January 27, 2023

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks to reporters after making remarks at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware ahead of the December 22nd, 2020 holiday.

Alex Edelman | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden’s allies in the business world have met to come up with a number of proposals, including a potential carbon tax to help fund an expected $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan.

One of those efforts, which began immediately after Biden was named election winner in late November, is led by longtime ally Biden and New York business leader Dennis Mehiel along with former Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, according to one person with direct knowledge of the matter .

Mehiel and Liveris have reached out to business leaders across the country to discuss how they believe the Biden administration and Congress could advance funding mechanisms for such a large-scale proposal, the person noted.

The plan is expected to come together after a few months while Biden focuses on the Covid-19 pandemic and economic relief.

Talks with various teams are expected to continue in the coming weeks. Some of the ideas are to be brought to the Biden administration officials and congressional leaders. Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., A confidante of Biden, was also on some of the calls, said the person.

The people on the calls discussed several ideas to pay for the plan, including a carbon tax, the person said.

A carbon tax is a “charge for burning carbon-based fuels (coal, oil, gas),” according to the Carbon Tax Center. “Policymakers could use the resulting revenue to offset these effects, cut taxes for individuals and businesses, reduce budget deficits, invest in clean energy and climate adaptation, or for other purposes,” according to the Tax Policy Center.

The idea of ​​a carbon tax previously emerged in the Obama and Trump administrations.

Reuters reported in 2017 that Republican officials went to Trump with the idea of ​​a carbon tax and the White House later pushed that concept back.

Brian Deese, who also served as an advisor under Obama before becoming Biden’s director of the National Economic Council, reportedly said in 2016 that carbon tax would not be levied under that administration due to the congressional deadlock.

This time around, however, the dynamic in Congress is different: the Democrats have a small advantage in the Senate after winning the Georgia runoff, and Vice President Kamala Harris is acting as a tiebreaker.

Biden’s plan is not only pushing for large-scale modernizations of bridges and roads, it is also heavily focused on clean energy technologies.

“Biden’s proposal will ensure that national infrastructure and clean energy investments create millions of middle-class jobs that develop a diverse and local workforce and empower communities as we rebuild our physical infrastructure,” the campaign’s plan reads.

Mehiel declined to comment. Liveris and Coons did not respond to requests for comment.

Liveris also chaired former President Donald Trump’s production council before it was disbanded after Trump criticized the deadly violence of white supremacists in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Despite Trump’s efforts to improve American infrastructure and his administration’s numerous attempts to focus on the matter, the former president has been unable to find a way to push a large package forward. He reportedly disagreed with his own administration regarding the structuring of the initiative.

Henry Cisneros, who was secretary for housing and urban development in the Clinton era, runs a company that identifies infrastructure goals for the Biden administration, CNBC reported on Wednesday.

In an interview with CNBC’s Shepard Smith, Cisneros said he expected the Biden government to push for a “really significant infrastructure package” in a few months.

Cisneros said he recently took part in a study that looked at how the coronavirus pandemic has changed infrastructure priorities for different cities. Those who said it changed their infrastructure priorities said they now believe they need to upgrade their broadband, transit and medical facilities.

Pete Buttigieg, former Democratic presidential candidate and ex-Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is Biden’s nominee for the Department of Transportation. The department will be responsible for implementing much of the president’s vision to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.

During his confirmation hearing on Thursday, Buttigieg said that improving infrastructure would help the economy grow.

“We need to ensure that all of our transportation systems – from aviation to public transportation to our railways, roads, ports, waterways and pipelines – are securely managed at this critical time as we work to fight the virus,” said Buttigieg.

Buttigieg himself proposed a $ 1 trillion infrastructure plan when he ran for president during the Democratic primary.