GOP opposition to climate-and-drug bill highlights party's twisted priorities

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (TNS)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks during a news conference following policy luncheons on Capitol Hill on June 7, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Senate Democrats over the weekend passed legislation to help industry and individual Americans move to cleaner energy, make corporations pay their fair share in taxes and lower prescription prices for struggling seniors, all while lowering the deficit and, potentially, inflation. Republicans’ sole contribution to this historic package was to keep insulin costs outrageously high for millions of diabetics. Voters should remember that contrast in priorities come November.

Assuming the House passes the measure later this month as expected, the package that squeaked by in the Senate on Sunday represents America’s first major legislation confronting climate change — and it does so in ways that won’t destroy the economy. It offers tax credits to incentivize Americans to buy electric cars, spurs investment in solar and wind power, and takes other approaches that are constructive rather than punitive.

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Democrats attempted to cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 per dose for people not covered by Medicare, in a bid to halt price-gouging by the pharmaceutical industry. Insulin prices are so high that some diabetics have died while trying to self-ration. Yet Senate Republicans astonishingly used a parliamentary maneuver to defeat the cap. For once, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley did the right thing, joining just six other Republicans siding with vulnerable Americans on this one issue (though not on the broader bill, which didn’t get a single GOP vote).

The bill is paid for with a 15% minimum tax for corporations, which too often today pay nothing. Unfortunately, the bill carves out a loophole for private equity firms — reportedly the price of support from Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. Fellow centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also managed to prevent an extension of the federal Child Tax Credit from being included in the bill.

Those unfortunate bits of political sausage-making notwithstanding, the measure will mean cleaner air, a more stable climate, lower drug prices for seniors and a more fair tax system for everyone. And Democrats had to shoehorn it through with no help from GOP obstructionists, whose singular priority is to deny any accomplishments to the other side. Even accomplishments that would help Republicans’ own constituents.

It’s difficult these days to get individual voters to look past partisan labels and consider what the two major parties actually accomplish to impact the lives of regular people. But anyone who believes that returning Congress to Republican control in this year’s midterms would be good for anyone other than polluters, Big Pharma and corporate tax scofflaws should look hard at what the GOP stood for when it stood against this landmark legislation.

— From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board (TNS).