The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Budget
Youtube Screenshot

Environmental groups are hailing the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as a desperately needed step to address catastrophic climate change. On Friday, three former Environmental Protection Agency administrators who served under Republican and Democratic presidents put out a joint statement in support of the bill.

The bill would cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030, according to environmental advocacy groups. That figure comes close to the Biden administration's goal of cutting greenhouse gases 50 percent by 2030.

The act would "be a huge step forward in the fight to preserve a livable planet and is one we need to take while we have the chance," according to the environmental law organization Earthjustice.

"We urge the Senate to move swiftly to pass the climate measures in the Inflation Reduction Act — and for the House to follow soon after — so we can keep building toward a more sustainable future," Kris Kuzdas of the Water for Arizona Coalition said in a press release on Wednesday.

The $739 billion legislation is the result of an unexpected agreement between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). On Thursday, the last Democratic holdout, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), said she would support the bill, allowing it to move forward with the votes of every Senate Democrat and no Senate Republicans.

The bill contains key climate provisions. These include multiple investments geared towards decarbonization. In the electric sector, the bill includes some $30 billion in the form of grants and loans for states and utilities to invest in renewables and clean energy.

The bill would also provide tax credits through 2033 for residential solar and geothermal heat pumps, solar investment, wind production, and offshore wind farms.

In transportation, the bill provides up to $4,000 in consumer tax credits for low- and middle-income individuals to purchase used electric vehicles and up to $7,500 for new electric vehicles.

The bill allocates $4.5 billion in rebates for home electrification for low- and middle-income households and allocates a further $4 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development for affordable housing.

Further provisions address cleaning up legacy pollution, some $30 billion in environmental and climate justice block grants to disadvantaged communities, a $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, and resources for public lands and waters.

This winter, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its most dire warning to the planet:

To avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure, ambitious, accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change, at the same time as making rapid, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. So far, progress on adaptation is uneven and there are increasing gaps between action taken and what is needed to deal with the increasing risks.

This summer may be the hottest in United States history, according to one metric. The Southwest is struggling with the worst "megadrought" in 1,200 years. Texas is on track for the hottest summer it has ever recorded, threatening to break the 2011 record with more than 90 days above 100 degrees. Last week, dozens of people in St. Louis and Eastern Kentucky were killed as the region saw not one but two 1-in-1,000-year floods.

Arizona is already experiencing dramatically higher temperatures and more humidity. Phoenix was ranked by one study as the second fastest-warming city in the U.S. By 2050, the likelihood of severe summer droughts is expected to triple, and electricity bills will likely increase significantly as residents struggle to stay cool.

Some environmental groups say the Inflation Reduction Act doesn't go far enough to fight the devastating effects of climate change, citing the bill's provisions for new oil and gas leases.

"The deal is indeed a compromise," Earthjustice says in its press release, "that includes objectionable handouts to the fossil fuel industry."

However, on balance, the group says that the bill "would lower barriers to solar access, create good paying jobs, invest in underserved and overburdened communities, and put the country closer to achieving our climate targets."

Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon chapter of the Sierra Club, said the bill is flawed but still necessary.

"We need the tools in this bill to better ensure resiliency in frontline communities, to help clean up our air, and to provide jobs with these clean energy investments," Bahr told the American Independent Foundation. "This is not a perfect bill. There are some significant negative aspects including the harmful oil and gas leasing provisions. On balance, we think it is important that the good in this bill move forward."

The bill, while appearing to have total support from the Senate Democrats, still faces hurdles in the budget reconciliation process — a strategy for avoiding the filibuster. Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said Republicans planned to vote on amendments that would make the bill less appealing to Democrats.

"This bill shouldn't pass and become law," Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) said. "It's going to cause a lot of pain for the American people."

More than 1,000 amendments were filed the last time the Senate passed legislation like this through reconciliation, according to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).

Schumer has said that the Senate will likely start voting on the bill on Saturday, with a House vote expected next week.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Sen. Joe Manchin

Youtube Screenshot

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Wednesday they had struck a deal on portions of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. Their proposal would fight inflation by reducing the federal budget deficit through tax increases on big corporations and lowered health care costs, while making a historic investment in clean energy. The Senate reportedly plans to vote on the bill, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, next week.

Fox News hates this bill. The network’s propagandists and their GOP guests were clearly reeling from the surprise announcement that Manchin had reached an agreement after repeatedly putting negotiations on ice. But even on short notice, they came up with a slew of reasons — at times contradictory — to oppose the nascent legislation.

The Inflation Reduction Act has fewer focuses than past Democratic proposals, making it relatively easy to explain.

But Fox, as usual, isn’t really interested in explaining the bill; it’s interested in ensuring that the network's viewers oppose it.

Fox: Tax Provisions Are Bad, Spending Is Bad, Deficit Reduction Goes Unmentioned

The Inflation Reduction Act would reduce inflation by cutting the federal budget deficit by more than $300 billion over 10 years. Fox’s right-wing personalities have spent months harping on how Americans are paying more for everything due to increased inflation, and they traditionally complain about federal debt and deficits. But of course, this is a bill proposed by Democrats, so for Fox, they must be fighting inflation and reducing deficits the wrong way — in this case, by raising taxes on the wealthy and big corporations rather than cutting unnamed spending.

The bill would raise revenue by setting a 15% tax floor for corporations with profits exceeding $1 billion a year, boosting IRS tax enforcement, and narrowing the “carried interest” loophole that lets hedge fund and private equity employees pay lower tax rates. A Senate fact sheet notes that it includes “no new taxes on families making $400,000 or less and no new taxes on small businesses.”

On Fox, hosts and guests are standing up for big corporations that prefer not to pay taxes, tax cheats, and money managers.

On Wednesday night, Sean Hannity claimed that “Democrats are once again lying to you, trying to claim their socialist spending bonanza will reduce inflation. Let me be clear: It will do the opposite. It is one big Democratic tax hike.” He focused in particular on the IRS enforcement funding, which he said means “you'll all get the Hannity treatment,” and repeatedly said that corporate tax hikes would simply be passed on to “we, the people, the consumer.”

Later, Laura Ingraham likewise panned the bill as a “spendorama,” while her guest, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), criticized it for spending “hundreds of billions of dollars more to sic the IRS on hardworking American families. It's only going to drive up inflation more and cost people their jobs.” Ingraham concluded, “This is an inflation explosion act, not reduction act."

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), meanwhile, responding to the deal on Jesse Watters Primetime, said the problem with the bill wasn’t that it would cause inflation but that it would be “pushing us over the edge into a major recession,” calling it “very risky and very dangerous to raise taxes.”

None of those programs’ hosts mentioned that the bill would reduce the deficit by $300 billion.

Fox: Climate Provisions Are Bad

Global reliance on fossil fuels has increased carbon emissions, resulting in shattered temperature records and deadly extreme weather events. To try to reduce these dangerous consequences, the bill makes unprecedented investments in clean energy, with $369 billion in spending over the next decade that Senate Democrats say will reduce emissions by 40% by 2030. The bill offers consumers tax credits for making homes more energy-efficient and buying clean-energy vehicles, increases energy security by supporting domestic solar and wind power, and provides money for states and utilities to transition to cleaner energy sources, among other provisions.

To Hannity, this is all summarized as “nearly $400 billion for what they're calling energy security and climate change which is code for climate change cult alarmism,” while Ingraham just sneered that the legislation is “a climate change bill.”

Fox: Joe Manchin Is Bad

Fox and its allies were counting on Manchin to scuttle Biden’s economic agenda, and they are extremely unhappy that the senator instead made a deal.

Hannity claimed Manchin “just gave in to the radical climate alarmist cult, new green deal cult,” and said “his deal is going to hurt the people specifically in his state of West Virginia and hurt them dramatically.”

He later frothed, “breaking tonight in Washington, Sen. Joe Manchin, he has made a sudden reversal. He went to build back broke, says he will now support the Biden-backed green new deal socialist bill on climate.”

Ingraham panned the “Manchin betrayal of the voters of West Virginia,” while Cotton alleged that the senator had signed “probably the longest suicide note in the history of West Virginia.”

“Joe Manchin, we are disappointed in you as my parents said to me often as a child,” Jesse Watters quipped.

They stayed mad on Thursday morning.


Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.