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U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed how Democrats’ proposed energy tax hikes would hurt Americans who are already suffering from high energy prices. Thune noted that the Democrats’ bill is wasteful and irresponsible and would do nothing to ease the economic pain that their policies have helped create.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, last week Democrats unveiled their so-called Inflation Reduction Act – a bill that will do nothing to reduce inflation, but will double down on Democrats’ wasteful government spending, along with imposing hundreds of billions in tax hikes.
“Hundreds of billions of dollars in tax hikes.
“Our economy has posted negative economic growth for the past two quarters, and Democrats think it’s a good idea to raise taxes on American businesses.
“Perhaps Democrats think that current prices aren’t high enough.
“Or that businesses aren’t struggling enough with the inflation Democrats helped create.
“The worst part, of course, is that a substantial part of the burden of these tax hikes will fall on ordinary Americans.
“Americans who are already struggling with historically high inflation.
“Americans who are seeing their grocery bills balloon and their rent skyrocket.
“Americans who are paying more than $4.00 per gallon every time they fill up their car.
“Now Democrats are going to pass tax hikes that will hit these Americans hard.
“A tax hike on businesses that will almost undoubtedly result in lower growth, lower wages, and fewer jobs.
“A tax hike on investment – investment we need to grow our economy and create opportunities for American workers.
“And tax hikes on energy production.
“Tax hikes on energy production – to the tune of $60 billion.
“Mr. President, as I mentioned, Americans are still, on average, paying more than $4.00 a gallon every time they go to fill up their cars – as they have been for months.
“Their electricity bills are up.
“The price for utility gas service is up – by almost 40 percent.
“And Democrats think now is a good time to raise taxes on oil and gas production.
“I guess maybe they’re hoping that they can force Americans off conventional energy by continuing to keep gas and energy prices high.
“And in case anyone was thinking that Democrats would be content with shutting down domestic production – with a methane tax, higher royalties, excise taxes, and costly permitting delays – and would rather Americans receive conventional energy from abroad – well, Democrats have a tax hike for that too.
“The Democrats’ bill would impose a new tax hike on U.S. refiners importing crude oil and petroleum products intended to make conventional energy prohibitively expensive.
“But of course Americans still need conventional energy – and that will continue to be true for a while yet no matter how much wishful thinking Democrats engage in.
“And Democrats’ energy tax hikes are setting ordinary Americans up to continue to suffer under high energy prices for the foreseeable future.
“So what are all these tax hikes for, Mr. President?
“What government spending is worth imposing tax hikes that run the risk of pushing our economy into a longer recession – or stagflation?
“Well, let me just review some of the “priorities” Democrats will be spending that tax hike money on.
“There’s $1.5 billion – billion – for a grant program to plant trees.
“And $1.9 billion for things like identifying gaps in tree canopy coverage.
“Identifying gaps in tree canopy coverage.
“There’s $1 billion for electric heavy-duty vehicles like garbage trucks.
“I’m not really sure why the federal government is going to be spending money on electric garbage trucks … or how that’s going to reduce inflation.
“There is $3 billion for the U.S. Postal Service to purchase zero-emission delivery vehicles.
“Quite a lot of money for an agency that is supposedly self-funded.
“There’s funding for road equity.
“All told, there is more than $60 billion in funding for ‘environmental justice.’
“That’s more than the federal government spent on highways in 2019.
“There’s also at least $30 billion in climate slush funds – part of which is allocated for, among other things, climate-related political activity.
“So in other words, Democrats are raising taxes on Americans so that they can provide federal funding for Green New Deal activism.
“And I haven’t even talked about all the tax credits for adopting Democrats’ preferred green energy technologies.
“There are tax credits for purchasing electric vehicles and for refitting windows and skylights and doors to meet Democrats’ required level of energy efficiency.
“Democrats are raising the tax burden on working Americans to pay for tax credits for wealthy Americans to purchase a brand-new electric vehicle – or do some home remodeling.
“Of course, these tax credits aren’t officially limited to wealthy Americans.
“But I’m hard-pressed to think of many working families who can afford to spend $60,000 on a new electric vehicle while inflation is at a 40-year high.
“Mr. President, I am a longtime supporter of clean energy.
“I come from a state that is leading the way toward cleaner and more efficient energy technologies.
“And I have worked with colleagues from both parties to advance clean energy, including through the responsible use of energy tax credits to bring clean-energy technologies to the point where they can compete on their own.
“But this bill has nothing in common with the bipartisan work I and many others have done to responsibly advance clean energy.
“This bill is wasteful and irresponsible and will do essentially nothing to reduce warming globally as other nations continue to skate by.
“It will, however, waste a lot of taxpayer dollars and create a lot of economic pain for hardworking Americans.
“One think-tank analyzed a plan similar to the one Democrats are pushing and found that it would result in staggering job losses, higher energy bills, and a tremendous reduction in economic growth.
“Mr. President, one sensible move to advance clean energy – and necessary investment in conventional energy – would be to address the arduous permitting process, which can hold up both renewable and conventional energy projects for years.
“That’s something we should be focused on – to promote investment in the conventional energy we still need and in the renewable energy technologies of the future.
“Instead, we’re being asked to support a bill that will squander billions and billions of taxpayer dollars on Green New Deal activism and road equity and monitoring tree canopies.
“And we’re supposed to vote for it based on the vague promise that the Senate will consider – consider, mind you, not pass – permitting legislation.
“Permitting legislation that may or may not meaningfully address the broken and burdensome permitting process or negate spurious lawsuits from far-left environmentalists.
“And even if it did provide meaningful reform, my hopes are not high that the Biden administration would actually act on the legislation.
“Canceling the Keystone XL pipeline – a project that endured a decade of permitting, was already underway, and was to be paired with $1.7 billion in private investment for renewables – does not instill confidence that even approved projects are safe from the president and Democrats’ Green New Deal ideology.
“Mr. President, Democrats’ reckless, $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan spending spree helped plunge our economy into an inflation crisis that has left Americans struggling to make ends meet.
“And if this new partisan tax-and-spending spree passes, Americans can look forward to a lot more economic pain in the future.
“But at least they’ll be able to console themselves with the knowledge that their tax dollars are going to fund tree canopies.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”