The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that President Biden signed last week was passed without a single Republican vote. Major legislation like this is quite rare in an election year. It was a great cap, however, to a year and a half of legislative accomplishments by the Biden administration and a Congress that Democrats just barely control. Some even received bipartisan support, including last year’s job creating infrastructure bill, the first gun safety law in decades, and the critical CHIPS Act, which bolsters scientific research and domestic semiconductor production.
But here’s what makes several of these enactments so important. The coronavirus pandemic shed a glaring light on a weakness that globalization has slowly caused over the past several decades: America is far too dependent on certain raw materials and products that are primarily produced in foreign countries. This is particularly true of China, which is allied with Russa and flexing its economic and military muscles across the globe.
Consequently, the United States can no longer depend on this communist nation as a reliable source of imports that are needed for its economy, the health of its citizens or its national security. That’s why the CHIPS Act is an important step toward American independence in semiconductors and other technology. The IRA will also lessen U.S. dependence on China. It makes huge investments to promote domestic battery production, which will reduce the cost of electric vehicles. Both will result in more high paying jobs and enhanced national security. I call these win/win legislative achievements.
During a 1952 Presidential campaign speech, Illinois’ Democratic Governor Adlai Stevenson reportedly said, “If they [the Republicans] will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.” I’m sure this line was good for uproarious laughter at the time, but GOP lies are no longer funny. All politicians shade the truth but Republicans have turned lying into an art form. Misinformation is their strategy to deflect from the fact that the GOP has very few sound policies that are popular with voters. Although they have been quite successful with it, their lies have frequently put people’s lives in danger. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley’s recent attack on the Internal Revenue Service is an excellent example.
There was a time when the 89-year-old Grassley was known as a reasonable, policy minded legislator. Now, however, he apparently feels compelled to pander to a Republican base that has grown ever more radical over the past two decades. His comments about the IRA’s $80 billion additional funding for the Internal Revenue Service are beyond shocking. This Act will provide for up to 87,000 additional IRS employees over 10 years. Grassley ludicrously claimed, however, that this will create, “a strike force that goes in with AK-15s (sic.) already loaded, ready to shoot some small business person in Iowa” because, “they aren’t paying their fair share” in taxes.
For the record, one of the many government damaging tactics the GOP has employed over the years is to drastically cut funding for the IRS. This not only decreased the number of audits on wealthy taxpayers, it prevented the service from updating its ancient computer software and caused in a huge backlog of unprocessed paper returns. The added funding is not to badger small businesses; it’s to catch rich tax cheats and make the IRS more efficient. The rhetoric used by Grassley and numerous other Republicans, however, is not only false, it puts the lives of IRS employees at risk.
Former president Trump made one of his most damaging decisions in 2018 when he unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal that President Obama and five other world leaders inked with Iran. As predicted, this gave Iranian hardliners the greenlight to increase that nation’s capability to make a bomb. Since his inauguration, however, President Biden has been attempting to resurrect that agreement to its 2017 status, when, according to United Nations’ inspectors, Iran was in compliance. It won’t be easy though; he is facing strong opposition from the GOP.
Remember, in March 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress to warn that Obama’s agreement with Iran would pave the way to an Iranian nuclear weapon. Days later, 47 Republican Senators signed an open letter intended to scuddle the deal. In it, they issued an unprecedented warning to Iran that Obama lacked the authority to sign it.
I’ve always wondered, however, even if the 2015 agreement wasn’t everything they wanted, what was the Republican alternative – war with Iran? That would be a long, bloody conflict with no winners. The cost in lives loss and military expenditures would be unimaginable. The Islamic Republic is not like Iraq, which was a military pushover; Iran is much more formidable, with almost twice the population and nearly four times the land area, much of which is mountainous.
Regardless, 49 GOP Senators signed a statement last March, stating that, “Republicans will do everything in our power to reverse” a Biden negotiated agreement. Then in May, the Times of Israel reported that Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile was 18 times the 2015 deal limit and that Iranians could build a bomb within weeks. So again Republicans, what’s your alternative to Biden’s agreement, another horrific Middle East war?
This nation has a myriad of difficult challenges. Yet, all Republicans seem to do is lie about proposed fixes and obstruct others.