By Victor Reklaitis
As President Joe Biden keeps beating the drum for his Build Back Better package, analysts are saying parts of it still have a good chance of becoming reality even after last month’s big setback.
Biden met Wednesday with 10 private-sector executives, as a White House official said the execs would “highlight what they see as the key benefits of BBB for the American economy and American business.”
General Motors /zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite GM -2.90% CEO Mary Barra, Ford /zigman2/quotes/208911460/composite F -3.33% CEO Jim Farley, Microsoft /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT +0.15% President Brad Smith, Salesforce.com /zigman2/quotes/200515854/composite CRM -1.67% CEO Marc Benioff and TIAA CEO Thasunda Brown Duckett were among the participants in the meeting. Corning /zigman2/quotes/200045496/composite GLW -0.96% CEO Wendell Weeks, HP /zigman2/quotes/203461582/composite HPQ +1.98% CEO Enrique Lores, Cummins /zigman2/quotes/208385233/composite CMI +0.78% CEO Tom Linebarger, Etsy /zigman2/quotes/202790087/composite ETSY -5.93% CEO Josh Silverman and Siemens USA /zigman2/quotes/205905025/delayed XE:SIE +2.96% /zigman2/quotes/204584405/composite SIEGY -1.38% CEO Barbara Humpton took part as well.
The gathering at the White House comes a week after Biden said he expected his social-spending and climate package probably will get broken up in order to have parts of it passed by Congress. A key moderate Democratic senator, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, said in mid-December that he couldn’t support the roughly $2 trillion package in its form at that time, ending top Democrats’ push to get it passed in 2021.
A “BBB 2.0” is likely to emerge between Feb. 18 and Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1 , said Chris Krueger, a strategist and managing director at Cowen Washington Research Group, in a note on Wednesday. Feb. 18 is a key date in Washington, D.C., because that’s when another funding measure needs to get enacted in order to avoid a partial government shutdown.
Isaac Boltansky, a director of policy research and managing director at BTIG, has offered a similar timeline as Krueger.
“With the president’s comments resetting the conversation, and the State of the Union address on March 1 expected to inject a degree of urgency, we believe Congressional Democrats will refocus on the social infrastructure package in February,” Boltansky said in a recent note.
“We expect the next few weeks on Capitol Hill to be dominated by the February 18 federal funding deadline,” he added.
The BTIG analyst also has offered the table below showing “what could conceivably be included in any final social infrastructure package.”
“We continue to see a better than 50% probability that some pieces of the BBB can become law,” said Benjamin Salisbury, director of research at Height Capital Markets, in a recent note.
“Our bias continues to be that progressives will eventually accept that they lack the votes to pass their full BBB wish-list and slash the agenda to meet the Manchin test. However, there is only the faintest of evidence for this capitulation a year into an exceedingly narrowly divided Congress,” the Height analyst added.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Biden said the U.S. faces “some real challenges,” such as high inflation.
“We’ve got to get prices in check for working people out there, and that’s why the last component of my plan is so important, and why the support of these incredible business leaders means so much,” the president said.
Linebarger, the CEO of Cummins, said the manufacture of engines can make a big effort to address climate change, but “can’t do it alone.”
“The truth is we need investments, tax credits in the Build Back Better Act for hydrogen and clean trucks will play a big role in getting all of us to invest in infrastructure and other things that we need to get this going,” Linebarger said.
Microsoft’s Smith talked up Biden’s proposals related to child care in one part of his remarks at the meeting.
“What we see is that we need to do more to help bring Americans back to work, and one of the key ingredients that we see, whether it’s for our employees or everybody’s employees, is that people can only come back to work if they have a way to take care of their children,” Smith said.