The Inflation Reduction Act Is Not the Big Deal That Both Parties Think It Is

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 Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) announced their Inflation Reduction Act, which is mostly a vastly scaled down version of the old Build Back Better package that Manchin blocked almost single-handedly 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, a bill 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.

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