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Inflation-cutting laws will benefit seniors and small business owners, Stabenow says

Quinn Kleinfelter

The Democratic Party is in a rough political climate for the party, but has hopes of a much-needed victory.

The Inflation Control Act may be the most important law passed under the Biden administration. Among other things, it aims to make prescription drugs more affordable and limit climate change.

Republicans accuse the bill of forcing businesses to raise prices and potentially force job cuts, thereby increasing inflation rather than lowering it. In fact, Republicans plan to use that rationale as a rallying cry for candidates in the upcoming midterm elections.

But Democrats like Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan are calling the bill a win for seniors and a win for small business owners.

Stabenow says the bill also proves that all Democrats in the Senate can actually cooperate on the agenda.

Listen up: Stabenow outlines the positives included in the Inflation Reduction Act and the ones removed.

Read an excerpt from Stabenow’s interview with WDET’s Quinn Klinefelter below. Edited for clarity.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Democrat, Michigan): we pay the highest prices in the world [for medications], literally about three times that of other countries. Just crossing the bridge to Canada reduces the price of prescription drugs by about 40%. Still, pharmaceutical companies are among the most profitable in the world. And we see them spending 10x more on buybacks than they do on research. The bill would allow Medicare to negotiate the best price for the first time. Even though they are the country’s largest buyers, the law prohibits them from negotiating. Medicare will be able to negotiate the best price, and the price will come down. Additionally, if you have diabetes, your monthly out-of-pocket is limited to $35 per month. This is very expensive. About one in three Medicare subscribers has diabetes. So this is a very big problem. And keep the cost increase below the inflation rate. Otherwise, pharmaceutical companies will be punished. Overall, this reduces costs. And it’s time.

Quinn Kleinfelter, WDET News: This is called the Inflation Reduction Act. Some Republicans argue that the new business tax included in the law will force businesses to raise prices, possibly cutting jobs or limiting new hires. how would you answer that?

The measure does not tax small businesses or individuals making less than $400,000 a year. This is by no means a small amount. But if you’re a millionaire and have avoided paying taxes, you’ll have to pay your fair share. This is very important. We are basically working on labor costs, such as prescription drugs and electricity bills. And we are watching climate change. Climate change is hitting us all. One of the things that drives me is that we now know that the Great Lakes are warming faster than the oceans. And you can see all the effects around Michigan. In fact, Lake Superior is one of her five lakes warming fastest in the world, and quite frightening.The bill will give key incentives [environmentally-friendly] Battery production has returned to the United States due to manufacturing, the rise of electric vehicles, and the rise of solar and wind power. This is a lot of work. It helps farmers reduce carbon pollution and maintain the carbon in the soil to be able to have healthy soil, but not in the air. Prevents dangerous atmospheric methane emissions. The bill is expected to reduce pollution, or carbon emissions, by 14% over the next eight years. This is huge. So we all have to rely on this. And this is the first major step in doing that.

Some automakers say tax credits for electric vehicles, in particular, may not be as effective as some had hoped, as they rely on buying cars with U.S.-made batteries. I hear you are concerned. Nothing is currently being built here. And that could possibly limit the amount of credit customers can actually get. Is that a valid concern?

I have worked closely with car manufacturers. So my only disappointment is the way this is approached. And this is actually US Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) who was the driving force behind this bill. He was never a proponent of electric cars. And basically, he designed a credit that’s going to be very difficult when it’s fully implemented that auto companies will be able to offer it to their customers for at least five years. We all want these batteries to be produced in the United States. We want to get rid of all materials from China. That’s what the manufacturing tax credit is all about. But for consumers, it won’t be until next year that up to $7,500 in consumer credit will be fully available to purchase a fully electric vehicle. But then, when these very limited provisions apply, the credit will be unavailable for several years.

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin meets with reporters at the Washington State Capitol on August 1, 2022.

This seems to be a phrase that comes up a lot these days, especially among Democrats. “Without Senator Manchin, we could have done this.” [because of] Sen. Kirsten Cinema (D-Arizona)

right. It was basically a draw in the 50-50 Senate, and there were no Republicans in the field [the Inflation Reduction Act]That’s why we needed all the Democrats. But we made it through.

Not only does the new law provide Medicare with more services, it also helps people with disabilities. But some disability advocates question why home-based and community-based services, originally included in the Build Back Better Plan, were exempt from the Inflation Reduction Act. Can you tell me how it happened?

Well, I strongly support home care and community care provisions. I have been a co-sponsor for years and now lead a home health care effort. 50 votes were required, but he did not support the introduction of this package. So this is an unfinished business. It definitely needs to be done. And in governance and politics it is the art of possibility. And we are doing what we can. This is really, really important. Reducing the price of prescription drugs for everyone in Medicare, including people with disabilities, is critical. Other care provisions are also important. You’ll have to come back and complete them later.

Was Manchin against home-based community services for the disabled?

He didn’t want it included in this law.

Photo credit: Elise Amendola/AP

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  • Quinn Klinefelter is Senior News Editor at 101.9 WDET. In 1996, when he stood up for interviewing then-Senator Bob Dole about the presidential campaign, he was literally at the top of the news.

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