Hillary Clinton’s brightening White House prospects have cleared a path for her to pursue a $275 billion infrastructure plan that would be paid for by corporate tax-law changes, a central part of a broad agenda that has been overshadowed by her attacks on Republican rival Donald Trump.
The rising likelihood of a Clinton presidency also augurs new influence for liberals in financial regulation, a strong push to expand workplace policies including paid medical and family leave, and efforts to fix Obamacare. If enacted, the proposals would ripple across the economy, affecting companies including Apple, Google and Microsoft.
Yet her plans have received little attention in a 2016 race that’s largely been a referendum on Trump’s qualifications, particularly after allegations that the billionaire businessman made unwanted sexual advances toward women. Polls indicate the outcome is in little doubt: The election prognostication website FiveThirtyEight on Monday assessed an 86 percent chance of a Clinton victory.
Clinton says on her website that in her first 100 days as president she’ll seek approval of the “biggest investment in American infrastructure in decades,” creating tens of thousands of jobs. Gene Sperling, a Clinton economic adviser, said at a forum this month that a $275 billion infrastructure plan would be among her top three domestic priorities.
President Obama proposed an infrastructure plan, financed by a one-time tax on the profits of U.S. multinational corporations repatriated from overseas, that failed because congressional Republicans insisted on a U.S. corporate tax overhaul. While House Speaker Paul Ryan still seeks a broader tax deal, Republicans might be more willing to consider a piecemeal approach after a bruising Election Day loss.
Many of the policy shifts Clinton will attempt as president depend on the results of congressional elections, fights within both parties, and Clinton’s ability to influence lawmakers. But the parameters of the looming legislative battles are clear.
Should Republicans retain control of at least one chamber of Congress, the infrastructure bill is a likelier win for the new president than the other two priorities that Sperling said lead Clinton’s agenda: a comprehensive immigration overhaul and changes to strengthen the Affordable Care Act. Sperling and other Democrats say Republicans may be willing to make deals on those issues as well if they lose badly at the polls.
Clinton has said she would finance infrastructure spending through unspecified “business tax reform.” Incoming Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said on CNBC last week that the money would come from a lower tax rate on profits stashed overseas by U.S. corporations. Other Democrats close to the Clinton camp said they anticipate she would adopt the Schumer approach.
The lower tax rate would produce a one-time bonanza as companies brought home an estimated $2.5 trillion stockpiled abroad.
Liberals in Clinton’s party would likely chafe at tax cuts solely benefiting multinational corporations, probably requiring the deal be sweetened for low- and middle-income families, a Democrat close to the Clinton camp said. The person asked not to be identified to candidly discuss Clinton’s likely legislative strategy.
Republican congressional leaders, particularly Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have said that broader business tax cuts should be included in a repatriation of overseas profits. Ryan and his party have pushed for a more comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. tax code that would include the largest cut in corporate tax rates in history.
Should Republicans hold the House of Representatives, a deal with Clinton on an infrastructure bill is unlikely, one Republican leadership aide said. In the last year, Obama has signed laws authorizing new spending for highways and airports, and a bill for water projects is expected to become law after the election, reducing the appetite for a large infrastructure plan, the person said.