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DelVal Pols Debate Impact of Latest Inflation Hike

When news broke that the Consumer Price Index hit a higher than expected year-over-year 8.3 percent rate, the stock market tanked. That was not good news for an incumbent president and his party just weeks before the midterm election.

Even worse, the cost of groceries “rose 13.5 percent over the last 12 months, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending March 1979,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “The indexes for shelter, medical care, household furnishings and operations, new vehicles, motor vehicle insurance, and education were among those that increased over the month.”

President Joe Biden amplified the Democrats’ angst by hosting a White House Rose Garden celebration of the $739 billion so-called Inflation Reduction Act the same day the report hit. The celebration featured claims of fiscal success and a song by 1970s singer James Taylor.

Meanwhile, the Penn Wharton Budget Model found the legislation’s impact on inflation would be “statistically indistinguishable from zero.”

So, how are Delaware Valley elected officials and their midterm opponents reacting to the latest inflation news?

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) noted the Biden administration’s positive talk about inflation being under control missed the mark.

“The ‘consensus’ was wrong. Today’s inflation report shows what American families knew to be true: prices are still rising,” Toomey tweeted. “Americans are paying significantly more for essentials than they were one year ago: 13.5 percent more for groceries, 6.2 percent more in rent, 23.8 percent more for energy.”

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz said, “Pennsylvanians are getting slammed by higher and higher prices everywhere they turn as the inflation rate continues to tick up. There will be no relief in sight as long as we continue electing tax and spend Democrats like Joe Biden and John Fetterman. My opponent, John Fetterman, would only make this worse by funding radical ideas like the Green New Deal while raising taxes on the middle class.”

Fetterman did not respond to a request for comment about the new inflation report.

His fellow Democrat, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia), attended the White House legislative victory party, tweeting from the scene: “The #InflationReductionAct is a major victory for America’s families and for our planet–advancing the people’s interest over the special interest. Great to mark its historic passage at the White House with my friend @RepDean!”

Scanlon’s GOP opponent David Galluch did not see it that way.

“I grew up with a single mom who sacrificed to make ends meet. The current leadership in D.C. is refusing to provide real solutions at the expense of families like the one I grew up in,” Galluch said.

“While working families continue to be squeezed by inflation, President Biden and Congresswoman Scanlon take a victory lap for passing the ‘Inflation Reduction Act,’ a bill that did not lower inflation or provide ‘immediate relief,'” he added.

Another DelVal Democrat facing a GOP challenger in Congress, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, has publicly complained about the Biden administration’s poor handling of inflation. She responded to the bad news by taking to Facebook and reminding voters she has her own plan.

“A little while back, I asked Dr. Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics, to join me for a telephone town hall to talk about the root causes of inflation and what we can expect in the coming months,” Houlahan wrote. “We discussed the global shockwave of the pandemic and its lasting impact on our global supply chains. As one of the few members in Congress with a background in supply chain management, I used that experience to create my Inflation Action Plan.”

Guy Ciarrocchi, the former CEO of the Chester County Chamber who is challenging Houlahan, was unimpressed. “Inflation is the number one issue to everyone. Well, it’s the number one issue to every not named Biden or Houlahan.

“Biden and Houlahan created this mess with wasteful spending and forcing us to import energy from our enemies.  I campaign every day to offer hope, to change this—and will work even harder in Congress to use common sense to fix their mess that is crushing our family budgets.”

Houlahan posted this message on Facebook: “Yesterday’s inflation report is a reminder that inflation doesn’t go away overnight, and it also confirms what we have been feeling at home—price relief is not where it needs to be, and that’s making things harder for Pennsylvanians.

The report showed that even though gas and energy prices continue to come down, those cost savings were offset by other sectors including medical care.

Christian Nascimento, the Republican running against Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) said, “If we needed any reminding about the challenges our economy is facing, August’s 8.3 percent CPI increase has confirmed one thing: the Democrats’ policies are not working.

“Whether it is increased taxes, increased spending, increased hiring at the IRS, or the redistribution of student debt, Joe Biden’s policies are harming the economy, and Madeleine Dean and congressional Democrats that vote 100 percent of the time with the president are enabling this damage,” Nascimento said.

A frequent criticism of the inflation legislation is that it is actually a green energy and health care spending plan, not a strategy to cool an overheated economy. Dean appeared to confirm that view.

“Grateful to be with my brother and my son as we celebrate the Inflation Reduction Act at the White House,” she posed on Facebook. “This legislation will make our largest-ever investment in climate action; lower prescription costs, including capping Medicare insulin at $35; ensure the biggest corporations pay their fair share; and reduce our nation’s deficit.

“For our families. For our planet. For our future.”

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Whatever Happened to the ‘Inflation Reduction Act?’

A new NBC News poll released Sunday found 74 percent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track—the highest number in the history of its survey.

It also found that while President Joe Biden’s approval had ticked up to 42 percent, his disapproval had also increased to 55 percent. Not a great number for Democrats just 80 days ahead of the midterms.

National pundits say the recent legislative achievements of Biden and the Democratic majority will help turn things around for the party. They plan to spend $10 million marketing their most recent legislation, the $739 billion …. Something Act.

When Sen. Joe Manchin and Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer revealed the legislative deal they had negotiated in secret, they called it the “Inflation Reduction Act.” But when NBC News’ pollsters asked voters about it last week, here is the language they used:

“Democrats recently passed legislation supported by President Joe Biden that addresses health care and prescription drug prices, climate change, taxes for corporations, and the federal budget deficit. Do you think it was a good idea or a bad idea?”

Notice what words are missing: “Inflation” and “reduction.”

It’s not just NBC. The New York Times’ coverage featured the headline, “What’s in the Climate, Tax and Health Care Package?” At NPR it was “Biden Signs Sweeping Climate, Health Care, Tax Bill Into Law.” At The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Congress OKs Dems’ Climate, Health Bill, a Biden Triumph.”

Inflation? Barely a mention, other than to note independent analysts like the Congressional Budget Office and the Wharton School say the new law won’t have a significant impact.

As Kiplinger reports, “Despite its name, the Inflation Reduction Act’s main goals are really to address climate change and lower healthcare costs.”

That is a very different message from the one Democrats facing tough races this November were preaching just weeks ago.

 “Rep. Susan Wild Issues Statement Following Senate Passage of the Inflation Reduction Act” was the headline on the Pennsylvania congresswoman’s page when the bill passed the upper chamber.

But when she voted for it two weeks later, her headline read: “Rep. Wild Takes Historic Vote to Lower Health Care Costs, Save Taxpayer Dollars, Fight Climate Change.”

See what’s missing?

With the bill passed, Democrats have abandoned talk of “inflation reduction.” Now they are celebrating subsidies for buying electric vehicles and heat pumps that will eventually lower individual families’ energy bills and so, to them, it is lower inflation.

For example, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Sunday touted the fact that the new law saves middle-income families “30 percent off the price of solar panels… You will be able to, starting next year, get rebates on the appliances and equipment that will help you reduce your monthly energy bill by up to 30 percent. That is all about reducing costs for people.”

Except it is not. First, families struggling with rising prices have to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars upfront to get the “savings.” Plus, spending nearly $400 billion in tax dollars on rebates for weather-stripping a home or buying energy-efficient appliances may eventually save some individuals money (they still have to buy the EV or washing machine up front). But creating more customers for fewer goods is likely to create more upward price pressure for the economy as a whole, experts say.

As InsideEVs reported in June, the average cost of an electric vehicle had already risen to $54,000 before the Act Formerly Known As ‘Inflation Reduction’ passed Congress. That was due in part to supply chain issues and shortages in inventory, something that is not likely to change in the next year. And, they added, “soaring demand is almost certain to push prices up as well.”

Supporters of the $739 billion bill have also shifted the conversation toward the law’s health care provisions. For example, Obamacare subsidies “temporarily” granted to families earning up to $300,000 a year were scheduled to expire. The new law extends those subsidies for another three years, at a cost of around $25 billion per year.

That is another $25 billion in federal dollars going into an economy that is already at 8.5 percent inflation. Another great deal for the six-figure-salary families who get the free money, but how will that lower price pressure overall?

The question facing Democrats is how voters will react to the law once they learn the details. The early indicators aren’t good. The NBC News poll asked what impact voters believed the new law, whatever it is called, will have on them personally.

Just 26 percent said it would make things better; 35 percent said it would make things worse.

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PA Pols Say Climate Bill Will Cut Energy Costs. Experts Say ‘No’

Most Americans know the “Inflation Reduction Act” President Joe Biden signed will have little impact on inflation. CBS News ran the headline, “One thing the Inflation Reduction Act may not do: Lower inflation” even before the bill had been signed.

And a new Morning Consult poll found just 15 percent of independent voters believe the legislation will live up to its name.

Which may explain why Democrats have suddenly shifted their language about the legislation to a “climate” bill, touting savings on energy costs it will bring American consumers. But will this new measure, with its $739 billion price tag, actually lower the cost of electricity, heating oil, or gas?

Sen. Bob Casey says yes. “This bill is going to lower… energy costs for American families while creating clean energy manufacturing jobs and tackling the climate crisis.”

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa) agrees. The Inflation Reduction Act will “lower energy costs, saving Pennsylvania families an average of $1000 per year on their energy bills.”

(Interestingly, the same study Scanlon cites also says these savings won’t arrive until 2030, and just $16 to $125 of that $1,000 will come from the new law.)

While the League of Conservation Voters may be right that the Inflation Reduction Act “is the largest investment ever to fight the climate crisis,” relatively little of the $369 billion in climate spending will lower energy costs in the short term.

That is because, energy experts say, the spending is mostly in the form of tax breaks on money businesses spend building green energy production or switching to green energy sources. Some of the money also goes to homeowners and residential customers; but once again, only after they spend their own money weatherproofing their homes, switching to heat pumps, or buying electric vehicles.

In other words, there are no savings until ratepayers do some spending.

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester) acknowledged that fact earlier this week. “The Inflation Reduction Act lowers energy costs for families by providing rebates and tax credits to make homes and vehicles more energy efficient.” [emphasis added].

The largest share of the money goes “to subsidize supply, specifically for low-carbon and zero-carbon energy sources,” said Nick Loris of the Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions (C3 Solutions). “All else being equal, increased supply will lower prices. But for that to happen, the energy sector needs the ability to build the necessary infrastructure in a timely fashion.”

Without the necessary regulatory modernizations, Loris says policymakers are failing to address the systemic problem that has frustrated investors and energy producers across the board.

“That’s particularly true in places like the northeast where heating oil has doubled in price since last year, but regulatory bottlenecks and NIMBYism has blocked the infrastructure for cost-effective alternatives,” Loris said. “Secondly, it’s important to remember that this isn’t $369 billion isn’t free money. Americans will have to pay for subsidies through more borrowing or higher taxes.”

However, if they spend part of that money buying new energy-efficient washing machines or heat pumps, won’t that reduce demand and, over time, lower prices? Not according to Kenny Stein, policy director for the Institute for Energy Research, a free-market think tank.

“For the heat pump or appliance example, the alleged cost savings are based on modeling that says renewables make electricity cheaper, therefore a new heat pump will save money,” Stein says. “But if renewables increase electricity prices (which they tend to do), then the modeled savings vanish.”

Why would renewables increase electric rates? Because moving large numbers of businesses and households from heating oil or natural gas to electricity (not to mention electric vehicles) means a massive increase in demand.

“Another wrinkle to the modeling is that supporters of the new law count improved efficiency from a new, greener appliance as savings. It’s true that a brand new heat pump is likely to run more efficiently than a 30-year-old furnace. But a brand new furnace would also run more efficiently. So a lot of the ‘heat pump efficiency’ savings are actually just ‘new appliance efficiency’ savings,” Stein said.

That may sound like common sense to some, but Anthony Watts of the Heartland Institute said many policy markers lack a basic understanding of basic math, physics, engineering, etc.

“Our electric grid was built by engineers, not by politicians,” says Watts, a senior fellow for environment and climate at Heartland. “These politicians are pushing a green agenda, insisting ‘this will be better, it will be cheaper, it will be economically feasible, it will save people money.’ They may or may not be sincere, but they are completely ignorant of the scientific reality behind these things.”

In the coming years, Watts predicted legislators who support the Inflation Reduction Act will try to fix its failures by making a push to nationalize energy.

“They will claim the government could manage it better and we’re not going to be hit with all these price increases, but it’s not going to be helpful,” said Watts. “Government can’t do anything better than private industry.”

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MASTRIANO: Pennsylvanians Losing Hope Over Inflation Woes

Empty pantries. Unfilled medications. Depleted savings. I recently poured over hundreds of comments like these from my constituents regarding the issue concerning them most: the growing toll inflation takes on their survival.

Of the roughly 650 people who responded to my poll, 92 percent said they are worse off today than they were last year. Another 95 percent said they feel the pain of inflation at the gas pump and the grocery store. Many told me the cost to fill their tank has tripled, while electric bills and food purchases have risen by hundreds of dollars each month.

Others say they’ve dipped into savings and delayed retirement just to handle the worsening economic situation. Parents forgo new clothing and school supplies as their children embark on another academic year, elderly and disabled residents on fixed incomes fret over property tax hikes, small business owners watch sales plummet and income halved, while others consider fleeing Pennsylvania altogether.

This widespread suffering weighs on my mind every day and the responsibility I bear to fix it grows heavier by the minute. I wish I could say the same for my colleagues across the aisle, spurred on by a feckless gubernatorial administration only interested in throwing money at our problems in hopes they’ll just disappear.

Ordinary Pennsylvanians know this tactic only makes things worse. There’s no such thing as free money, especially when it’s our hard-earned dollars the state is using to appease Gov. Tom Wolf’s progressive allies. It’s the same pattern we see at the congressional level, where President Joe Biden just signed the Inflation Reduction Act – a misnomer, at best, to distract from the billions in handouts it awards to green energy.

Even the nonpartisan Congressional Office of the Budget admits the legislation will increase taxes on the middle class – those making under $400,000 annually – by $20 billion over the next decade. This, on top of the $410 million carbon tax the Wolf administration is fighting tooth and nail to impose on electricity ratepayers through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

A bipartisan mix of lawmakers opposes RGGI because it could nearly quadruple energy costs by 2030 with virtually zero reduction in carbon emissions. It threatens tens of thousands of jobs and punishes millions of residents unable to afford greener options, like electric heat pumps and solar panels.

My constituents tell me their electricity bills have already inflated by hundreds of dollars each month, leaving them with difficult choices to make about which bills get paid. If the Senate Republicans’ legal challenge to stop RGGI once and for all fails, these costs will skyrocket even more.

But Wolf’s policies don’t exist in a vacuum. Rather, the Biden administration’s ruinous strategies amplify the struggle we all face just to drive to work and keep our lights on. From restrictive gas drilling regulations to the billions in aid we funnel to Ukraine to defeat a war against Russia, we swear we aren’t fighting, both Democratic leaders believe the middle class should fund their self-serving ambitions.

That’s why I sponsored Senate Bill 813 to temporarily institute a gas tax holiday that would shave 15 cents off the price per gallon for six months. The legislation also implements registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles to offset the lost revenue from the tax cut to maintain funding for roads and bridges.

We know, however, that energy is just one facet of this spiraling economic crisis. Local governments often lean on property taxes to fill widening budget gaps, a strategy that hits residents surviving on fixed incomes the hardest. With more than 2.2 million seniors living in Pennsylvania, this hardship isn’t limited to my district alone.

Eliminating property taxes for residents 65 and older could benefit as many as 176,000 seniors currently living below the poverty line. Legislation I introduced last year would extend this relief to elderly residents who’ve lived in Pennsylvania for ten years or longer and make less than $40,000 annually.

Our seniors have spent decades working and contributing taxes to our state. They shouldn’t fear losing their homes because of the inflationary spiral that’s wreaking havoc on our lives.

I’m not the only one taking action to quell this disaster. My Republican colleagues and I have likewise championed legislation to lower taxes on businesses, which will translate into wage growth and economic prosperity.

We’ve dismissed the governor’s proposals to increase personal income taxes, collect higher fees from oil and gas operators and drain our state’s savings account. We’ve sued to block his onerous regulations meant to punish industry and raise prices for all. We’ve asked voters to step in and tell us where they stand on our most fundamental issues, rather than letting the administration dictate to us what they think is best.

In that vein, I’ll conclude with just a handful of the hundreds of comments I’ve received from my constituents about the hardships they face. Don’t just take my word for it:

“I have to watch every penny and try to budget even further in the event that inflation gets worse so my family will still be able to afford to pay bills, buy food, and gasoline so I can get to work. It’s scary and frustrating. ”

“HARD decisions have to be made. Pay health insurance or the utility bills? HAVE to go to work, HAVE to use gas, how is anyone coming out ahead? We were barely making even BEFORE inflation hit.”

“I don’t fill my tank up all the way. I put enough in to get me 2 to 3 days. I can’t afford my co-pays to go to [the] doctor. Even when I work 30 hours OT in 2 weeks.”

“We are on SS and it is almost impossible to make our money take us till the next month. With all the bills going higher, but our checks do not get any higher. We have to make choices if we should pay rent, or go to the doctor and pay the copays, or pay the bills, or get medication, or eat, or use the gas to do any of the above.”

“We have several kids [and] it’s very hard to even have all the essentials now. It is very hard to have food for all my kids all the time. And gas is so expensive to even go to work. Basically working to pay for gas and food. No money for anything else.”

“Inflation has caused me to put my business up for sale due to a drastic drop in sales. Only form of income so barely getting buy and hoping for the best.”

“All of our utilities are behind or in shut off status. We have been late on our house payment the last few months. We basically go to work and back home because we are trying to conserve what gas we have. Everything has gone up, but our wages.”

“Barely keeping our head above water. Depending on the outcome of the midterms, we may have to leave the country. Things are completely out of control.”

“We can’t save for a new house due to everything else increasing. My husband drives a truck and his fuel prices have almost tripled! We need your help!”

“The prices of everything are so high we have to sacrifice a lot of things just to eat and provide electric in my household. Whoever reads this please help!”

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WILLIAMS: Congress Wants to Expand IRS and Give It More of Your Info

Natassia Smick, a mother of two, is working on getting her bachelor’s degree. She and her husband earn around $33,000 annually and depend on $2,000 from the earned-income tax credit to help make ends meet. Unfortunately, instead of getting the tax refund they were owed and relied on, the Smick family was targeted with an invasive audit from the IRS.

Now, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, millions of hard-working, low-income Americans like Natassia could face similarly frustrating audits from the IRS.

The partisan bill rushed through Congress includes more than $80 billion in new funding for the IRS. Among other things, these taxpayer dollars will go toward hiring and training 87,000 new enforcement agents at the IRS to conduct even more audits. Democrats are claiming this expansion would serve to go after tax cheats and billionaires who can afford to pay more. But the facts tell a different story. Just a few months ago, a new analysis of IRS data clearly showed that poor Americans — earning less than $25,000 a year — are five times more likely to be audited by the IRS.

This unprecedented expansion of the IRS is bad enough. But what many people may not know is that this bill also includes millions of dollars for a taxpayer-funded study that will pave the way for the IRS to collect even more financial information from American families. In fact, the bill gives the IRS $15 million to study how the government could start preparing and filing tax returns on behalf of taxpayers. That may seem innocuous, but make no mistake: this provision is the first step to making the government our accountant.

A massive amount of personal information is needed to file a tax return every year and get a full refund. And that information changes from year to year. These are important changes that the government — especially an agency as backlogged and behind as the IRS — will struggle to maintain. If the agency was put in charge of generating and filing tax returns, it’s almost guaranteed that it wouldn’t be accurate, which, in the best-case scenario, means more precious time spent trying to fix their mistakes. That would be a nightmare at an agency that is answering only one in 50 customer service phone calls.

In the worst-case scenario, it would mean not getting the money owed. Millions of Americans who depend on critical tax credits, like Natassia and her family, could miss out on the full refund they are entitled to and rely on to pay their bills. In fact, a recent report from CNBC found that this proposal would make it harder for taxpayers to claim the earned income tax credit, the child tax credit, the child and dependent care credit, and more.

And while progressives in Congress rushed to push this clear conflict of interest through, even the IRS itself has said that a government-run system would not be a significant improvement for taxpayers. 

The former heads of the IRS under presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump agreed that a government-run tax prep system should not be a priority for the agency. And James McTigue, a director at the independent Government Accountability Office specializing in tax policy and administration, recently  acknowledged that “it’s not 100 percent clear that the IRS could do better or as well as the private companies.”

This massive package, rushed through in the dead of night, has many concerning provisions, but those that expand the IRS and may force taxpayers to turn over even more personal information to the government in exchange for a system that experts acknowledge may not work is alarming. 

Earlier this year, an overwhelming 75 percent of voters across the country said they would oppose proposals just like this, and 60 percent of voters said they would not support elected officials who pushed these proposals through. Members of Congress should remember they work for these voters and shouldn’t make tax season more difficult and even more invasive for hardworking Americans like Natassia.

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Mixed Reactions to $739B Spending Bill Signed by Biden

President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act — now being called the “Climate, Healthcare, and Taxes Act” by some — on Tuesday, drawing mixed reactions. Whether it would help or hurt Americans depended on party affiliation.

The mammoth $739 bill will impose a minimum of 15 percent in corporate taxes and a 1 percent excise tax on stock buybacks. It will also unleash 87,000 new IRS agents, cap insulin costs for Medicare recipients, and shovel billions in tax subsidies to “green” projects.

“Hide your wallet! The left’s behemoth tax hike and spending law will do nothing to help struggling Americans,” said Brooke Rollins, president and CEO of America First Policy Institute. “It will only make a bad situation worse. Americans deserve prosperity, economic growth, and energy independence — and that’s exactly what they aren’t getting from the Biden administration. Now, out-of-touch liberals in Washington, D.C. are delivering tax hikes, more reckless spending, and an army of 87,000 IRS bureaucrats to grab more from families who have less. Recently, 369 economists signed a letter organized by AFPI that expresses how this bill will worsen inflation.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) released this statement when the Senate passed the bill. “Last year, Democrats jammed through trillions of dollars in reckless spending that fueled the worst inflation in 40 years. Now, Democrats insist on pouring fuel on the fire with another partisan tax-and-spending spree that will only further exacerbate a recession we’re already likely in.

“To fund new ‘green’ corporate welfare and give Obamacare subsidies to wealthy Americans, this legislation forces short-sighted tax hikes on American businesses and imposes innovation-crippling price controls on life-saving medicines. And contrary to the bill’s name, non-partisan analysts have confirmed that it does nothing to alleviate the inflation tax Americans are feeling every day,” said Toomey.

Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) tweeted after the House approved the proposal, “We’ve passed the Inflation Reduction Act! For families, seniors, and our future. That’ll lower health care costs, cut prescription drug prices, including capping Medicare insulin at $35 — and the largest investment in our climate. We all should be proud of this work.”

After voting for the bill, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) said, “The Inflation Reduction Act is a historic victory for Pennsylvania families and for our planet: delivering the investments we need to keep down health care costs, reinvigorate American manufacturing, and drive our transition to a clean energy economy. Importantly, the bill is fully paid for by ensuring that corporations can’t dodge their taxes – while ensuring that not one middle-class Pennsylvanian or small business pays a cent more in taxes. This legislation is a monumental step forward in House Democrats’ fight to build a fairer, cleaner economy, as we remain committed to putting People Over Politics: lowering costs, creating better-paying jobs, and building safer communities for all.”

Dave Galluch, the Republican running against Scanlon, said, “Despite its name, the bill does little for working families. Even Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has said the bill ‘will, in fact, have a minimal impact on inflation.’ That sentiment is confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). So, we must ask – how does spending an additional $700 billion, raising taxes on working families, and hiring more IRS agents bring down inflation? Without mentioning spiraling costs for families, my opponent Mary Gay Scanlon celebrates this bill as the ‘the largest-ever federal effort on climate change.’ The legislation primarily consists of subsidies for green technology like solar panels and electric vehicles. Yet the average cost of installation for solar panels is nearly $20,000. The $4,000 and $7,500 tax credits for used and new electric vehicles will do little to reduce a current average price of roughly $66,000.

“This bill does nothing to help those struggling in the Fifth Congressional District now. It is another example of failed, out-of-touch leadership we must move on from this November,” Galluch said.

Guy Ciarrocchi, the Republican running for Congress against Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester) said, “The number one issue for everyone is Inflation. That’s why I would have been an emphatic “No” vote on Biden’s so-called ‘Inflation Reduction Act.’ From Wharton to CBS, analysts have stated that the spending bill won’t lower inflation—in fact, it might make inflation worse.

“What we need is $2 gas; yet, Houlahan gives us 87,000 more IRS agents, who will harass small businesses and families. She won’t help us; so, I’m running to fix this mess,” he said.

But Democrat National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison said, “President Biden and Democrats have delivered – and today, the American people won and the special interests lost. Today, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, taking the action the American people are looking for to lower the costs of prescription drugs, energy, and health care. It will also reduce the deficit — helping fight inflation. On top of that, this bill will take aggressive action to fight the climate crisis that will create jobs and increase our energy security.”

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) said on Facebook before the bill passing the House: “The reconciliation bill coming to the House floor tomorrow adds $80 billion to the Internal Revenue Service – nearly six times the agency’s current annual budget – and adds 87,000 new IRS enforcement personnel to pursue taxpayers, including the middle class.

“Wouldn’t we be better off hiring 87,000 new school resource officers and police officers to keep our schools and our communities safe?” Fitzpatrick asked.

American Petroleum Institute (API) President and CEO Mike Sommers said, “While the Inflation Reduction Act takes important steps toward new oil and gas leasing and investments in carbon capture and storage, it falls well short of addressing America’s long-term energy needs and further discourages needed investment in oil and gas. API shares the goal of addressing climate change, as evidenced in the policies we support and in the actions that our industry is taking every day. However, the considerable tax increases are simply the wrong policies at the wrong time.

“From a new corporate minimum tax to an $11.7 billion tax on crude oil and petroleum products to a new natural gas tax, this legislation imposes additional costs on American families and businesses at a time when policymakers should be looking for solutions to provide relief.

“The bill also fails to address permitting reform, which is essential to effectively delivering affordable, reliable energy to consumers in a growing economy,” said Sommers.

“Without a comprehensive plan for critical investment in American oil and natural gas and associated infrastructure, which provide nearly 70 percent of our country’s energy needs, the American people will continue to bear the brunt of short-sighted policies in Washington,” he said.

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Counterpoint: Manchin Disappoints With Inflation Reduction Act

For an alternative viewpoint see “Point: Sellout or Statesman: Manchin Charts a Prominent Path.”

Throughout Joe Biden’s presidency, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has acted as a check on his party’s worst excesses. Manchin has stopped billions, possibly trillions, of unaffordable government spending. He trimmed bills into a reasonable state and was the key voice bringing, for instance, the Biden infrastructure bill from $715 billion down to $550 billion of new spending.

Manchin has generally been a voice of moderation in a party under pressure from its most fervent Big Government voices. As inflation strains household budgets and recession threatens our economy, imagine how much worse off we would be without Manchin.

After all that, he caved. The now infamous deal struck with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer means the absurdly named “Inflation Reduction Act,” which includes $369 billion worth of climate spending, can go forward in Congress.

There are protectionist tax credits for electric vehicles with bureaucratic hurdles such as “Made in America” provisions, income limitations and maximum vehicle value restrictions. Red tape, not the consumer, is the real winner.

The bill will also make offshore oil drilling more expensive, which can only increase energy prices. The royalty rate to the government for offshore oil will increase by a third. The minimum amount one can bid for an offshore oil lease is going up. So is the annual rental rate for holding such a lease. There will be new fees on methane leakage at oil and gas sites, including transmission and processing facilities, and royalties on flared gas.

And while the bill does include some incentives for opening up new offshore oil leases, those offshore rigs will still face years of slow, inefficient regulatory processes such as environmental impact statements before oil can come out of the ground.

What does it all mean? Your energy bill every month will be higher. You’ll pay more at the pump to fill up your car — even if you own an electric vehicle. Sixty percent of power still comes from fossil fuels, after all, so even Tesla owners will be paying more for using their cars.

Climate bills aim to make fossil fuels more expensive and make renewables seem less expensive by subsidizing them. To that end, the bill includes $60 billion for domestic manufacturing of clean energy, including solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and mining. But those incentives will take time to take effect, and new manufacturers and renewable energy providers in the meantime will have to navigate regulations and red tape at both the state and federal levels.

Meanwhile, the penalties — the disincentives against fossil fuels — have no delay. They go into effect immediately, punishing energy producers with higher taxes, fees and penalties, leading to price hikes. Manchin and the Democrats put the cart before the horse. They’re trying to transition Americans to a renewable energy world that simply doesn’t exist. And in the end, people will suffer as energy costs skyrocket.

That can’t bode well for Democrats come election time, with people upset about higher prices at the pump, the grocery store and their energy bills. Even in Manchin’s home state of West Virginia, a potential Republican challenger for his Senate seat is already attacking Manchin’s support of the Inflation Reduction Act for “betraying West Virginia and destroying our economy.”

Manchin made his choice. And in 2024, voters in the Mountain State might feel done with those bad policies.

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Inflation, Recession Can’t Stop Dems Rush to Embrace $1 Trillion in New Spending

Inflation may be high and the U.S. economy may have dipped into recession, but Democrats are still rushing to back major new spending initiatives. And not just Democrats in deep-blue districts. In swing states like New Hampshire, Nevada and Pennsylvania, Democrats are on board with an additional $1 trillion in spending from the Biden administration.

Last week, Congress voted to spend $280 billion to subsidize domestic microchip manufacturing and fund science and tech research. While the House and Senate votes were bipartisan, every Democrat voted yes, while most Republicans voted no. And many of the GOP “yes” votes came from members who are retiring (Adam Kinzinger of Illinois) or are in purple districts Biden carried in 2020 (Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania).

Voting to spend a quarter of a trillion dollars at a time when polls show many voters blame the current inflation crisis on trillions in new federal spending under President Biden might appear politically risky. But Democrats remain undaunted.

“I voted to pass the #CHIPSandScience Act — including my priority to foster innovation in regions like ours!” tweeted Rep. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania, considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in Congress.

“Thrilled to see the CHIPS and Science Act I helped pass head to the president’s desk to become law,” added Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, another endangered Democratic incumbent up for re-election in November.

Now comes news of a deal between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and moderate West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin to spend an additional $739 billion on green energy, healthcare subsidies and — according to Manchin — paying down the national debt. The plan includes $500 billion in new tax revenues, some from a 15 percent minimum corporate tax, and doubling the number of IRS agents to conduct more audits of taxpayers.

Manchin has labeled it the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022,” though the effect of $450 billion in new spending on climate and healthcare on inflation is less than clear. However, advocates for green energy policies say the effect will be significant.

“This is the most significant action on climate and clean energy that we’ve ever taken in this country,” said Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn.

Between the two plans, Biden is proposing $1 trillion in new spending even as inflation hits a 41-year high of 9.1 percent.

New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, another high-profile target of GOP efforts to take back the Senate, said she was “encouraged by the agreement on the Inflation Reduction Act, which will fight inflation, pay down the deficit, make prescription drugs cheaper and lower energy costs.”

“We have an opportunity to address pressing priorities for Granite Staters and all Americans, and I’ll keep working with my colleagues to finalize a measure that reduces costs and strengthens our economy.”

Rep. Annie Kuster, another New Hampshire Democrat whose race is rated a “toss-up” by Cook Political Report, used her support for the Manchin-Schumer proposal to dodge questions about inflation. Asked by Punchbowl News about the data showing two quarters of declining gross domestic product and what it means, she replied:

“To be honest, I haven’t (looked). I’m more focused on the package that might be passing in the Senate. I’m super excited about the jobs and opportunities that are going to come out of this.”

And Pennsylvania’s Democratic senator, Bob Casey, said via Twitter: “The Inflation Reduction Act will lower everyday costs for families while also reducing the national deficit and putting us on a path to meet our climate commitments. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this done.”

While Democrats may be basking in the glow of an agreement with the recalcitrant Manchin, questions remain about their ability to get the bill passed. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, for example, has expressed reservations in the past about supporting the tax policies it includes.

Meanwhile, Republicans are already using the proposal to label Democrats the party of “tax and spend” economics.

“Now that the data scientists have confirmed that the U.S. is indeed in a recession, clearly fueled by excessive government spending and a strangling of domestic energy, it is even more unconscionable for congressional Democrats to conspire to force yet another tax-and-spend bill on the American people,” said Paul Teller, executive director of Advancing American Freedom, an organization founded by former vice president Mike Pence.

Akash Chougule with Americans for Prosperity called the legislation “a random grab bag of corporate welfare and tax hikes that will do nothing to address inflation — except potentially put us even deeper into recession. For years, members of both parties — including Sen. Manchin — agreed you don’t raise taxes in a recession because it would be devastating to the economy. With a rapidly shrinking economy, inflation at historic highs, and gas prices over $4 a gallon, you’d be hard-pressed to find a worse time for more spending and higher taxes.”

In the past, spending tax dollars offered a bigger political bang for the buck than fiscal restraint. Have the politics of inflation and recession changed the Election Day math? Democrats are about to find out.

Despite Soaring Inflation, DelVal Reps, Sen. Casey Vote for $280B CHIPS Act

Inflation may be high and the U.S. economy may have dipped into recession, but some Delaware Valley politicians signed off on $280 billion in new federal spending, with more on the way bringing the taxpayer’s tab up to nearly $1 trillion.

The Senate on Wednesday approved the $280 billion “CHIPS Act” to support semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S. with assurances to the Republicans that another huge spending bill was off the table. The House passed CHIPS on Thursday.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) voted for the CHIPS Act that also funds science and technology research. Reps. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks), Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery/Berks) and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) also supported the spending package.

“We have some of the best manufacturers in the world right here in Pennsylvania,” said Houlahan. “My district is home to multiple semiconductor manufacturers and the passage of CHIPS will make our supply chains more resilient, lower costs, and help us to outcompete China. CHIPS is a good example of Democrats and Republicans coming together on legislation that helps our businesses, consumers, and economy. I’m proud of this legislation and will continue to reach across the aisle for the good of our community, Commonwealth, and country.”

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks/Montgomery), a co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, was one of 24 Republicans to vote in favor of CHIPS.

“Semiconductor manufacturing is central to our ability to compete with Communist China and forms the core of USICA under the CHIPS provisions. American defense and civilian applications of artificial intelligence, next-generation wireless technology, and biotechnology require a competitive and self-sufficient domestic semiconductor industry,” Fitzpatrick said in a joint statement with fellow Problem Solvers Chair Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.)

However, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey voted no on CHIPS, saying on Wednesday, “Tonight, the Senate failed at even the most basic of functions: being able to disclose what it was voting on prior to doing so. Unfortunately, the one item that is certain to be included is a corporate welfare handout of more than $76 billion to an extremely sophisticated, profitable industry in the U.S. — semiconductor manufacturing.

“As history has taught us, centrally planning economies never works. When the government allocates capital, it inevitably drives investments to the politically well-connected at the expense of taxpayers. It’s not the government’s job to pick winners and losers, yet that is exactly what this effort is intended to do. If we truly want to beat China, we can’t emulate Beijing’s semi-socialist economic model. The best way to encourage investment, spur economic growth, and enhance American competitiveness is to create policies that benefit all industries, businesses, and workers alike,” Toomey said.

Now comes news of a deal between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and moderate West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin to spend an additional $739 billion on green energy, health care subsidies and — according to Manchin — paying down the national debt. The plan, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, includes about $500 billion in new tax revenues, some from a 15 percent minimum corporate tax and the rest from increasing the number of IRS agents and conducting more audits of taxpayers.

Between the two plans, Sen. Schumer and the Biden White House are proposing $1 trillion in new spending, even as inflation hits a 41-year high of 9.1 percent.

Toomey believes the Inflation Reduction Act is Biden’s Build Back Better Act in another form and does not plan to support it, said his spokeswoman.

Toomey tweeted this: “Democrats’ reckless spending and growth-killing regulation is exactly what led to 40-year high inflation and contracted our economy. Hiking taxes, enacting price controls, and spending billions more dollars will only make this disastrous situation even worse.”

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat running to replace Toomey, was in favor of the CHIPS Act.

“To fight inflation, we’ve got to start making more s**t in America–and that includes the semiconductors and microchips in everything from our cars to our cell phones. It’s about time that the Senate finally passed this bill to invest in domestic manufacturing, help us compete with China, and fix our broken supply chains so we can bring costs down,” Fetterman said.

A spokeswoman for Houlahan said that the congresswoman has not seen the text of the Inflation Reduction bill yet so she has not yet decided whether to support it.  Other DelVal representatives did not respond to questions Thursday to state their positions on the $740 billion bill.


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