Title: Joe Manchin's Travesty
BYLINE: By Rich Lowry
Congress has never cared much about truth-in-labeling, but even by its standards, "The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022" is laughably absurd.
The deal reached by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is getting puffed up by the media as a presidency-revitalizing achievement for President Joe Biden, when in reality it is the detritus of his stymied legislative agenda hastily thrown together in an incoherent muddle, under a deceptive name.
A signature of Biden's legislative strategy has been pursuing sweeping legislation that has nothing to do with the actual concerns of voters. Worried about inflation? Don't worry, we have a partisan, enormously ambitious voting rights bill, police reform bill, or new multi-trillion-dollar spending bill just for you.
Thankfully, Manchin significantly bid down what Biden and the rest of the party initially wanted to spend on so-called "Build Back Better." Otherwise, the new deal is as much of a non sequitur as ever. At a time of inflation, it offers hundreds of billions of new spending. As the economy dips into a recession or close to one, it offers hundreds of billions in new taxes. And its main element is more green energy spending, when the climate is far down the priority list for voters.
None of this makes much sense. According to the estimate of the Penn Wharton Budget Model, the act would very slightly increase inflation in the near-term, when inflation is a problem, and very slightly decrease it after 2024, when -- one hopes -- it will already have fallen.
That's just some random model, you say? Well, Manchin used to rely on it.
Manchin brags about the $300 billion in deficit reduction over 10 years, which is supposed to be one of the bill's counterinflationary bragging points. Just a week or so ago, though, the senator voted for the Senate's $280 billion "Chips and Science" bill. What the West Virginia solon giveth with one hand, he taketh away with another.
Surely, Democrats will keep the new spending coming to the extent they can.
Manchin deserves credit for sounding the alarm about inflation when Democrats were still in denial. Nonetheless, his own record isn't exactly sterling. Last year, he voted for the $1.9 billion "rescue plan" that had some role in worsening inflation. Now, he claims to be tackling this inflation via fiscal rectitude while he freely spends more money.