It’s taken years of organizing from grassroots advocates across the country, a series of legislative deaths and surprise resurrections, and lots of behind-the-scenes negotiation, but it’s finally happened: Congress has passed a ground-breaking reconciliation bill that funds historic climate action, reduces the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, and takes steps to make the ultra-wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share in taxes.
The Inflation Reduction Act
What You Need to Know
There’s a good chance that 50 years from now, Americans will look back and see the Inflation Reduction Act as one of the most important pieces of legislation ever passed. For the first time, America is making a real commitment to combating the climate crisis. While MAGA Republicans continue to prioritize the profits of their corporate donors and ignore the increasingly desperate pleas of scientists to take the crisis seriously, Joe Biden and the Democrats in Congress are creating solutions and strengthening our economy in the process. While much work remains, this bill offers real, practical improvements and sets us on a forward-looking path to greater energy independence and an actual functioning tax system. It’s not hyperbole to say that every American will see real, tangible benefits.
The Republican Filibuster in Action: Insulin Price Caps
There are lots of big victories to celebrate in the IRA. But there’s one infuriating thing that’s not in the final bill: desperately-needed caps on the price of insulin for those with private insurance. Americans pay FAR more than any other wealthy country for the life-saving drug – the price has skyrocketed over the past 10 years, and it’s so expensive that for many people with diabetes, the cost is considered “catastrophic”. So Democrats in Congress included a price cap in the IRA, limiting out-of-pocket monthly insulin spending to $35, and it received strong bipartisan support in the Senate.
Great news, right?
Not according to Republicans.
Thanks to filibuster abuse, 57 Senate votes in support of price caps weren’t enough to prevent MAGA Republicans from stripping these crucial protections from the final bill. As a result, millions of people with diabetes will continue to be forced to choose between food, shelter, and the medicine they need to live. And some who can’t afford their monthly insulin bill will pay the ultimate cost.
What’s Behind the Scenes
Remember Build Back Better? The IRA is what’s left of it. After years of negotiation and exhausting vanity plays from Senators Manchin and Sinema, the reconciliation bill that passed is great at addressing a narrow set of priorities, but leaves a lot of unfinished business as well. But we’re gaining ground in the climate battle for the first time – let’s capture that turf, defend it, and then work for more change.
Moving forward, we can expect to see a corporate-funded blitz against the bill because Big Pharma and the fossil fuel industry feel threatened by this win. It’s critical that the Biden Administration step up and take strong administrative action to end our reliance on fossil fuels and transition the country towards truly clean, renewable energy.
How We’re Talking About It (It’s a Bfd!)
- This bill is a big win for the country—celebrate it! Is it perfect? Definitely not – this is Congress, after all. But it is a monumental achievement that will help working families and combat climate change in ways America has never done before. It’s thanks to the persistence of grassroots activists who won our trifecta in 2020 and continued to push for change that this bill has passed. And we’re not stopping now.
- Majority Leader Chuck Schumer listened to the people, not pundits, to get this bill across the finish line. After years of negotiation and Republican sabotage, the bill passed cleanly, without poison pill amendments that could have jeopardized its pathway to the president’s desk. Progressives in Congress never stopped pushing for bold change, and instead of surrendering to naysayers and obstructionists, Democratic leadership committed to achieving this victory for the American people and the future of our planet.
- Every American will see both direct and indirect benefits from this bill: cleaner air, millions of good jobs created, wildfire prevention, funding for home energy upgrades, more affordable healthcare, and historic climate change mitigation projects—all made possible by our Democratic Congress.
- This is the largest investment in tackling the climate crisis in our nation’s history, paving the way for the transition to a clean energy economy and creating nearly a million jobs each year for the next decade.
- 43 Republican Senators sided with Big Pharma and against the American people, successfully stripping insulin price caps from the bill. Remember their names. And all 50 Republicans voted against the final bill, almost blocking passage of these vital investments in our future.
- If we want a stronger bill, we need a stronger majority. A few Senators on the Democratic side of the aisle didn’t have their priorities in order, and worked to protect big-money interests instead of their constituents. Because of our razor-thin margins, they had more power than they should have to influence this bill. By adding that 51st, 52nd, or even 53rd Democratic Senator (hello, Senators Fetterman and Barnes!), we can end their stranglehold on our legislative pipeline and take the next steps needed to improve healthcare and fight climate change.
What’s in It for Us? A Quick Reference Guide
This is the most significant healthcare bill since President Obama’s ACA, lowering medical costs for millions of Americans and saving seniors thousands per year in prescription drug costs, including insulin.
- Extends ACA premium assistance for 3 years for millions of Americans
- Medicare Part D out-of-pocket prescription costs will be capped at $2000 per year
- Insulin cost will be capped at $35 month for Medicare beneficiaries
- Vaccines will be free for seniors on Medicare
- For the first time, Medicare can begin negotiating some drug prices, which will reduce prices for all
- Expands eligibility for subsidies for low-income Medicare Part D recipients
- Permanently funds the Black Lung Disability Trust, providing support to injured coal miners
Climate and energy
The IRA is expected to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030, and includes over $350B for environmental and climate justice provisions. These include:
- The average American family is estimated to see an annual $1,025 in energy savings, thanks to reduced fuel and electricity costs
- $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit, now payable at time of purchase rather than a tax credit
- Creates the High-Efficiency Electric Home Rebate Program, which will help homeowners make their homes safer and greener by subsidizing improvements like solar panels, heat pumps, energy efficient windows, upgrading electric wiring, replacement of gas appliances, and much more – up to $14,000 for qualifying households!
- $60B to disadvantaged communities disproportionately impacted by climate change, including funding for air quality monitoring near industrial sites in impacted neighborhoods. (PDF with full details on environmental justice funding in the IRA)
- $60B for solar panel and wind turbine production, increasing our green energy infrastructure
- $20B to reduce rural, agricultural and farming pollution and help farmers transition to climate-smart systems
- $9.7B to USDA to improve the resiliency and affordability of rural electric systems.
- $5B for forest management and wildfire risk reduction projects
- $4B for drought relief and water conservation projects
- $3B to the USPS to upgrade delivery fleet to electric vehicles and related infrastructure
- $297M to ramp up production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which reduces airplane emissions 50-80%
- For a full list of climate/energy provisions in the bill, click here
- Thanks to these historic investments, the IRA is forecast to create almost a million jobs each year for the next decade
By closing loopholes, funding tax enforcement for the ultra-rich, and creating a new minimum corporate tax rate for the largest companies, we’ll be able to fund all these vital investments in America’s future AND strengthen our economy at the same time.
- 15% minimum tax rate for large corporations
- 1% excise tax on corporate stock buybacks
- Expand caps on corporate tax write-offs
- $80B to the IRS to increase staffing levels and modernize technology, allowing for oversight of the high-complexity returns filed by the wealthiest few, who’ve faced a far lower audit rate than low- and middle-income Americans due to years of IRS under-funding.