Biden Signs Inflation Reduction Act. Now Come the Messaging Battles.

Biden Signs Inflation Reduction Act. Now Come the Messaging Battles.

Gripas Yuri/ABACA

President Joe Biden on Tuesday afternoon signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats’ sweeping, hard-fought package of measures to address climate change, lower health care costs and raise taxes on corporations.

The battle to enact the legislation may be over, but the battle to define it is not.

“With this law, the American people won and the special interests lost,” Biden said at a celebratory event at the White House. He added:

“Let’s be clear: In this historic moment, Democrats sided with the American people and every single Republican in the Congress sided with the special interests in this vote. Every single one. In fact, the big drug companies spent nearly $100 million to defeat this bill — $100 million — and remember, every single Republican in Congress voted against this bill. Every single Republican in Congress voted against lowering prescription drug prices, against lowering health-care costs, against the fairer tax system. Every single Republican, every single one, voted against tackling the climate crisis, against lowering our energy costs, against creating good-paying jobs.”

Republicans, for their part, have criticized Democrats for raising taxes and increasing government spending. They have argued — with support from some analysts — that the law will do little to combat inflation. They have also lobbed misleading attacks claiming that the additional funding provided in the legislation for the Internal Revenue Service, some $80 billion over 10 years, will fund an army of auditors set to spy on average Americans (see more on this below).

In his speech and a related op-ed at Yahoo News, Biden sought to make the case that Democrats have shown government can work for working Americans. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) hammered the same point. “For anyone who thought Washington was broken and couldn’t do big things,” he said Tuesday, “Democrats have shown real change is possible.”

The bottom line: Democrats will face some challenges in selling the public on the new law, given that some key elements won’t take effect for some time. But Biden advisers said in a memo that internal administration polling found that the legislation is popular when framed as lowering the cost of health care, prescription drugs and utility bills, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Quote of the Day

“Joe, I never had a doubt.” 

– President Biden to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) at Tuesday’s bill signing. Manchin, the centrist senator whose vote was key in passing the Inflation Reduction Act, had seemingly killed Democrats’ economic and climate agenda multiple times over more than a year of negotiations. After singing the bill, Biden handed the pen to Manchin.