Biden expresses confidence he can get Democratic support for a tax hike on Americans earning above $400,000


President Joe Biden said he is confident he can enact a large federal tax hike on some Americans with only Democratic support. It signals he may be ready to press ahead without Republican support in Congress.

In an ABC News interview airing Wednesday, the president pledged to raise taxes on Americans earning above $400,000 annually, saying it would be a "small to significant tax increase."

He also conceded he may not attract any Republican support for a federal tax hike. "Oh, I may not get it," he said.

He added: "But I'll get the Democratic votes for a tax increase."

Biden's comments come a day after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the concept of Republicans signing onto a tax hike to help fund new federal programs. He said he believed the plan would act as a "Trojan horse" for Democrats to enact many of their long-sought policy goals.

"My suspicion is they will try to jam everything they can into that bill and call it an infrastructure bill, just like they tried to call the bill a couple of weeks ago a COVID bill," he said at a weekly press conference.

Congressional Democrats and the White House are in the early stages of assembling multitrillion dollar infrastructure bill. A possible methods to finance it include a tax hike on the richest Americans. Biden campaigned on bumping the top income individual tax rate from 37% to 39.6% on Americans making above $400,000.

Some progressives have been pushing for a tax on the ultra-wealthy

While Biden's tax plan targets high-earners, it's not quite Sen. Elizabeth Warren's Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act. Under Warren's plan — introduced alongside several progressives — households with a net worth of $50 million to $1 billion would see a 2% tax; those with a net worth above $1 billion would see a 3% tax.

But there's been mixed messages from the Biden administration on whether a wealth tax could be reality. Over the weekend, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said it was something "we haven't decided yet, and can look at." She also noted that Biden had put forth some alternatives, like higher taxes on individuals and corporations, that would have a similar impact. 

Still, Yellen's comments struck a different note than her prior messaging on the wealth tax. She had previously said it was something she wasn't planning on, citing implementation issues, and had said that while it had been discussed with Biden, he didn't favor it.

In a press briefing on Monday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki was questioned about Yellen's remarks on the wealth tax.

"I know Sen. Warren has put forward a wealth tax, and the president shares her view that middle-class families are paying more than their fair share and those at the top are not doing their part, so certainly he has that shared objective," Psaki said. "He laid out during the campaign his own plans for fixing this, which are different from Sen. Warren's."

Psaki had said that, when it comes to Warren's proposed wealth tax, it'll ultimately come down to "democracy in action," and she's certain that the two will address it.

"When it's the appropriate time I'm sure they'll discuss — and he will discuss with others — what their views are of how to address this moving forward," she said.