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Dems just before Congress passes the climate and health package – Orange County Register

By ALAN FRAM | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Democrats pushed their flagship climate change and health care bill into Friday’s House passage, bringing President Joe Biden to the brink of triumph over his key domestic policy goals, which the party hopes will boost its prospects in the election in the November will improve .

The tightly divided House was poised to approve the bill, which is just a shadow of the larger, more ambitious plan to supercharge environmental and social programs that Biden and his party envisioned early last year. Even so, Democrats have been thirsty to declare victory on high-profile goals such as: B. Delivering what is congressional’s largest investment yet in curbing carbon emissions, curbing drug costs and taxing big corporations, and showing they can wrest gains from a routinely deadlocked Washington that often leaves voters disillusioned.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., called the measure “another transformative law brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Democratic Party.” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., a leading progressive, said Democrats would continue to bolster child care, housing and Medicare if they win larger majorities in Congress, but “let’s celebrate this massive investment for the people today.”

Republicans were ready to take a firm stand against the law, calling it a cornucopia of lavish liberal daydreams that would increase taxes and the cost of living for families. They did the same Sunday, but Senate Democrats joined forces, using Vice President Kamala Harris’ undecided vote to get the measure through that 50-50 chamber.

“Democrats believe they can spend their way out of inflation and tax their way out of recession,” said Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo. “It will only make suffering Americans worse today.”

Biden’s original $3.5 trillion 10-year proposal also included free pre-kindergarten, paid family and medical leave, expanded Medicare benefits and relaxed immigration restrictions. That crashed after centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., said it was too costly by using the influence each Democrat has in the evenly divided Senate.

Nevertheless, the final legislation remained material. Its pillar is approximately $375 billion over 10 years to encourage industry and consumers to shift from carbon-emitting to cleaner forms of energy. That includes $4 billion to help address the catastrophic drought in the west.

Spending, tax credits and loans would support technologies such as solar panels, consumer efforts to improve household energy efficiency, emission-reducing equipment for coal and gas-fired power plants, and clean air for farms, ports and low-income communities.

Another $64 billion would help 13 million people pay for private health insurance premiums over the next three years. Medicare would be given the power to negotiate its drug costs, initially in 2026 for just 10 drugs. Out-of-pocket prescription costs for Medicare beneficiaries would be capped at $2,000 beginning in 2025, and starting next year, insulin, the costly diabetes drug, would be paid no more than $35 a month.

The law would generate about $740 billion in revenue over the decade, more than a third from state savings due to lower drug prices. More would come from higher taxes on about $1 billion worth of companies, levies on companies buying back their own stock, and stronger IRS tax revenues. About $300 billion would be left over to cover the budget deficits, a fraction of the $16 trillion total projected for the period.

Amid GOP attacks on the FBI over its court-authorized search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home for sensitive documents, Republicans have repeatedly trashed the bill’s increase in the IRS budget. It aims to collect an estimated $120 billion in unpaid taxes over the next decade, and Republicans have misleadingly claimed that the IRS will hire 87,000 agents to target average families.

Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., said Democrats would also “arm” the IRS with agents “many of whom will be trained in the use of deadly force to go after every American citizen.” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, asked Thursday on “Fox and Friends” if there would be an IRS “task force” that would come in with AK-15 rifles already loaded and ready to shoot some small businessmen.

Few IRS employees are armed, and Democrats say the $80 billion 10-year budget increase would consist of replacing waves of retirees, not just agents, and modernizing equipment. They said typical families and small businesses would not be targeted, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen this week directed the IRS “not to increase below the $400,000 threshold the proportion of small businesses or households” that would be audited.

Republicans say the law’s new corporate taxes will raise prices and worsen the nation’s struggle with its worst inflation since 1981. Although Democrats have dubbed the measure the Inflation Reduction Act, impartial analysts say it will have little noticeable impact on prices.

The GOP also says the bill would increase taxes for low- and middle-income families. An analysis by the bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation of Congress, which did not take into account the tax breaks in the Health Care and Energy bill, estimated that the corporate tax hikes would affect these taxpayers slightly but indirectly, in part due to lower stock prices and wages.

The bill limits three months during which Congress passed legislation on veterans’ benefits, the semiconductor industry, gun controls for young buyers and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the admission of Sweden and Finland to NATO. All passed with bipartisan support, suggesting Republicans are also looking to show their productive side.

It’s unclear if voters will back the Democrats after months of painfully high inflation dominating voter attention and Biden’s dangerously low popularity with the public and a steady history of midterm elections beating the White House-holding party legislation will reward.

The bill had its roots in early 2021 after Congress approved a $1.9 trillion measure against GOP opposition to combat the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Encouraged, the new president and his party took further steps.

They called their $3.5 trillion plan Build Back Better. Alongside social and environmental initiatives, she proposed rolling back Trump-era tax breaks for the wealthy and businesses and $555 billion for climate action, well above the resources in Friday’s legislation.

https://www.ocregister.com/2022/08/12/dems-near-congressional-passage-of-climate-health-package/ Dems just before Congress passes the climate and health package – Orange County Register

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