Republicans are sharpening their attacks on the Democrats’ climate policy as the country races toward midterm elections in less than 100 days.
In public comments and private conversations, Republican lawmakers and strategists appear to be settling on a climate and energy message that they’ll use leading up to the November elections. They are framing policies to reduce emissions as the cause of high gasoline prices, a driver of inflation and a form of taxation on working Americans.
“We have a crisis in this country, and it’s not the climate,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told reporters last week. “It’s an energy crisis.”
President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party have spent the last week celebrating their milestone climate agreement, after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) settled on a deal to spend $370 billion on climate and energy security measures through the “Inflation Reduction Act.” The measure could be voted on in the next few days, though it has a series of hurdles to clear before hitting Biden’s desk.
Democrats have hailed it as one of the biggest clean energy investments in U.S. history. It could deliver on Biden’s promises to transform the energy sector while slashing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions over the next seven years.
Republicans see it as an opportunity to portray their opponents as reckless spenders as inflation rises.
Since the bill’s introduction last week, Republicans and conservative media are attacking the “Inflation Reduction Act” in the same way they criticized other climate policies, claiming it would raise taxes and drive up prices.
“The Democrats’ approach to tax reform means increasing taxes on low- and middle-income Americans to fund their partisan Green New Deal,” Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) told reporters last week.
The bill is a pared-down version of the “Build Back Better” package that Biden laid out in the early days of his administration. That past legislation proposed spending about $550 billion on climate and energy programs.
The newest package would offset $370 billion in climate and energy spending by closing a tax loophole on large corporations, raising the minimum tax rate to 15 percent. The new spending also includes billions of dollars for energy policy that favors the fossil fuel industry, including money to clean up methane emissions, carbon capture funding and guarantees of oil and gas leasing on public lands.
Both sides see the bill as a political driver in November.