Progressives elated after Joe Biden signs 'landmark' Inflation Reduction Act into law

Progressives elated after Joe Biden signs 'landmark' Inflation Reduction Act into law
Image via The White House.

Economic and climate justice groups on Tuesday applauded as U.S. President Joe Biden signed into law the Inflation Reducation Act, with advocates hailing the $740 billion investment in climate action, corporate tax reform, and healthcare as "landmark legislation" while they pledged to continue working to secure more ambitious reforms.

"It's law," Biden said as he signed the IRA, which includes an historic investment of $370 billion to expand renewable energy infrastructure, caps prescription drug costs for senior citizens, and pays for badly needed reforms by raising taxes on corporations.

As the bill was signed more than a year after Biden's original proposal for the Build Back Better Act, Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) said the IRA "is a reminder that we must never stop fighting to address the climate crisis — because our planet & future is at stake."

"This bill is the biggest step forward on climate ever," Biden told the crowd gathered at the White House for the signing.

Lisa Frank of Environment America's Washington legislative office applauded the president and the Democratic Party for taking a "huge step" toward reducing U.S. carbon emissions.

The law is "a start to, not the culmination of, our work to reduce global warming pollution and ensure clean air, clean water, and the preservation of open spaces," said Frank.

The Union of Concerned Scientists said that by offering tax credits and rebates for the use of renewable energy sources and creating an estimated nine million jobs over the next decade, the IRA "marks a win for future generations who deserve our best efforts to secure a safer and healthier world."

"More attention is still needed to address provisions included in the bill that could perpetuate harms communities face from fossil fuel pollution," added Johanna Chao Kreilic, president of the group. "The administration must follow up today's signing with strong environmental and public health rules that will help speed the transition to clean energy and reduce pollution that especially harms Black, Brown, Indigenous and low-income communities."

"Today's bill signing marks a success—one that we must build on in the months and years to come," Kreilic said.

The Sunrise Movement, led by young climate campaigners, called the law "a forced compromise between corporate oil lobbyists and young people who are fighting for a livable future," noting the IRA's continuation of oil and gas lease sales "is unacceptable, and will hurt the predominantly Black, brown, and poor communities on the frontlines of extraction."

The group also gave credit to campaigners who have pushed the Democratic Party to embrace the Green New Deal and adopt ambitious climate action.

"Today, it’s clear that young people have organized the impossible into existence," executive director Varshini Prakash said. "We sat in Speaker Pelosi’s office with [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] in 2018 to make climate action a political priority. We pushed until 23 out of 25 Democratic presidential candidates endorsed the Green New Deal—and until they understood climate and jobs were inextricably tied. We helped inspire record youth turnout after helping Biden write a more ambitious climate plan. And in 2021, we never let lawmakers forget they had an obligation to deliver climate legislation.

"Simply put, the movement for a Green New Deal created the conditions to make Biden's agenda and this climate investment possible," Prakash added. "Without the Green New Deal, there is no IRA."

Economic justice group Patriotic Millionaires praised the bill's provisions imposing taxes on corporate stock buybacks and other minimum taxes on large companies, as well as increased funding to hold wealthy tax dodgers accountable.

"The vast majority of working Americans pay every cent they owe in federal taxes—it’s time for wealthy criminal tax evaders to do the same," said Morris Pearl, chair of the group. "The American people are tired of doing their part daily to keep this country running while criminal tax evaders and corporate tax cheats pay nothing. The rich are required to pay the bare minimum back to the society responsible for their success, and the IRA will make them do just that."

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