Discover more from Letters from an American
August 16, 2022
This afternoon, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. Almost immediately, it will produce results. A 30% tax credit for energy-efficient windows, heat pumps, or newer models of appliances will lower people’s energy costs; the cost of drugs will be capped at $2,000 per year for people on Medicare; and health care premiums will fall for certain Americans. In the longer term, it will be easier for the country to switch to renewable energy, and wealthy Americans and corporations will bear more of the tax burden than they have paid since the 2017 Trump tax cuts.
“The Inflation Reduction Act is now law,” Biden tweeted, “Giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. Ensuring wealthy corporations pay their fair share in taxes. And taking the biggest step forward on climate in our history.”
“This is a BFD,” former President Barack Obama tweeted.
“Thanks, Obama,” Biden responded.
They can be forgiven their irreverence because this act is indeed a big deal. It is an astonishing cap to the legislation the Democrats have passed with their squeaky thin majority in Congress. They have passed the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and now this, the Inflation Reduction Act.
Since President Ronald Reagan told Americans, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” Republicans have focused on proving that private enterprise is more efficient than government at providing the things Americans need. That argument has depended on preventing the government from legislating or addressing the things that people care about.
In his year and a half in office, Biden has demonstrated the opposite: that government can work. The measures that Democrats, and those Republicans who are willing to work across the aisle, have passed are enormously popular: lower medical costs, including a provision finalized today for over-the-counter hearing aids; bridge repair; broadband access; and investment in science.
“I feel like the media is having a hard time metabolizing the fact that this congress has been historically productive,” Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) mused. “And acknowledging the size of these accomplishments, and the degree of difficulty,—it’s just hard to do accurately without sounding a bit left leaning.”
Democrats are demonstrating that the government is working, but for their ideology to make sense, the current-day Republican Party needs chaos. Chaos is what it is currently delivering.
Trump has continued to throw out more excuses for his theft of classified documents, recently suggesting his former chief of staff Mark Meadows is at fault for failing to organize a system to send documents to the National Archives and Records Administration and then suggesting that he had withheld the documents because he didn’t trust the “partisan Democrat appointees” who were “releasing thousands of his White House documents to the January 6 Committee in spite of his lawyers’ claims of executive privilege.”
Maggie Haberman at the New York Times broke the news today that Trump’s White House counsel and deputy White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone and Patrick F. Philbin, have talked to the FBI in the last few months about the stolen documents. According to two witnesses, when Philbin tried to get him to return documents to the National Archives and Records Administration, Trump said, “It’s not theirs, it’s mine.”
Josh Campbell, CNN’s national security and law enforcement correspondent, said that Trump loyalists’ attacks on the FBI for its role in searching Mar-a-Lago for the classified documents Trump stole have taken a toll. “The head of the FBI Agents Association tells me threats against the bureau are ‘real’ and ‘imminent,’” Campbell tweeted. “The organization is demanding political leaders unequivocally denounce these attacks, insisting: ‘There is NO justification for targeting law enforcement in the United States.’”
In the search to figure out how and why the text messages from Secret Service members from the time around January 6, 2021, were purged, Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, who hid the destruction from Congress for more than a year, today refused to step down from the investigation. He also said that he would not provide the documents lawmakers wanted to see, or permit House committees to interview his colleagues.
And yet, Trump’s hold on the Republican Party is strong enough that his chosen candidate defeated Representative Liz Cheney in today’s Wyoming primary by about 34 points. Cheney voted with Trump more than 90% of the time during his term, but she took a stand against him after his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. In a concession speech tonight, she told her supporters that two years ago she won the primary with 73% of the vote, and “could easily have done the same again. The path was clear. But it would have required that I go along with President Trump's lie about the 2020 election. It would have required that I enable his ongoing efforts to unravel a democratic system and attack the foundations of our Republic. That was a path I could not and would not take.”
She vowed to “do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office.”
Observers noted that the defeat of Cheney marks the passage of another establishment name from the ranks of Republican Party lawmakers. The Lincoln Project tweeted, “Tonight, the nation marks the end of the Republican Party. What remains shares the name and branding of the traditional GOP, but is in fact an authoritarian nationalist cult dedicated only to Donald Trump.”