Business Groups Decry Impact Of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act

Business Groups Decry Impact Of Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act

By Terri Jo Neff |

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is hoping the U.S. House of Representatives takes a hard look at H.R. 5376, which was formerly known as the Build Back Better Act until being recently rechristened as the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

“Arizona job creators oppose the vast majority of the provisions in this bill,” Chamber CEO Danny Seiden said Sunday after the U.S. Senate passed the legislation on party lines. “This bill will not reduce inflation and it will not make the U.S. economy more competitive. Renaming a massive tax and spending bill the Inflation Reduction Act does not improve it.”

Seiden says Sen. Kyrsten Sinema met with Arizona business stakeholders to hear their concerns and did help blunt some of the more harmful provisions, especially those which impact manufacturing businesses already doubly hit by inflation and supply chain disruptions

He also acknowledged there are a few beneficial elements of H.R. 5376 such as provisions which encourage continued business investment and provide significant drought resiliency funding to promote a water secure future.

But despite some of “positive aspects,” Seiden insists H.R. 5376 leaves much to be desired. Which is why he and other state business leaders are calling on Arizona’s nine Representatives to take a closer look at the bill in advance of an expected Aug. 12 vote.

“With the bill headed to the House, we would encourage the Arizona delegation to consider the legislation’s negative effect on Arizona jobs,” Seiden said, adding that that renaming the unpopular Build Back Better Act does not improve the fact the legislation is a massive tax and spending bill.

The legislation is estimated to raise $740 billion in additional revenue from new taxes as well as more enforcement of existing tax laws. It also authorizes $430 billion in new spending, although a more thorough analysis by the Congressional Budget Office has not been completed.

One thing the CBO already knows, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders said on the Senate Floor, is that what he labeled the “so-called” Inflation Reduction Act will have “a minimal impact on inflation.”

The CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers also expressed disappointment with H.R. 5376. According to Jay Timmons, the Inflation Reduction Act will stifle manufacturing investment in America, undermining the very businesses which kept America’s economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To be sure, (the bill) was worse before Sen. Sinema worked to protect some areas of manufacturing investment,” Timmons said. “But the final bill is still bad policy and will harm our ability to compete in a global economy.”

Also speaking out against H.R. 5376 is the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, whose members will be directly impacted by Medicare drug price controls included in the legislation.

“They say they’re fighting inflation, but the Biden administration’s own data show that prescription medicines are not fueling inflation,” said PhRMA CEO Stephen Ubl. “And they say the bill won’t harm innovation, but various experts, biotech investors and patient advocates agree that this bill will lead to fewer new cures and treatments for patients battling cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.”

Senators Kelly, Sinema Agree To Biden’s Controversial Inflation Reduction Act

Senators Kelly, Sinema Agree To Biden’s Controversial Inflation Reduction Act

By Corinne Murdock |

Over the weekend, Arizona’s two Democratic senators, Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, fell in line with their party and backed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA passed the Senate on Sunday along party lines, 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. 

The IRA, a repackaged version of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) Act, projected well over $700 billion in revenue. However, some analysts have warned that the IRA will have the opposite desired effect on job creation, inflation and deficit reduction, incomes, tax rates, and drug prices.

The two senators opposed amendments to the IRA that would fund $500 million to finish the border wall, approve coal leases, increase domestic oil production in order to lower gas prices, protect those making under $400,000 from additional tax audits, limit price controls for treatments for conditions like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, require oil and gas lease sales in the outer Continental Shelf, provide discounted insulin for low and middle-income Americans, remove $45 million in climate-related expenditures, retain Title 42, strike a tax increase resulting in higher energy prices for those earning under $400,000, hire more Border Patrol agents, reduce drug prices, invest in violent crime prevention, and prohibit tax credits for electric vehicles built with slave labor. 

The IRA will also expand the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by up to 87,000 more employees through an $80 billion investment. That will make the IRS bigger than the Pentagon, State Department, FBI, and Border Patrol combined, as noted by Washington Free Beacon. IRS data reveals that over half of all IRS audits in 2021 focused on taxpayers making less than $75,000 a year. 

All Democrats, including Kelly and Sinema, rejected an amendment to remove provisions expanding the IRS.

Arizonans gathered on Saturday in Phoenix to protest Sinema and Kelly’s support of the bill. FreedomWorks Grassroots Director and Co-founder of EZAZ.org Merissa Hamilton, who helped organize the protest, criticized Sinema and Kelly for supporting the IRS increase, which she called an “inquisition” comparable to the treatment of ideological opponents under the Obama administration.

“Clearly, your IRS inquisitions are to target us like you did the Obama-Biden administration, and we have had enough,” said Hamilton. “We’re already in the middle of a recession — I know it’s tough for you to say the “r” word, but it’s time for you to take responsibility, represent Arizona, and stop betraying us.”

An amendment to prevent oil sales to China was ruled out of order by Senate chair after Kelly and Sinema joined the majority of Democrats to waive it. 

Sinema insisted that the IRA would “help Arizonans build better lives” through lowered prices on goods and services, accessible health care, and water and energy security. Sinema promised that the IRA would cause Arizona’s economy to improve.

As AZ Free News reported last week, Sinema’s original holdout on the IRA concerned its carried tax provision. Democratic leadership agreed to drop that provision in order to earn her vote. 

Kelly elaborated further on the rationale for the Arizona senators’ votes. He said that the IRA will lower prescription drug costs, implement funding to effectively combat drought and “climate change,” and reduce the deficit. Kelly promised that the IRA wouldn’t result in increased taxes for small businesses and middle-class Arizonans. 

“When I meet with Arizonans and small businesses across our state, the top concern I hear about is rising costs,” said Kelly. “This is going to lower costs for health care, prescription drugs, and energy while creating great-paying jobs in Arizona.”

Notable opposition to the IRA came from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The senator criticized the IRA for not doing enough to help the working class, and proposed amendments to modify the bill that were roundly rejected, 99-1. However, Sanders ultimately fell in line with the Democratic Party and voted for the bill.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Hollywood Movie Star Threatens to Primary Senator Sinema Over Corporate Tax Bill

Hollywood Movie Star Threatens to Primary Senator Sinema Over Corporate Tax Bill

By Corinne Murdock |

George Takei, of “Star Trek” fame, threatened to remove Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) from office if she opposes President Joe Biden’s bill raising corporate taxes. 

The legislation in question, the 725-page Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022, would impose a 15 percent minimum tax on corporations with income of $1 billion or more and closure of a carried interest provision in the tax code. The legislation is a repackaged version of Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) Act. It gained momentum after earning Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) support last week, who held out previously over concerns that it would exacerbate inflation.

Takei is a New Yorker and prominent LGBTQ+ activist; Sinema’s the Senate’s first bisexual member. 

Sinema’s opposition stands in the way of Democrats’ budget reconciliation — the only way Biden can have his bill passed without Republican support. 

Costing around $433 billion, the IRA would invest $369 billion into renewable energy and climate change programs, enforce price controls on prescription medication, allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices and caps out-of-pocket cost to $2,000, expand the IRS budget by $124 billion, and extend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while lowering premiums. 

Democratic leadership claimed that the IRA would raise $739 billion in revenues, effectively reducing the deficit by over $300 billion and countering the historic high inflation (9.1 percent) plaguing the nation currently. In the Democrats’ one-page summary of the IRA, they claimed that the IRA wouldn’t result in any new taxes on families making $400,000 or less, and no new taxes on small businesses.

The Tax Foundation estimated that the IRA would eliminate about 30,000 jobs and reduce economic output and after-tax wages in the long run. They identified the 15 percent minimum tax on corporations as the main cause for projected job reduction.

On Tuesday, Sinema spoke with Arizona Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Danny Seiden about the legislation. 

Seiden and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce oppose the bill. They insist that the IRA would raise taxes and disincentivize businesses’ growth. 

On Wednesday, Axios reported that sources close to Sinema revealed that the senator may support the IRA if it’s expanded to include provisions improving drought and water security in the Southwest. Politico sources close to Sinema put a price tag to that request: $5 billion. 

Arizona has been in a long-term drought for nearly 30 years, a status worsened by the recent reclassification of the Colorado River to Tier One drought status. That reduced Arizona’s water allotment, and prompted Governor Doug Ducey to seek out Israeli desalination technology to counter the drought.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Senators Sinema, Kelly Announce Gun Control Effort Alongside 10 Republicans

Senators Sinema, Kelly Announce Gun Control Effort Alongside 10 Republicans

By Corinne Murdock |

On Sunday, Arizona’s two Democratic senators announced a sweeping gun control proposal to curb gun ownership of the mentally ill and domestic abusers, as well as expand mental health and school safety programs. 

The proposal hasn’t been introduced as formal legislation, let alone a formal, standalone document. It proposes to prevent court-ruled dangers to the public from obtaining firearms; expand community behavioral health centers, mental health and suicide prevention programs in communities, schools, and telehealth networks, and other similar community support services; add convicted domestic violence abusers and those with domestic violence restraining orders to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS); increase funding for K-12 school safety programs and training; increase punishment for evading firearm dealer licensing requirements and for illegal straw purchasing and trafficking; and require juvenile and mental health background checks for firearm buyers under 21 years old. 

The legislation is a bipartisan effort, with 10 senators from each party issuing support. Republican senators who signed on were Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Burr (R-NC), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Rob Portman (R-OH), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Mitt Romney (R-UT). 

Democrats who signed onto the proposal were Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Joe Manchin (D-WV).

One independent, Senator Angus King (I-ME), agreed to the proposal. 

This latest gun control proposal comes less than three weeks after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. 

In a statement, President Joe Biden commended Sinema for the legislation specifically, along with Cornyn and Tillis.

“Obviously, it does not do everything I think is needed, but it reflects important steps in the right direction, and would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades,” stated Biden. “Each day that passes, more children are killed in this country: the sooner it comes to my desk, the sooner I can sign it, and the sooner we can use these measures to save lives.”

According to the CDC’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) latest data, there were over 45,200 total firearm deaths in 2020. Nearly 24,300 of those deaths were suicides, nearly 19,400 were homicides, just over 600 were legal intervention, and 535 were unintentional. 400 firearm deaths had an undetermined intent. 

A vast majority of the firearm deaths occurred in males: nearly 39,000 versus just over 6,200 females. As for race, about twice the number of white men were killed by firearms in 2020 over black men. 21,000 of the men who died were white, non-Hispanic males; over 12,500 were Black, non-Hispanic males; and just under 4,200 were white Hispanic males. 

Just under 3,900 of the women who died were white, non-Hispanic females; nearly 1,600 were Black, non-Hispanic females; and over 500 were white Hispanic females.

Blue counties accounted for the top ten highest firearm death rates of all counties in the country. They’ve been ranked below from the greatest to least number of homicides.

  • Cook County, Illinois: 82 percent were homicides, or 862 out of 1040 deaths; Biden won with over 74 percent of the vote in the 2020 presidential election.
  • Los Angeles County, California: over 62 percent, or 524 of 837 deaths; Biden won with 71 percent of the vote.
  • Harris County, Texas: over 61 percent were homicides, or 475 of 773 deaths; Biden won with over 56 percent of the vote. 
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: over 84 percent were homicides, or 453 of 538 deaths; Biden won with over 81 percent of the vote. 
  • Wayne County, Michigan: over 75 percent were homicides, or 344 of 458 deaths; Biden won with over 68 percent of the vote.
  • Dallas County, Texas: nearly 61 percent were homicides, or 251 of 412 deaths; Biden won with over 65 percent of the vote.
  • Maricopa County, Arizona: over 35 percent were homicides, or 249 of 702 deaths; Biden won with over 50 percent of the vote.
  • Marion County, Indiana: 69 percent were homicides, or 219 of 317 deaths; Biden won with nearly 64 percent of the vote.
  • Miami-Dade County, Florida: 64 percent were homicides, or 208 of 325 deaths; Biden won with over 53 percent of the vote.
  • Tarrant County, Texas: over 45 percent were homicides, or 140 of 309 deaths; Biden won with over 49 percent of the vote. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Senator Sinema Pledged to Vote for Ketanji Brown Jackson Hours Before Confirmation

Senator Sinema Pledged to Vote for Ketanji Brown Jackson Hours Before Confirmation

By Corinne Murdock |

Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) promised to vote for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson about two hours before the Senate voted to confirm her.  

Sinema’s remarks mirrored those issued earlier this week by Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ). Sinema emphasized Jackson’s amount of trial court experience, though she didn’t delve into the details of Jackson’s more controversial cases involving violent criminals like child rapists. 

“Judge Jackson brings to the bench a wealth of knowledge, more trial court experience than all other current Supreme Court Justices combined, a commitment to respect precedent, and a proven independent, pragmatic approach to judicial decisions. Judge Jackson has exceptional qualifications and will serve our country well in the years to come,” wrote Sinema. 

The Senate Republicans known within greater GOP circles as “Republicans In Name Only,” or “RINOs,” were the ones who rejected their party’s stance to confirm Jackson: Mitt Romney (R-UT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AL), and Susan Collins (R-ME). 

In the weeks before Jackson’s appointment, reporters discovered that the White House briefings of Jackson’s rulings in which she administered punishments below sentencing guidelines excluded the more controversial cases.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.