Senate Democrats pushed through their $740 billion reconciliation spending bill on a straight party vote Sunday, with every member of their caucus rejecting amendments and giving the plan the 50 votes it needed for a vice-presidential tiebreaker.
They could not have done it without Sen. Maggie Hassan.
“This is a very, very, very big deal,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and they couldn’t have done it without Hassan.
“I am proud to have worked with my colleagues to pass this much-needed legislation, and I urge the House to pass our bill without delay,” Hassan said in a statement.
She added on Twitter, “The Inflation Reduction Act will allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, reduce energy costs while supporting our climate goals, tackle inflation, and reduce the deficit.”
However, independent watchdogs both in and outside of government say many of Hassan’s claims about the bill are false. For example, both the Congressional Budget Office and nonpartisan Penn Wharton Budget Model say the legislation will either raise short-term inflation modestly or have no measurable impact.
As for reducing the deficit, the CBO notes that 90 percent of the estimated debt reduction does not happen until 2026.
And even those numbers are unreliable because Schumer and the Democrats chose to push ahead with a Sunday vote despite a letter from the CBO saying it hadn’t had time to complete its analysis.
What is certain is the bill Hassan backed is “the biggest climate bill that any country has ever passed,” as Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) put it, spending more than $370 billion on energy and climate programs. It also extends expanded Obamacare subsidies to people earning up to $110,000 for a family of four. Additionally, it spends $80 billion doubling the size of the IRS, part of a plan to increase tax collections from enforcement and audits by some $200 billion.
Critics say that with inflation soaring and energy prices high, this is the wrong time to spend hundreds of billions of dollars, on top of the trillions in new spending since Biden took office.
With the CHIPS Act and the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act,” Senate Democrats have spent an additional $700 billion just in the past ten days.
“The tax and spending bill that now has unanimous support among Senate and House Democrats responds to inflation with more government spending, a recession with higher taxes on Americans of all walks of life and adds 87,000 IRS agents that the IRS publicly brags it will use to increase audits for small businesses,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
Bruce Berke with the NFIB New Hampshire said his small business members are relieved they “avoided the worst-case scenario of direct tax increases on their businesses, such as the new 3.8 percent tax on business income. But the direct tax was replaced with what is likely to be an indirect tax, by doubling the size of the Internal Revenue Service, and stressing enforcement actions over compliance assistance and resolving backlogs.
“NFIB is disappointed that the Senate rejected amendments to protect small business owners from increased enforcement actions and made changes that made the bill more problematic for small businesses, including tax and healthcare changes that limit the ability to spread our business losses and increase health insurance costs.”
Small business advocates also say the bill violates President Joe Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on anyone earning less than $400,000. They point to a report from the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), a nonpartisan agency within Congress, saying the bill would raise taxes by about $54 billion next year. More than $16 billion of that total would come from households making less than $200,000 and another $14 billion from households earning between $200,000 and $500,000.
The bill also includes a tax increase on imported oil, costing consumers as much as $25 billion according to some estimates, and additional fees on oil and gas production. It’s an interesting stance for Hassan, who has claimed oil companies are withholding production to drive up prices and is demanding they increase supplies.
“This package falls short in addressing America’s energy needs,” said American Petroleum Institute (API) President and CEO Mike Sommers in a statement. “While we’re encouraged that the bill will likely open the door to more federal onshore and offshore lease sales and will expand and extend tax credits for carbon capture, we remain opposed to policies that raise taxes and discourage investment in U.S. oil and natural gas.”
The Republicans running in the Senate primary for the chance to challenge Hassan also spoke out about her vote.
“Senator Maggie Hassan chose tax increases over New Hampshire families. Groceries prices, gas prices and the cost of living are hurting Granite Staters and make no mistake, Congress just made it worse,” said retired Gen. Don Bolduc. “Democrats and Republicans put us in this situation. I’m against any new spending and will bring back fiscal sanity to the U.S. Senate as a founding member of the Hell No Caucus.”
Bitcoin millionaire Bruce Fenton said, “Hassan claims that the bill to reduce inflation, but in reality, it’s exactly these types of tax and spend policies that increase inflation. New Hampshire voters are far too smart to fall for this. Woke elites don’t understand economics or money. Democrats have been dead wrong, and this is why New Hampshire voters are hurting at the gas pump and the grocery stores. The only thing that will fix it is a red wave in November.”
“The ironically-named Inflation Reduction Act will not reduce inflation, it will do exactly the opposite,” said entrepreneur Vikram Mansharamani. “Hard-working Granite State families are hurting and Maggie Hassan just voted to raise taxes on small businesses, hand out subsidies to wealthy buyers of electric vehicles, and grow the government bureaucracy. Time to send a businessman to D.C. to fix this mess!”
State Sen. President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) said, “Maggie Hassan really needs to explain why she so proudly voted for this flawed legislation that increases taxes and spending in the middle of an inflation-driven recession. We are about to enter a home heating oil crisis in New Hampshire, and Maggie Hassan is championing a bill to increase household energy bills. Hassan’s $6.5 billion in new taxes on natural gas and her 16.4 cents per barrel tax increase on oil, pegged to the inflation rate, will only increase costs at home and at the pump. We need real leadership, not Schumer and Biden’s puppet, to represent the 603.”
And former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith said, “The so-called ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ is the latest assault in the war Maggie Hassan and Joe Biden have waged on everyday working Americans and small businesses, all for the benefit of the radical, Green New Deal socialists who drive the Democrat agenda. Virtually every single American will pay more in taxes as a result of this, as well as 94 New Hampshire small-to-mid-sized businesses employing 54,000 Granite Staters, all so the wealthy can buy a cheaper Tesla. Maggie Hassan has once again proven she is beholden to the far-left and will continue to rubber-stamp Biden’s radical socialist agenda instead of representing the people of New Hampshire.”