U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke about the egregious climate policies in Democrats’ radical spending bill. Thune reiterated that Democrats in Washington are out-of-touch with the needs and priorities of rural states like South Dakota, and increasing taxes amid soaring prices on utilities and gas will hurt American families.
On taxing unrealized gains (excerpts):
“Mr. President, it's another day and another really bad idea coming from the Democrats to fund their reckless tax-and-spending spree.
“It seems like, that to fund this massive amount of spending, they're trying desperately to come up with new revenue sources, so much so that as of yesterday still under consideration was a tax on unrealized gains.
“In other words, on income that people haven't received yet.”
“Never before has that been attempted or tried or implemented in American history where you would actually have a tax on income before people actually ever receive the income.”
“It's a good example of the desperate lengths to which Democrats are trying to come up with new ways to fund this reckless taxing-and-spending spree that they seem to be insistent on trying to force through Congress with an evenly divided Senate and evenly divided House of Representatives.
“It's hard to imagine that you could do something that radical, but this entire proposal is that radical, which is why they are having such a hard time getting even people in their own caucuses to agree to it.”
On Democrats’ radical climate agenda (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, two years ago, Democrats introduced their original Green New Deal resolution.
“While the guiding principle of the Green New Deal was climate change and energy, Democrats didn’t limit themselves to these issues.
“They outlined a radical, comprehensive socialist revamping of our society, with the federal government inserting itself into nearly every aspect of American life.
“And while Democrats haven’t advanced one all-inclusive bill to implement their Green New Deal – probably because of the absolutely staggering price tag for a comprehensive piece of legislation – the Green New Deal’s socialist vision has rapidly become an organizing principle of the Democrat Party.
“For proof, look no further than the tax-and-spending spree Democrats are contemplating, with its massive expansion of government and radical climate agenda.
“Mr. President, one major problem with Democrats is that they never seem to fully consider the cost of their legislation – whether it’s the actual dollar amount or other costs their proposals might impose.
“And nowhere is that more true than with Democrats’ tax-and-spending spree.
“Mr. President, I’ve spent a lot of time on the floor talking about things like the way this bill will further drive up inflation and the dangers it poses for economic growth.
“Today I want to address some of the costs of the bill’s Green New Deal-esque energy provisions – starting with the cost to American families.
“Mr. President, we know some energy prices are increasing due to the rising demand from the lows of the pandemic.
“Yesterday’s average price for a gallon of gas was $3.38.
“That’s compared to an average price of $2.16 one year earlier.
“Meanwhile, natural gas prices recently hit a seven-year high, and there are mounting concerns about supply.
“Americans are paying a lot more to drive their cars, heat their homes, and cook their food.
“The high cost of gasoline and of natural gas are two more reasons why Americans are finding that their paychecks don’t stretch as far these days.
“Mr. President, given the situation, you’d think that finding ways to lower energy costs would be among Democrats’ top priorities right now.
“Well, you’d be wrong.
“Democrats’ tax-and-spending spree isn’t going to lower energy prices – it’s going to drive them even higher.
“The new energy policies Democrats are considering would drive up the cost of electricity, natural gas, and gasoline and subsidize Democrats’ preferred technologies with Americans’ tax dollars.
“And the icing on the cake is that Americans are likely to be paying higher electric costs for possibly worse electric service.
“A lot of Americans are familiar with the problems with California’s electric grid – namely, blackouts.
“Well, if Democrats have their way, Americans around the country will be able to enjoy California-style electricity – in other words, expensive and inconsistent electricity delivery – along with higher gas prices.
“Mr. President, this is what I mean when I talk about Democrats not fully considering the costs.
“Nobody questions that clean energy is a good thing.
“I’ve been a strong supporter of clean energy innovation, from wind power to biofuels.
“In 2020, 83 percent of the electricity generated in my state of South Dakota came from renewable sources.
“But clean-energy policies need to be realistic and practical for each region.
“We have to, for example, understand that we’re not yet at the point innovation-wise where we can rely mostly on intermittent, renewable sources to power electric grids.
“We still need reliable, baseload power from sources like clean natural gas and nuclear.
“Additionally, forcing older electric plants to close before the end of their remaining useful life, especially the most modern and efficient ones, will strand those assets.
“Our utilities make long-term investments, and when they can’t recoup those facility investments, they pass the cost on to consumers.
“Overreaching clean-energy policies that place heavy burdens on working families are unacceptable.
“Wealthy Democrat politicians – and the wealthy donor class that supports them – may not have to worry much if they have to spend more on their electric bill or an extra $20 or $25 filling up their gas tank.
“But that’s a big deal to a family on a budget – especially when that family is also dealing with the increased price of food and other basics.
“Thanks to inflation and other pressures on gas prices, Americans are already having to spend a lot more money to fill their gas tanks.
“Add in Democrats’ tax-and-spending spree, and many working families could end up unable to fill their gas tank when they need to due to a diminished oil and gas sector.
“Maybe that’s the goal of some more extreme members of the Democrat Party.
“But it’s an unacceptable one.
“Mr. President, working families are likely to have a tough time thanks to the energy provisions in Democrats’ tax-and-spending spree.
“But wealthy families should do a little better.
“Not only are they more likely to be able to afford increases in the price of electricity and gas, but they will also be able to claim a tax credit from the federal government if they want to purchase an expensive electric vehicle.
“Democrats’ tax-and-spending spree will offer tax credits of up to $12,500 for the purchase of an electric car or truck (with the biggest credit, naturally, going to those who purchase union-made vehicles).
“Only electric vehicles produced at facilities ‘under a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement’ would be eligible for the $4,500 plus-up, which would take the credit up to $12,500.
“And anyone making up to $400,000 will be able to claim this credit.
“Under Democrats’ legislation, you could be making nearly half a million dollars a year and yet still receive a substantial tax break for the purchase of an electric car.
“Meanwhile, more accessible and readily available clean-energy technologies – notably, biofuels – take a back seat in this bill.
“Electric vehicles are Democrats’ chosen winner in the transportation sector – no matter how impractical they may still be for a lot of working Americans.
“Speaking of impractical, if you want an electric bike to go along with your electric car, Democrats will give you a tax credit for that as well.
“Yes, Democrats’ bill contains a tax credit for electric bicycles – a credit that would go to bicycles that can cost up to $8,000.
“It may just be me, but if you can afford an $8,000 electric bicycle, I’m not sure you need a tax credit for it from the federal government.
“Also, while electric bicycles may have their appeal in urban and maybe some suburban communities, they are a completely impractical option for most individuals in states like South Dakota.
“When you live 20 miles away from the nearest grocery store, an electric bicycle is not going to be your vehicle of choice for getting around.
“And I’m pretty sure that South Dakota agriculture producers will back me up when I say that electric bicycles are not going to be much use for getting out to check the fences in the far corners of the ranch.
“However, Mr. President, I’ve got to say that tax credits for electric bicycles are far from the most wasteful use of government money in the bill.
“That honor might have to go to the new tax credit for higher-education institutions for teaching ‘environmental justice’ programs.
“I’m sure Americans will be relieved to know that Democrats are planning to create a new tax credit for higher-education institutions, including Ivy League schools and other well-funded universities, so that they can teach courses on ‘environmental justice’ – whatever that is.
“You would think colleges that charge students tens of thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of dollars in tuition could perhaps afford to fund their own “environmental justice” programs.
“But I guess you’d be wrong.
“Then there’s the $3 billion the bill provides for tree equity.
“I support – and encourage – the planting of trees, and I have introduced a straightforward bill to rapidly expand tree planting across the country without any federal spending.
“But I’m fairly sure the federal government cannot afford to spend $3 billion on tree equity.
“Especially when Democrats need to save money for their Civilian Climate Corps – a new government program to provide government jobs (and subsidized housing) to climate activists.
“And for much more.
“Mr. President, the word is that Democrats will soon be releasing a new version of their tax-and-spending spree.
“I can only hope that it will be less extreme than the current version.
“Because if the bill’s current Green New Deal-esque energy provisions go into effect, Americans are going to be looking at a future of higher energy costs, diminished energy resources, and weakened energy independence.
“Not to mention a lot of wasted taxpayer dollars.
“Once again, it’s abundantly clear that the Green New Deal is a bad deal for American families.”