President Joe Biden didn’t explicitly call on people to get out of the ballot, but at his White House event on Tuesday celebrating the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, he and other Democrats certainly didn’t miss an opportunity to set their agendas. contrast with Republicans.
The event on the South Lawn drew thousands as one of the largest gatherings the Biden administration has staged at the White House. In the crowd were House and Senate Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as union leaders and members, cabinet secretaries and other executives. The White House sent out invitations far and wide, hoping to build a buzz for climate and health legislation, and the event opened with a performance by James Taylor, who headlined fundraising events for Biden in 2020.
Missing from the crowd: Republicans. No one voted for the bill because they have their sights set on hammering Democrats on high inflation. That was evident earlier in the day as the latest consumer price index came in higher than expected, sending the stock market into a nosedive.
Major cable news networks carried the speech, but eventually broke away.
Walking back and forth on a makeshift podium, with the Truman balcony in the background, Biden delivered a spirited speech calling out certain senators, including Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) and Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), the last of whom is eligible for re-election. Scott and Johnson have proposed regular voting on whether to renew Social Security and Medicare, as well as a host of other government programs and benefits, the president noted.
“It’s hard to believe. I’d think I’m exaggerating if I didn’t look at it myself,” Biden said.
Biden devoted much of his speech to promulgating the legislation as a victory over special interests, including pharmaceutical companies and large corporations. Corporate lobbyists opposed a provision that set a minimum tax of 15%. “Gone are the days of companies paying zero taxes,” Biden said.
Legislation signed last month includes $369 billion for energy and climate programs over the next decade, including tax credits for the purchase of electric vehicles and other home solar credits. The bill also includes $64 billion to extend the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, and $4 billion to address drought in western states. Another $300 billion in the bill would be spent on deficit reduction.
The bill would be funded by a new 15% minimum corporate tax, which Congress estimates would bring in an estimated $222 billion. The provision was intended to catch large corporations with profits of at least $1 billion that, because of accounting maneuvers and write-offs, pay a lower rate or no federal corporate tax. Another $265 billion would come from prescription drug pricing reform, and Medicare will be allowed to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs. An estimated $74 billion would come from a 1% fee on share buybacks.
Taylor sang Fire and rain, you can close your eyes and America the beautifulsaying to the crowd, “What a beautiful day it is, and what a moment of hope it is.”
Also spotted in the crowd: screenwriter Billy Ray and political advisor Mathew Littman, who leads the Entertainment Industry Working Group, a roster of politically engaged actors, writers and other creatives.
More to come.