Biden’s Climate-Change Bill Won’t Tax the Middle Class
Estimating these effects is useful, but are they a “tax increase” on workers? Almost any government policy will have an adverse effect on the income of someone, somewhere; is everything the government does a tax increase?
Furthermore, if we’re going to consider the indirect effect on family incomes of legislation that doesn’t directly affect their taxes, why not consider the whole act, not just part of it? The J.C.T. table that Republicans are citing notes that it excludes the impact of several major pieces of the bill that would help families, in ways ranging from reduced drug costs and larger health insurance subsidies to clean-energy incentives. Add those in and the middle class almost surely ends up ahead.
Another point I haven’t seen emphasized is that the bill would probably reduce air pollution in general, not just greenhouse gas emissions, which would have major health benefits — and monetary benefits, too.
Wait, there’s more. The J.C.T. assumes that a significant part of the revenue to be gained from taxing corporations would eventually come out of wages. That’s an area of intense academic debate, but there are good reasons to believe that when you’re cracking down on tax avoidance the effect on wages is actually minimal.
Finally, despite all the ways the J.C.T. analysis tilts the playing field against the Inflation Reduction Act, the claimed increase in middle-class taxes is tiny. For example, according to the J.C.T., the federal tax rate on families earning between $50,000 and $75,000 a year would rise from 13.0 percent to … 13.1 percent.
So the G.O.P. attack on this proposal is, in a word, pathetic. The only way it might gain traction is if the media bothsides its reporting, failing to inform news consumers that Republican claims about the bill are, in fact, untrue. That is, unfortunately, a real possibility. Any news report to the effect that “Republicans say the bill would raise middle-class taxes” that doesn’t point out that this claim is false betrays the public interest.