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Did Democrats Just Save Civilization?


On climate, Biden got almost everything he wanted.
They really did it. The Inflation Reduction Act, which is mainly a climate change bill with a side helping of health reform, passed the Senate on Sunday; by all accounts it will easily pass the House, so it’s about to become law.
This is a very big deal. The act isn’t, by itself, enough to avert climate disaster. But it’s a huge step in the right direction, and sets the stage for more action in the years ahead. It will catalyze progress in green technology; its economic benefits will make passing additional legislation easier; it gives the United States the credibility it needs to lead a global effort to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
There are, of course, cynics eager to denigrate the achievement. Some on the left rushed to dismiss the bill as a giveaway to the fossil fuel industry posing as environmental action. More important, Republicans — who unanimously opposed the legislation — are shouting the usual things they shout: Big spending! Inflation!
But actual experts on energy and the environment are giddy over what has been accomplished, and serious economists aren’t worried about the effect on inflation.
Start with the environmental side. Many people I talk to assume that President Biden’s environmental agenda, as contained in his original Build Back Better proposal, must have been greatly watered down in the legislation we actually got. After all, didn’t Democrats have to make big concessions to win over Senator Joe Manchin? Aren’t there important giveaways to fossil fuel interests, like aid for a controversial natural gas pipeline?
However, energy analysts believe that any adverse climate effect from these concessions will be swamped by the gains from tax credits for clean energy.

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