Joe Biden announced that rich Americans earning over $10 million face paying an extra five per cent in tax as he staked his struggling presidency on a scaled back spending plan.
Mr Biden said his presidency was on the line as he outlined a $1.75 trillion expansion of the social safety net to be funded by raising taxes on the wealthy and big companies.
But the US president abandoned plans for a “billionaire tax,” which would have seen America's 745 billionaires pay 23.8 per cent on the value of their unsold shares.
Instead, he targeted individuals earning $10 million or more with the five per cent extra tax, rising to eight per cent for those with incomes of over $25 million.
His plan was similar to the “wealth tax” proposed by left-wing senator Elizabeth Warren last year, which was rejected at the time as too radical by many Democrats, including Mr Biden.
The president's plan also included a minimum tax rate of 15 per cent on profits for companies who report over $1 billion in profit to shareholders, and a one per cent surcharge on share buybacks.
However, tax cuts introduced by Donald Trump in 2017 were to remain largely in place.
Defending the raid on millionaires a White House official said it would only affect the richest 0.02 per cent.
The official said: “The plan is fully paid for by asking more from the very largest corporations and the wealthiest Americans.”
Mr Biden's new $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan amounted to only half his original proposal of $3.5 trillion.
He abandoned campaign pledges including providing for paid family leave and free community college tuition.
The revised plan included $555 billion in climate change initiatives, which the White House called “historic” and the “largest effort to combat climate change in American history.”
Mr Biden delayed by several hours his departure for Europe, where he is attending the G20 summit in Rome and Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow.
He spent that time in Congress addressing Democrats as he sought support for the new plan.
His own party has bickered for months over the scale of his agenda, and how to pay for it
Mr Biden told them: “I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the House and Senate majorities, and my presidency, will be determined by what happens in the next week.”
Later, in a speech to the American people, he said: “No one got everything they wanted, including me.”
Mr Biden appeared confident all Democrats would agree to his plan.
He said: “It's a good day. Everybody's on board. I think we’re going to be in good shape.”
Opposition to his original $3.5 trillion proposal had been led by two moderate Democrat senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
Ms Sinema objected to reversing Mr Trump's tax cuts, which would have meant raising the top rate of income tax from 37 per cent back up to 39.6 per cent.
Her opposition led to the tax raid on millionaires instead.
Mr Biden's plan would have to pass the Senate, in which Democrats hold the narrowest possible majority.
The chamber is split 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris holding a casting vote.
That means Mr Biden requires the support of every Democrat senator, including Mr Manchin and Ms Sinema.
Comparing the plan to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, Ron Klain, Mr Biden's chief of staff, said: “It's twice as big, in real dollars, as the New Deal was. Biden is pursuing a New Deal agenda.”Internet Explorer Channel Network