United States President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed into law a big climate change and health care spending bill, giving Democrats another boost ahead of midterm elections in which Republicans are suddenly less certain of their predicted crushing victory.
The law, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, was touted by the White House as the biggest commitment to mitigating climate change in US history, as well as targeting long sought changes in the way medicines are priced, while adding fairness to the tax system, with a minimum 15 percent tax for corporations.
“A nation can be transformed. That’s what’s happening now,” Biden said in a White House speech likely to form the basis of his campaign ahead of the November polls, where Republicans have hoped to end Democrats’ narrow control of Congress.
“It’s about tomorrow,” Biden said. “It’s about delivering progress and prosperity to American families. It’s about showing America and the American people that democracy still works in America.”
While the sprawling bill is a fraction of the gargantuan package Biden originally tried and failed to get through Congress, the fact he was able to sign even the scaled-back version marked a political resurrection — a success Democrats now hope might fuel a comeback at the ballot box later this year.
Under the plan, the government will spend about $370 billion on green energy initiatives while also allowing the state-run Medicare system to negotiate prices for prescription drugs, a popular measure designed to cut the often ruinous prices Americans are forced to pay.
Although the Republican National Committee called a provision to subsidize electric vehicle purchases a “scam,” the Sierra Club, an environmental lobbying group, praised what it called a bold step in the struggle against an overheating planet.
“This day will be remembered by future generations as the turning of the tide against the fossil fuel industry and toward a healthier, cleaner, and more just future for all people across this country,” Sierra Club president Ramon Cruz said.
The law’s massive cost will be covered in large part by closing numerous tax loopholes and enforcing a new 15 percent minimum tax on corporations — a measure Biden has long promised to his base as a way to get the wealthy to “pay part of their fair share.”
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