Wisconsin-based labor unions and interest groups are calling for Congress to take action on inflation. They’re advocating for the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 in the U.S. Senate.
The bill was introduced last week by Senator Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. It is considered a scaled-down version of the Build Back Better Act, which died in the Senate due to opposition from Manchin. As the name suggests, the new bill’s focus is to combat recent inflation, which according to the U.S. Department of Labor is at 9.1%.
Morgan Grunow is part of For Our Future Wisconsin, a liberal advocacy group based in Madison. Speaking at the Madison Labor Temple during a press conference today, Grunow emphasized that the bill would reduce the cost of healthcare.
“With this bill, Wisconsinites will finally have access to the healthcare they need to stay alive and healthy,” said Grunow. “The bill reduces healthcare premiums by extending the Affordable Care Act healthcare tax credits that were included in the American Rescue Plan for an additional three years. Additionally, prescription drugs will become less expensive because Medicare will be allowed to negotiate drug prices, something it has been unable to do for the past twenty years.”
Dr. Laurel Mark is a recently retired physician and currently co-chairs Wisconsin’s chapter of the organization Physicians for a National Health Program. She recounted patients not seeking treatments due to an inability to afford them.
“Almost every day in my forty years in clinical practice, I had to deal with the consequences of this, when patients couldn’t afford the care that they needed,” said Dr. Mark. “It’s really frustrating to know what the right treatment is and not be able to deliver it because of money. When I think about policies that lead to our current medication prices, I think about my patients who couldn’t afford the treatments that would help them.”
Grunow – of For Our Future Wisconsin – also spoke about the investments in clean energy the bill makes.
“On energy and climate, this bill will provide tax credits and investments for energy projects and create thousands of new jobs and lower energy costs in the future, all of which will improve our energy security, tackle our climate crisis, and boost our clean energy economy.”
Sarah Godlewski, Wisconsin’s state treasurer who last week ended her campaign in the packed Democratic primary for U.S. Senator, also spoke today. She broke down the funding for the bill.
“And then the final big piece of all of this is, well how are we gonna pay for it? The way that we should’ve been paying for this from the very beginning is making sure corporations pay their fair share, and closing inevitable tax loopholes. So what does this look like? Well for starters, we’re finally gonna be taxing major corporations that are making over a billion dollars in sales at 15%. And these are corporations that are typically getting off scot-free, and we haven’t been doing anything about it.”
Godlewski also advocated for another component of the bill, strengthening the IRS’s ability and resources to enforce tax codes.
“We know for so long that IRS enforcement has been gutted. And as a result, corporations and wealthy individuals have not been held accountable to the taxes that they owe. And so this move will bring, we’re looking at over $200 billion back.”
When asked about the amount of time it would take for Americans to see the decrease in inflation the bill promises, Godlewski said she anticipates mixed results.
“Some of these things can be kind of turned on with a switch, and some of them are gonna take just a little bit more time. But I think the big thing here is, at the end of the day, Congress is doing something now because they have for so long been talking about it. And when we are seeing inflation now at almost 9%, higher than, I mean it hasn’t been this high since I was born. And we’ve got to be doing something about it.”
In a statement yesterday, Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin announced her support for the bill. Republican Senator Ron Johnson voiced his opposition to it in an interview on Fox Business that same day.
Photo by Reid Kamhi / WORT News Department