A long overdue step

In what has been lauded as an “election year win” for Democrats, Senate Democrats on Sunday successfully pushed through their “Inflation Reduction Act,” passing the estimated $740 billion package by a margin of 51-to-50 — Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote.

The jury’s still out on whether or not this “Inflation Reduction Act” will actually do what its title suggests, provided it passes in the House later this week. And the price tag … well, that speaks for itself, though it’s worth noting that it’s at least one-tenth the size of President Joe Biden’s proposed $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” plan.

The Inflation Reduction Act includes a variety of things: It would allow Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription medications with drugmakers, cap out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors on Medicare to $2,000 per year, make sure seniors are able to get vaccines for free, cap the price of insulin at $35 per month for Medicare patients, extend subsidies that lowered insurance premiums for many Americans in 2021, impose a new 15% minimum tax on profits reported by corporations, and perhaps most notably, it includes what could be a landmark climate law for this country.

The Inflation Reduction Act includes nearly $375 billion in funding and tax incentives for clean energy and greenhouse gas reduction measures over the next decade, an investment that aims to take steps toward avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.

If it passes the House, this part of the Inflation Reduction Act would be a win for everyone, regardless of political affiliation. And it’s a long time coming.

As we learned in 2010, upon the release of presidential records by the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, a former New York senator and advisor to President Richard Nixon — Daniel Patrick Moynihan — urged the president of the United States back in September 1969 to “get involved” with the “carbon dioxide problem.”

“It is now pretty clearly agreed that the CO2 content will rise 25% by 2000,” Moynihan wrote in a memo. “This could increase the average temperature near the Earth’s surface by 7 degrees Fahrenheit. This in turn could raise the level of the sea by 10 feet. Goodbye New York. Goodbye Washington, for that matter.”

Yes, the federal government was aware of this problem more than five decades ago, and one can only imagine what our planet would look like now if the United States had led the world through substantial and preventative, rather than reactionary, climate legislation all those years ago.

The new law, if enacted, still wouldn’t be enough on its own to solve the world’s climate woes and sidestep the most devastating effects of climate change. The bill includes investments in green energy, but it also includes a wide set of concessions to the fossil fuel industry. Local green groups, including the Adirondack Council, have shared their disappointment about parts of this bill.

“The bill isn’t perfect, but it is far better than anything Congress has done to date to combat climate change and build a more sustainable future for our children and grandchildren,” Adirondack Council Executive Director Willie Janeway said in a statement Monday.

We agree. We believe this part of the bill is largely a step in the right direction and the House should pass this bill. It’s long past time to take substantial steps to address the “carbon dioxide problem.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly said Moynihan was involved with Watergate. The Enterprise regrets the error.


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