Our take: Democrats’ bill makes big gains on climate, prescription drugs
Entering the 13th of 15 hours of what was jovially dubbed “vote-a-rama” in DC last weekend, Senator Bernie Sanders was pictured draped in a slice of shadow on the steps outside the Capitol.
Although Sanders himself expressed his dissatisfaction with the reduced scope of the bill passed, the senator from Vermont found himself in the minority. Sanders went back inside and ultimately voted yes, backing passage of the 755-page $740 billion Inflation Cut Act, a historic legislative victory celebrated by most of his fellow Democrats.
The landmark climate, health care and tax-focused package, a stripped-down version of Democrats’ Build Back Better bid last year, passed 51 to 50 in the Senate, the deciding vote cast by the Vice President Kamala Harris. He goes to the Chamber, which he should clean by the end of the week.
Our Take: Congress Gets Its Last, Best Chance to Drive Meaningful Climate Action
It is true that this budget reconciliation bill started out as something much bigger. But the agreement – wide-ranging and indeed “signature” even in its reduced form – offers unprecedented tax incentives for reducing carbon emissions; opens the door for Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs; extends health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act for three years; earmarks a major cash injection for the beleaguered IRS and caps seniors’ out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs at $2,000 a year.
The climate portion of the bill represents the most significant environmental action the United States has ever prepared to take. In the wake of devastating floods, dried up river basins and even the record heat Mainers have battled with this summer, an estimated $370 billion is being set aside for climate change mitigation. According to one estimate, the deal has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas pollution to levels 40% below 2005 levels by 2030. The investment will give America new environmental credibility on the world stage. The bill finally triggers the country’s transition to renewable energies.
On top of that, the bill will pay for itself. Revenues are boosted by a new 15% minimum corporate tax (raising over $300 billion alone), prescription drug pricing reform, a new 1% excise tax on drug buybacks popular corporate stocks and increased tax enforcement by a better resourced IRS. . The package only raises taxes for people earning more than $400,000 a year.
Our view: Senator King is correct; the taxman is on the wrong tree with his audits
Those who celebrate are right to celebrate.
For the bill to defy expectations and pass the Senate, the compromise was in the painstaking negotiations — heavily in places. Concessions have been made on fossil fuels, for example, that directly affect the pipeline projects in the state of West Virginia of Senator Joe Manchin, who generously donated to him. Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema also insisted on scrapping a proposal that would have limited investment income paid to financial executives before her vote could help the bill cross the line.
But that’s the point: Bill crossed the line. It provides America with a foundation for a better economic and environmental future and proves that, despite false starts, meaningful progress is achievable.