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Carroll County Times Opinion

Tom Zirpoli: GOP votes show who the party cares about | COMMENTARY

It has been interesting to read commentaries by Republicans about the Inflation Reduction Act recently passed in Congress without a single vote from Republicans. One has to wonder if they are reading the same bill as the rest of us.

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Republican opposition to the bill is understandable as it is helpful to ordinary Americans, not their corporate sponsors. It is also another feather in the cap for President Joe Biden and Democrats as the midterms approach. The votes on this bill clearly communicate to Americans which party is looking out for them.

Republicans say Biden, at age 79, is too old for the job. Yet, he exceeds expectations, again, and does what presidents are supposed to do: Get things done for the American people. Unlike his predecessor, who used the job to enrich himself and his businesses, Biden tries to help ordinary Americans. Imagine that.

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Republicans in Congress voted “No” as Democrats tried to make health care more affordable, to make prescription drugs cheaper, and to get corporations to pay their fair share of federal taxes. These votes tell you who they are working for.

Republicans are still refusing to take climate change seriously. Perhaps the people in Kentucky can wake up their senior senator, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as his state drowns in record flooding. But that would force McConnell to face the dying coal industry in his state — and its campaign contributions — and we all know that will never happen.

While McConnell and Republicans look out for the coal and oil industry, the Inflation Reduction Act helps ordinary Americans lower their energy bills. If you need a more efficient heating or cooling system, windows for your home, or appliances, tax incentives in the act will help pay for them, reduce your electrical bill, and decrease the effects of climate change.

The act reduced medication costs for Americans, especially the elderly, over the objections of every Republican in Congress. They also said “No” to a $35 price cap on insulin for Americans who have private insurance policies. Democrats were able to save the cap for Medicare patients, but Republicans did not want to help insulin users with private insurance. They also voted “No” to a $2,000 out-of-pocket annual medication cap for seniors, but Democrats secured enough votes to pass that provision. When it comes to health care costs, Democrats voted for us; Republicans voted with the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

For decades, Democrats have tried to give the federal government the power to negotiate drug prices for Medicare patients. Republicans have been blocking this for decades. Democrats finally secured limited negotiating power on some medications for Medicare patients. When it came to voting on the cost of medications, Democrats voted for us; Republicans voted with the pharmaceutical companies.

Only Republicans could call lowering prices on energy and medications for ordinary Americans “inflationary.” Nor does the act raise individual taxes, a tale Republicans have also been trying to sell. Instead, the act requires corporations with an annual income of more than $1 billion to pay a minimum tax of 15%. It would apply to about 250 corporations, “who paid an average effective tax rate of just 1.1% ” in the past, according to Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Isn’t it about time that these corporations paid their fair share? Don’t they benefit from our nation’s infrastructure and from the protections afforded by our nation’s military? Why do Republicans want to give these wealthy corporations a free ride?

Republicans have been complaining about high gas prices and putting the blame on Biden. But they have been quiet lately as gas prices have been falling to an average $3.90 per gallon on Aug. 21 from an average high of $5.09 per gallon on June 14, according to AAA. That’s a $1.19 per gallon decrease. Thank you, Biden. It’s all your fault.

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While our nation lost 4 million jobs during the previous administration, job growth during the Biden administration has broken records. He holds the record (6.6 million) for largest first-year job growth, according to CNN, and will likely break the two-year record. In July alone, the U.S. added 528,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 3.5%, a 50-year low.

This follows a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan and a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed during Biden’s first year in office, an accomplishment his predecessor just talked about for four years. During his second year, with bipartisan support, Biden championed an investment in America’s semiconductor industry so that we are not dependent on China for this important technology used in everything from cars to military weapons.

Last month, Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act which, according to ABC News, “broke a nearly 30-year stalemate on Capitol Hill, becoming the first major piece of federal gun reform to clear both chambers since the Brady bill.” Small progress, without votes from most Republicans, but a step in the right direction.

If you want to know who in Washington is trying to help the American people, look at how they vote.

Tom Zirpoli is the Laurence J. Adams Distinguished Chair in Special Education Emeritus at McDaniel College. He writes from Westminster. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.


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