While Colorado’s U.S. senators are taking a victory lap after passing a bill heralded as the largest climate change investment in history, the Republican nominee challenging Michael Bennet is labeling it a tax on lower-income Americans.
Bennet and U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, both Democrats, celebrated the Inflation Reduction Act’s passage of their chamber at City Park Monday afternoon. Earlier in the day, O’Dea and the rest of the Republican slate for statewide office held a press conference outside his business where he slammed it.
Senate Democrats boast the bill only raises taxes on high income earners and the largest corporations, while pushing down carbon emissions by 40% in the next decade, largely through new incentives. It also achieves a longstanding goal of the party in allowing Medicare to negotiate pharmaceutical prices.
“This is the single greatest climate rescue initiative in the history of the planet,” Hickenlooper said Tuesday afternoon. He was credited for keeping negotiations on the bill going long after many pundits had written it off. “No other country has ever done something this massive. But we can’t just pat ourselves on the back. This isn’t the end of anything. It’s the beginning.”
The bill also establishes a 15% minimum tax on the country’s largest corporations. Bennet heralded the provision as a reversal of trickle-down economics that has long dominated economic theory on the right, including tax cuts signed by President Donald Trump in 2017.
However, that tax has been criticized by some economists as extra costs that will end up being passed on to consumers and workers, according to CNBC. They cite an analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation. That has earned its own rebuttal as not accounting for subsidies and cost controls on things like medication that will benefit people, the financial network reported.
“The fun part about this is, you can get a different answer depending on who you ask,” John Buhl, an analyst at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, told CNBC.
O’Dea is clear on where he stands. He noted it’s still not necessarily the final bill — it still needs to pass the House, at least — but that there aren’t any provisions he’s seen that he’s really liked.
“It’s a tax, and working Americans right now, in a recession, they can’t afford a tax,” O’Dea said Tuesday morning. “That’s my main beef with it. We don’t need to be spending more money and then collecting it from working Americans right here in Colorado. So it’s a tax.”
In an oft-repeated campaign line, O’Dea called Bennet a “rubber stamp” for Democratic President Joe Biden, and blamed rising inflation and other woes on Democratic spending and policy.
Bennet pushed back, calling any reports that the bill is a tax on working people “an abject lie.”
“The American people are completely clear about how unfair the tax code is to them; how rigged it is against them,” Bennet said. “This tax that my opponents are complaining about, the school teachers in Denver pay more tax than 15%.”
Bennet listed a failure to reverse the tax cuts signed by Trump, which he characterized as mostly benefiting the very wealthiest Americans, as a regret in the way the bill shaped up.
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