'Yeah, we got rolled': Why GOP activists 'find it hard' to weaponize Biden’s climate bill
Some right-wing media pundits have furiously railed against the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, a massive $750 billion climate change/economy/health care bill that President Joe Biden signed into law on Tuesday, August 16. And plenty of Republicans have lambasted centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia for voting “yes” on the bill.
But all things considered, the Inflation Reduction Act hasn’t been nearly as big a story in right-wing media as the FBI, on August 8, executing a search warrant at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. And journalists Meridith McGraw and Caitlin Oprysko offer a possible reason why in an article published by Politico on August 22. The Mar-a-Lago search, they argue, pushes the “culture war” button in a way the Inflation Reduction Act doesn’t.
“Far from a singular lapse, last week’s split-screen of the Mar-a-Lago search and the passage of the IRA provided a telling portrait of pistons that move modern Republican politics,” McGraw and Oprysko explain. “Whereas conservative activism has, in past cycles, been driven by opposition to Democratic-authored policies or actions — from Obamacare to TARP— the modern version has been fed by culture-war issues and, more often than not, Trump himself.”
Cesar Ybarra, vice president of policy for the right-wing group FreedomWorks, laments that so far, the GOP hasn’t been able to weaponize the Inflation Reduction Act to the degree that he would like.
Ybarra told Politico, “Everything was moving so fast, the tax provisions were being debated on the fly; so, there was very little time for groups to do that in-depth grassroots pushback like we saw during Obamacare. To create buzz in this town and for it to penetrate across America, you need more time. So yeah, we got rolled.”
When Republicans enjoyed a massive red wave in the 2010 midterms and recaptured the U.S. House of Representatives, one of the things they had been attacking Democrats over was the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare — which passed that year. These days, Obamacare is popular and polls well, but in 2010, Republicans and the Tea Party movement were able to successfully weaponize it against Democrats. Then-President Barack Obama famously described that red wave as a “shellacking.”
But according to Matt Bennett of the centrist Democratic think tank Third Way, “You’re not having town halls with people screaming about Medicare drug negotiations. It’s very hard to object to a bill that invests a lot of money in clean energy.”
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