coal baron Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer put out a joint statement on Wednesday announcing they had come to terms on a deal to spend hundreds of billions on climate and energy programs, reduce prescription drug prices, and raise taxes on the wealthiest while shrinking the federal deficit.
California Congressman Ro Khanna reportedly kept the lines of communication open but nobody, not even the vaunted Capitol Hill press corps seemed to have had an inkling prior to yesterday’s bombshell announcement.
Until now, Manchin with his coal-dependent fortune had been thorn in any attempt to advance policies addressing climate change in the Senate even with Democrats control both Congress and the presidency.
Contrary to conservatives in most other developed and developing countries, our elected Republicans have en-masse, and in dedication to fake science, refused any action to endorse any policies to mitigate global warming.
Progressives and many others will be on tenterhooks until the House and Senate actually pass a strong bill incorporating the tenets set forth in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and have it signed into law by the President.
Not having read the 700-odd pages, the following is culled from various sources on components contained in the Act:
- tax credits to speed up the development of wind, solar, hydrogen and nuclear power, including one to reduce the price of new electric vehicles
- brings back many of the best of the sustainable agriculture provisions in Biden’s original Build Back Better bill
- investing in cleaner energy aimed at cutting American carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030 including targeted funding to relieve the disproportionate burden of pollution on low-income communities and communities of color
- financing for climate change solutions through subsidies, credits and guarantees which will unlock billions more in private capital for projects that will provide a significant economic boost when the country needs it the most, and for years to com
- grants Medicare permission to negotiate lower prices on pharmaceuticals
- beefs up tax enforcement including phasing in new AI tech to help identify cheaters; just knowing the IRS will have the funds and personnel to pursue miscreants will help reduce fraudulent filings, especially by those wealthy enough to buy tax lawyers
- closes the carried interest loophole that has allowed the ultra-rich of hedge funds and private equity funds to pay 20% on their millions instead of the (still too low) 37% their tax bracket dictates – a real win for the foes of inequity
- places a 15% tax floor on companies with profits of more than a billion a year – think Amazon and Big Oil – that maneuver their way down to paying virtually nothing even though the corporate tax rate is supposed to be 21%, a corporate version of the alternative minimum tax middle income taxpayers have come to hate
It’s not the quick fix many green-leaning progressives would hope for but it’s a major step on the way. To wean America off fossil fuels will take time as well as money and incremental steps that won’t make too many suffer in the short term are essential for a just transition.
The numbers as they stand are pretty staggering as are shown in this chart, from a Ryan Grim post:
Yes, everyone will find something wrong with the Act but at the same time, it has something for everyone. The time to act is now.
With Schumer is calling to bring this to the Senate floor next Wednesday, there’s not a lot of time to act, including for the fossil fuel, financial and pharmaceutical companies to mobilize their legions of lobbyists.
Right now, everyone needs to call their Senators in all their offices to remind them that they report to you, not Jeff Bezos and not to the lords of Big Oil and Big Pharma.
Continue by calling anyone you know in Arizona to lean on Kyrsten Sinema who now has the power to make or break this deal. Remember, she started her political career in the Arizona Green Party and although she does not face an election this fall, she will in 2024.
Although she has been in the pocket of Big Pharma for the past few years and a thorn in the side of all progressive and most Democratic legislation, her early career was as a social worker and she taught at the Arizona State University School of Social Work. People should appeal to her good angel and hope that the pitchfork side drives her selfish interest in keeping her seat.
This is also an opportunity to double down on individual Republicans, both House and Senate, to break from the pack and actually act on behalf of their constituents, setting themselves up for re-election.
Now is the time to really double down on bird-dogging on every single one of our elected officials to pass this Act swiftly.
This would not only be the defining moment of Biden’s presidency but also the get-out-of-jail-free card that America needs to get back on the path to be great again.
* * *
Speaking of the One that Was, on the same day (July 27) as the release of this Act, Norman Lear celebrated his 100th birthday with a New York Times opinion piece.
Archie Bunker, arguably his most memorable TV character, “probably would have been a Trump voter.” However Lear continues the “sight of the American flag being used to attack Capitol Police would have sickened him,” and “I hope that the resolve shown by Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, and their commitment to exposing the truth, would have won his respect.”
Over 40 years ago, Lear founded People for the American Way to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values like free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.
Now it’s up to us to that right to push for change.
(Liz Amsden is a contributor to CityWatch and an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.)