Cline: Inflation Reduction Act – the worst is yet to come
Roanoke Times (Roanoke, VA)
As we find ourselves in the Dog Days of summer, hardworking Virginians have felt the devastating impacts of one-party rule in Washington. Inflation is at a 40-year high, historic interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve have reduced purchasing power, gas prices are still too high, and two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth have confirmed what families already knew: our nation is in a recession.
Unfortunately, the worst may be yet to come, as Senate Democrats have just passed a revived "Build Back Broke" plan to the tune of $740 billion, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden have signed on. Misnamed the "Inflation Reduction Act," the bill includes not only $480 billion in tax hikes that will hit workers through slashed wages, but $16.7 billion in increased taxes for folks making less than $200,000. Economists agree the bill will do nothing to tame inflation and may make it worse.
While the number of unemployed Americans shrank by 242,000, below pre-pandemic levels, and that's good news for our economy, it is no secret that President Biden and Speaker Pelosi will ignore the fact that 239,000 people left the workforce entirely in July. The combination of job creation and negative economic growth has only decreased the buying power of real wages or forced employers to lay off more and more Americans each week due to higher prices on everything from groceries to gas.
Americans know that when energy costs go up, so does the cost of basically everything else. During a time of historically high gas prices that is shrinking Americans' budgets, this bill directs $369 billion - half of the bill's spending - in government handouts to socialist 'Green New Deal' climate change special interests, including taxpayer-funded subsidies on electric vehicle purchases for wealthy taxpayers. This bill also seeks $38 billion in new taxes on American oil and gas producers, which will be passed along to consumers in the form of even higher prices. Instead of unleashing American energy production to help lower prices for families to fill up their gas tanks or heat their homes, this socialist scheme is another attack on American energy and jobs.
To make matters worse, the bill calls to weaponize the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with $80 billion in new funding to create an army of 87,000 new IRS enforcement agents - double the size of the current IRS workforce - to pry into the private financial accounts of Americans. What does that mean for hardworking Virginians? A supersized IRS designed to target Americans with as many as one million additional audits per year on taxpayers earning less than $200,000 in attempts to squeeze as much hard-earned money as possible out of middle- and working-class families already suffering from 9.1% inflation.
History tells us that raising taxes on American families, manufacturers and energy producers during a recession will have a continued negative impact on the economy and worsen an already bad economic environment for American families. The "Inflation Reduction Act" will drive us deeper into a recession, reason enough to vote against this spending package. I will continue to fight this ill-timed and poorly conceived plan in Congress and work to protect the paychecks of hardworking Virginians and those whose savings are being eaten away by inflation.
Cline, R-Botetourt, represents Virginia's6th Congressional District, encompassing Roanoke and Lexington, in the U.S. House of Representatives.