By Shawn Stinson
One of West Virginia’s senators stood as the obstacle blocking Washington lawmakers from introducing a new spending package.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D) announced on July 27 that he and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have agreed to send the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 to a vote. The pair said the act would “address record inflation by paying down our national debt, lowering energy costs and lowering health care costs.
“Over the last year, leaders in Washington have ignored repeated warnings about the severe threat of inflation and the consequences of unprecedented domestic spending,” Manchin said in a press release. “Despite these concerns and my calls to give the country time to fully realize the impacts of such historic levels of spending and our inflation crisis, many Democrats have continued to push for trillions more in spending to meet a political deadline. As difficult as it is for some to hear, political calls to action that ignore the severity of the crises we face and will continue to face are a recipe for national disaster.
“We must be honest about the economic reality America now faces if we want to avoid fanning the flames of inflation. At its core, the purpose of reconciliation is to get our economic and financial house in order. Contrary to foolish talk otherwise, America cannot spend its way out of debt or out of inflation. With respect to my position, I have never and will never walk away from solving the problems facing the nation we all love. I strongly support the passage of commonsense policies that reduce inflation and focus on the major challenges confronting America today and in the future.”
According to Senate Democrats, the bill would generate nearly $740 billion in revenue in a 10-year period. They said the act would bring in $313 billion by raising the corporate minimum tax to 15% for businesses worth more than $1 billion, another $288 billion by allowing Medicare officials to negotiate prescription drug prices, $124 billion by enforcing existing tax codes and $14 billion by closing the carried interest loophole.
Senate Democrats added the bill would invest nearly $369 billion in energy security and climate change efforts and $64 billion in Affordable Care Act subsidies. The remaining funds would be dedicated to lowering the federal deficit.
The legislation would limit out-of-pocket costs to Medicare patients to $2,000. The subsidies for the ACA would be extended through 2025. Federal officials estimate nearly 23,000 West Virginians would have higher insurance premiums if lawmakers do not extend the subsidies. The plan includes a permanent extension of funds for the black lung disability trust fund. Previously, lawmakers failed to renew an excise tax on American coal during last year’s session.
“It is past time for America to begin paying down our $30 trillion national debt and get serious about the record inflation that is crushing the wages of American workers,” Manchin said. “In practical terms, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 would dedicate hundreds of billions of dollars to deficit reduction by adopting a tax policy that protects small businesses and working-class Americans while ensuring that large corporations and the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share in taxes.”
West Virginia’s other senator, Shelly Moore Capito (R), disagreed with her colleague and called it a plan “to spend more and tax more.”
“Honestly, it’s inexplicable to me now in a time of high inflation, recessionary times that are directly attributed to the overspending the Democrats did last year, that they would even entertain flooding again, more federal dollars into the system,” Capito said. “It’s just inexplicable and I think it will just fuel this fire of inflation even more.”
Manchin touted the bill includes investments to reduce dependence on foreign energy and focus on renewable energy. He said it would “allow us to decarbonize while ensuring American energy is affordable, reliable, clean and secure.” The funding would be target to new technologies for multiple fuel types and energy storage with the focus to reduce carbon emissions by approximately 40% by 2030.
“Our persistent and increasing dependence on foreign energy and supply chains from countries who hate America represents a clear and present danger and it must end,” Manchin said. “The increased risk of geopolitical uncertainty demands that we turn our focus to increasing U.S. energy production and bringing good paying energy and manufacturing jobs back to America. While this may seem like commonsense, this Administration’s current solution is to push forward more costly regulations resulting in less U.S. production while inexplicably asking other nations to pump more oil and relying on Chinese President Xi for the critical minerals our economy needs.
“Let me make it clear, I will not vote to support policies that make the United States more dependent on foreign energy and supply chains or risk moving the country closer to the unstable and vulnerable European model of energy we are witnessing today. Most importantly, I am heartened by the bipartisan recognition that for America to achieve our energy and climate goals, it is critical we reform the broken permitting process. President Biden, Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi have committed to advancing a suite of commonsense permitting reforms this fall that will ensure all energy infrastructure, from transmission to pipelines and export facilities, can be efficiently and responsibly built to deliver energy safely around the country and to our allies.”