In an era of ugly legislative gridlock, it's easy to forget that progress isn't necessarily pretty.

Last week, Washington got blindsided by the unveiling of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. For Democrats it was a moment of spontaneous joy, while Republicans reacted with instantaneous outrage.

In brief, here's what happened. The Senate passed, on a bipartisan basis, the Chips and Science Act, which would spend up to $280 billion to subsidize domestic microchip production. The bill is flawed, but justifiable on national security grounds. Then almost immediately afterward, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced their Inflation Reduction Act, which is mostly a vastly scaled down version of the old Build Back Better package that Manchin almost single-handedly blocked for more than a year.

Republicans were furious because they were led to believe such a thing was impossible. In what appeared like a fit of pique, they blocked the PACT Act, aimed at helping veterans harmed by burn pits in war zones. Except in June the same bill had passed the Senate 84-14 (it had to be reintroduced for technical reasons). In other words, the "support the troops" party voted down a pro-veteran bill they had supported just to spite the Democrats.

Republicans deny such motivations, and some, like Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., have plausible explanations. But the GOP certainly leapt at the opportunity to look like sore losers. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, says GOP feelings are so hurt over the Manchin Maneuver, her colleagues might balk on a bill to recognize gay marriage too.

Now, I get spite. But what's more confounding is how so many progressives are hailing the Inflation Reduction Act as a huge victory for Joe Biden and the left. For most of Biden's time in the White House, progressives insisted that even the $3.5 trillion they demanded for Build Back Better was itself the bare minimum and even a painful compromise. "I already negotiated. The truth is we need more," Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who had wanted anywhere from $6 trillion to $16 trillion in climate spending, told Politico. The $3.5 trillion, he said, is "the minimum of what we should be spending." Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., said a year ago that the $3.5 trillion was merely a "down payment."

Now, everyone is cheering a bill that spends a comparatively meager $369 billion on climate-related subsidies. The rest of the measure's $739 billion price tag goes to extending Obamacare provisions, prescription drug subsidies, expanding the Internal Revenue Service workforce and various tax hikes aimed at deficit reduction.

I have many substantive objections to the bill which, if passed, is unlikely to have nearly the success its backers claim at reducing emissions or increasing revenues. For instance, the extension of the eligibility for the carried interest deduction from three years to five is supposed to be a major broadside against perfidious private equity fat cats, but the average amount of time investors hold assets is about five years anyway.

More annoying is Manchin's claim that this is just about "closing loopholes" when the bill is chock-a-block with loopholes for green energy firms, just as the CHIPS bill was for manufacturers. Subsidizing affluent people to buy electric cars and shoveling subsidies to Democrat client industries is good politics for Biden, but I'm old enough to remember Solyndra.

But my consternation is mostly political. If you had told Republicans that they could derail the old BBB with a deficit reduction package that spent just 10 cents for every dollar the Democrats wanted, a lot of them would have counted themselves lucky. And if Biden had pushed for such a deal, the same people popping champagne now would be denouncing Biden as a sellout.

It's all the stranger because Biden didn't push for this bill. Everyone's touting this deal as a huge win for Biden when he had nothing to do with it. Indeed, Manchin says that he kept Biden out of negotiations because Biden's involvement would have messed it all up. Biden campaigned on the promise that he knew how to work with Congress, but he was entirely out of the loop.

After a spate of brutal polls for Biden and his party, the Democrats who wanted the moon, are happy to celebrate moon rocks. And Republicans have gotten so entitled to winning that in their outrage over losing, they'd rather vote against legislation they support. It's almost as if policy were an afterthought.

2022, Tribune Content Agency

(6) comments

coolmtnman

We're still battling the destruction Reagan did by destroying the middle class

billnonymous

CBO: Inflation reduction act may increase inflation in 2023. D'uh. Dummyrat politicians know their voter base is so void of intelligence that they actually believe printing a trillion more dollars out of thin air will help reduce the inflation caused by printing 2 trillion dollars out of thin air. Liberal logic. Hey, look, that house is on fire! Someone pour some gasoline on it, quick, that will help put it out!

billnonymous

Republicans blocked the PACT Act because Demonrats pulled the bill that everyone agreed on, inserted $400 billion in pork spending into it that would *never* pass on its own, then reintroduced it, demanding immediate passage. When the Republicans objected to the additional $400 billion in Demonrat pork spending, the Demonrats ran to the fake news cameras shouting, “Republicans hate veterans!” Goldberg knows this, but he doesn’t call out the Demonrats for the “bait and switch” bull manure, he dismisses it as “plausible explanations.” Typical feckless Jonah. If Republicans pulled a stunt like that, the fake news media would be howling in outrage. They still howl in outrage, but it’s because the Republicans didn’t lie down and let the Demonrats steal another $400 billion from hard working Americans so they can give to their friends before being voted out of office in another 3 months.

Secondly, for all of us who said Dope’bama care would be nothing but an endless money pit of bailouts, this bill further vindicates our claims. The Demonrats said the ACA would be self funding, with dozens of exchanges providing coverage, wouldn’t cost taxpayers a cent! Yet, after hundreds of billions in spending, those exchanges are gone, and so is the money. For the last decade, every spending bill has included bailouts for the ACA. If not for these incessant bailouts, Dope’bama care would have folded in 2012.

freeride

The demonrats are truly demons....you have to be a special kind of sicko to use veterans to try and pass a bill with $400 billion in waste included. When you get caught being the sneaking scum you are you try again to use veterans to claim Republicans are the bad guys. Demonrats are biggest threat to our Republic and to American citizens...wake up people!

jsd

What do you call people who lie? Trump supporters. The $400 billion was in the bill when it passed the Senate with overwhelming support from Republicans in June, so that isn't what changed. Just another lying Trump supporter. Why did Republicans support the spending in June and in July blame it for pulling their votes and support it in Aug just a few days later, if the spending was the obstacle? Before you start calling others sicko for things you lie about, you might want to consider the things Trump has actually done like admitting to grabbing women's crotches without their permission. That is a sicko.

jsd

Bill the Liar - The spending you say was added was in the June 16 version overwhelmingly supported by Rs so nothing about this spending changed from June 16th until July 27th. If this was so objectionable to R's why pass it in June? And if it was so objectionable why pass it with no changes a couple of days later? More likely the reason for the July 27th vote had nothing to do with the bill at all, but that R's were upset the Dems had a path forward with Manchin on a new spending bill. Tester raised the issue shortly after the June 16th Vote and R's didn't care... maybe because they also had their hand in the pork pie. Are you just incapable of telling the truth? That is the problem with so many Trump supporters - they lie just like him.

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