Maryland Governor Larry Hogan leads a news conference after convening a bipartisan group of governors, U.S. senators, and members of the Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus for an ‘infrastructure summit’ at the Government House in Annapolis, Maryland, U.S. April 23, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Gov. Larry Hogan, R-Md., advocated Monday for a more narrowly focused infrastructure plan that cuts huge chunks out of the massive $2 trillion proposal put forward by President Joe Biden.
Hogan, speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” also criticized the next phase of Biden’s sweeping economic recovery plan, which is expected to be unveiled this week and will reportedly include tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans.
“We should separate out all of this other family infrastructure they’re talking about and all these massive tax hikes on the rich and on corporations,” Hogan said.
Hogan, who hosted a two-day infrastructure summit last week with a bipartisan group of governors and lawmakers, said that “rebuilding America’s infrastructure is a critical issue that we all agree on, and we all think it should be a bipartisan effort.”
“We can agree on finding that middle ground,” Hogan said, but “the second set of things that the president is apparently going to unveil for the first time on Wednesday is really not – has nothing to do with infrastructure, and most of us think it should be handled separately.”
Hogan has become a prominent figure in the Republican Party, largely due to his criticism of former President Donald Trump, and has not ruled out running for the White House himself in 2024.
Hogan’s comments came a day after Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat whose more conservative views give him outsize influence in the politically divided Senate, issued his own call for a more targeted approach to infrastructure.
“I do think they should be separated, because, when you start putting so much into one bill, which we call an omnibus bill, makes it very, very difficult for the public to understand,” Manchin said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Manchin, one of the 27 political leaders who attended Hogan’s summit in Annapolis, Maryland, also praised a GOP-backed counteroffer on infrastructure, which is less than one-third the size of Biden’s plan and excludes key items.
Meanwhile, Biden’s infrastructure proposal is so far popular among Americans, according to a recent NBC News poll. The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 59% said the plan is a good idea, while 21% disagreed and 19% did not have an opinion. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Hogan on CNBC said the first step in the negotiations between parties involves agreeing on a definition of infrastructure. “There’s a $1.6 trillion difference between what the Republicans have proposed and what the Democrats have proposed,” he said. “That’s really the main sticking point.”
Asked how much he believes will ultimately be spent on infrastructure, Hogan said he would guess at somewhere between $900 billion and $1.1 trillion — about half the size of what the Biden administration is currently pushing for.
But the second part of the White House’s plan to overhaul the U.S. economy is expected to come with at least a $1 trillion price tag. The proposal, which has yet to be revealed, could also include $500 billion in tax credits, a source told CNBC last week.
Hogan said all the attendees at his summit agreed with Manchin that lawmakers should focus just on a straightforward plan to address infrastructure. That includes not just roads and bridges but also “digital infrastructure and green energy and the grid,” he said, adding, “we can agree on finding that middle ground.”
But asked about the next phase of the plan and whether its reported tax hikes are punitive, revenue-losing propositions, Hogan said they were.
“We should separate out all of this other family infrastructure they’re talking about and all these massive tax hikes on the rich and on corporations, set that aside for a later debate while we focus on infrastructure, which is something that Republicans and Democrats do agree on and where we can find common ground and get it done,” he said.
“There’s trillions of dollars of private-sector capital willing to invest in infrastructure, so it’s not just about taxing folks,” the governor said. “It’s not just about raising the capital gains tax and taxing the rich.”