 

The president laid out a series of tax increases, including a Billionaire Minimum Income Tax that would establish a 20% minimum tax on all U.S. households worth more than $100 million, or about 0.01% of Americans.

Under the proposal, the top sliver of U.S. households would be required to pay a tax rate of at least 20% on their full income, or the combination of wage income and whatever they made in unrealized gains. If a billionaire is not paying 20% on their income, they will owe a "top-up payment" that makes up the difference to meet the new minimum. 

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2021, in New York City.  (Timothy A. Clary-Pool/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Biden also proposed raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% as part of his budget request and pitched a global minimum tax that's designed to crack down on offshore tax havens. Synema said on Tuesday that she would once again oppose any increases to the corporate tax rate, almost certainly dooming its prospects in the 50-50 Senate.

"If conversations do start again, which I'm not sure if they will or not, I will be bringing that position back into the negotiations," she said. "You all know, the entire country knows, that I am opposed to raising the corporate income tax. That was true yesterday, that is true today." 

Other parts of Biden's proposal are also likely dead on arrival. 


Although Manchin said he is open to raising taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans to pay for roughly $550 billion in new spending, he has already rejected Biden's billionaire tax. He called the idea a "tough one," and said Americans "can't be taxed on things you don't have." 

"You might have it on paper," Manchin told Bloomberg News last month. "There are other ways for people to pay their fair share, and I think everyone should pay."