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Sen. Michael Bennet and Democrats tout Inflation Reduction Act amid GOP opposition

Colorado US Sens. Michael Bennet (left) and John Hickenlooper pitch the “Inflation Reduction Act” at City Park on Tuesday. Photo: John Frank/Axios

Democrats call it “the most important climate legislation in the world.”

  • Republicans label it a tax hike.

State of play: The battle to define the $740 billion tax, climate and health care package is taking center stage in Colorado, where US Sen. Michael Bennet, one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents going into the midterms, is seeking re-election.

  • Democrats consider the reconciliation deal — known as the Inflation Reduction Act — their answer to voter concerns about inflated prices, climate change and rising health care costs.
  • Republicans are decrying the measure as out-of-control spending that will only increase taxes.

Why it matters: How voters ultimately view the legislation could become a defining factor in November’s midterm elections.

Zoom in: Bennet joined Colorado US Sen. John Hickenlooper and advocates Tuesday in Denver for a “celebration” of the bill’s passage in the Senate.

  • Bennet and others defended the tax hikes in the measure, saying they would only impact the wealthiest companies and individuals. Teachers pay more in taxes than some of these businesses, the senator said.
  • The bill’s advocates highlighted extended health care subsidies, caps on prescription drug costs for seniors and efforts to incentivize a transition away from fossil fuels.

What they’re saying: “This bill is going to be hugely popular with the American people,” Bennet said.

  • Earlier in the day, Republicans held their own event to push back against the legislation and President Biden’s agenda. “We don’t need to be spending more money and collecting it from working Americans here in Colorado,” Republican US Senate challenger Joe O’Dea said.
  • O’Dea told Axios Denver: “I didn’t see anything in there that I like.”

Reality check: The reconciliation package would impose a 15% corporate minimum tax only on certain businesses that make $1 billion or more in revenue annually, and a 1% excise tax on stock buybacks.

  • That means it won’t directly impact middle-class Americans, as Republicans claim, although there could be secondary effects on consumers, experts say.
  • A recent analysis suggesting the tax burden would increase 1% for those earning $100,000 or less — often cited by Republicans — did not take into account other tax breaks and subsidies in the bill, which experts say could neutralize or reverse the impact.

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