The Inflation Reduction Act is nothing like the Green New Deal and is a sad end to that once promising movement. The most optimistic models expect a 40% reduction in carbon emissions, whereas doing nothing at all would get us 24-35%.

By Matt Huber, The Call

Many are heralding the Inflation Reduction Act, passed last Friday, as the largest piece of climate legislation in U.S. history.

The IRA entails $369 billion in climate spending, mostly in the form of tax credits for private energy production and consumer incentives for electric vehicles and appliances. This represents a mammoth decline in ambition from Biden’s original Build Back Better Act, a bill that initially involved $6 trillion in spending, but later was reduced to $3.5 trillion in order to win the support of Democratic holdouts in the Senate (Bernie’s proposed Green New Deal during his presidential primary campaign totalled $16 trillion). BBB not only addressed climate, but also ambitiously expanded the welfare state with provisions such as universal childcare and the inclusion of vision and dental in Medicare — now, these ambitious reforms have all been stripped out.

Democratic leadership at the White House

In terms of its climate impact, the most optimistic models expect the IRA will get us a 40% reduction in carbon emissions, whereas doing nothing at all would get us 24-35%.

The IRA can also be seen as an endpoint to an exciting movement for a Green New Deal. That movement began with the election of Donald Trump in 2016, crested with an explosion of energy in 2019, and now has culminated with a piece of legislation that David Wallace-Wells, in The New York Times, claims represents “a historic achievement for the climate left and a tribute to both its moral fervor and its political realism.”

Can this legislation be seen as vindication for the GND movement? While the package will certainly benefit energy companies, wealthy capitalists with high tax burdens who can take advantage of the tax credits, and middle class people looking to buy electric vehicles and heat pumps, the package fails to systematically create jobs and improve working-class lives, as the original 2019 GND resolution proposed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey envisioned.

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