https://www.allsides.com/blog/media-bias-alert-partisan-divide-emerges-democrats-inflation-reduction-act

Each week, AllSides Media Bias Alerts examine media bias in coverage of a major or important story using the AllSides Media Bias Ratings™ and our AllSides Media Bias Chart™.

The Inflation Reduction Act (a scaled-back version of Biden’s defunct Build Back Better legislation) recently passed in the senate after over a year of negotiation. With all Republicans opposed, Democrats were able to pass the bill by a 51-50 vote with senators Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sinema (D-Ariz.) on board. The legislation is the largest climate bill the U.S. has ever passed. It would spend about $430 billion and raise about $730 billion over the next decade.

What is in the Bill?

  • Subsidies and tax credits to incentivize consumers and U.S. based companies toward green technologies like electric cars, windmills, and solar panels.
  • Aid for communities most affected by pollution (Native Hawaiians and tribal reserves)
  • Allows Medicare to negotiate the cost of some drugs
  • Caps out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 for Medicare insured citizens
  • Extends healthcare subsidies implemented during the pandemic
  • Gives seniors access to free vaccines
  • Implements tax hikes — including a 15% minimum tax on corporations with more than $1 billion in profits
  • Invests $80 billion to increase IRS enforcement, which is expected to raise about $200 billion through 2031

 

Related: Would the ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ Boost Savings or Raise Costs for Americans?

 

What the Left Says About the Bill

  • Lower energy costs
  • Investment in underprivileged communities
  • Greener transportation
  • More job opportunities
  • Decreasing pollution
  • Reducing carbon emissions to fight climate change
  • Increase in IRS funding
  • Win for the Biden administration

What the Right Says About the Bill

  • Against the tax increase
  • Higher energy costs
  • Medicare controls will raise drug prices for privately insured Americans 
  • The bill won’t reduce inflation or will make inflation worse
  • The deficit reduction advertised as part of the bill won’t take effect for several years
  • It’s a partisan bill

Perspectives From the Left

Many on the left are happy that this bill got passed after it looked bleak during negotiations. But some still remain dissatisfied with what was cut from the bill in order to get the necessary votes. Slate (Left bias), calls out the $35 price cap on insulin and tax increases on private-equity single-owner corporations as important sections of the bill that were cut. Some of the other aspects of the bill that were cut in negotiations are universal pre-K, childcare and elder care aid, child tax credits, housing funding, earned tax income credit expansion, closing the Medicaid gap, millionaire surtax, ending carried interest, tax rate hikes, community college, and immigration reforms. Even with all that Democrats conceded to get Sinema and Manchin on board with the bill, outlets on the left have celebrated many different parts of the legislation. 

Slate (Left bias) highlights the increase in IRS enforcement funding, stating that between 2010 and 2020 they saw a 40% drop in key enforcement personnel. Stating that the IRS has not had enough funding to do its job, they argue this bill will make the rich pay their fair share of taxes. 

CNN (Left bias) posted an opinion piece with writers Van Jones and Jessie Buendia emphasizing several things that excited them about this bill including greener transportation, lower energy costs, neighborhood investments, and an increase in job opportunities. It focuses on the tax credits given to low-income families in order to help them afford solar panels and electric vehicles which will lead to lower utility costs and gas prices for families. Tax credits for disadvantaged communities combined with tax credits and grants for the manufacturers in those areas to switch to greener technologies will improve the pollution neighborhoods, according to Jones and Buendia. Lastly, they highlight that the new technology will bring in new jobs, saying that if the bill passed the house, “we could see the single greatest investment in climate change and underserved communities than we have in years.” 

 

Related: 0.25% or 0.33%? Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act wouldn’t lower prices by all that much, analysts say

Related: Inflation Reduction Act would lead to $1,800 in savings for average household, analysis finds

 

Overall, the left is praising the climate aspects of the legislation. Paul Krugman, writing for The New York Times Opinion Section (Left bias), is marketing the bill as legislation that will “save civilization” and Vox (Left bias) is calling it “a major step forward.” However, the left is split on how much it will actually impact inflation. No one is claiming that inflation will immediately reduce, but Vox frames the impact of the bill as one that will help combat inflation for years to come. Meanwhile, Bloomberg (Lean Left bias) states that the bill will have virtually no effect on inflation. Bloomberg states that inflation “may rise over the first few years, up to 0.05 percentage points in 2024. It would then create a 0.25 percentage point fall later in the decade. ‘These point estimates, however, are not statistically different than zero,’ they [Penn Wharton] wrote.” Regardless of the immediate impact on inflation or the deficit, the sweeping climate and medicare reforms are enough to deliver a win for the Biden administration in the eyes of the left. 

 

Perspectives From the Right

The right, on the other hand, is more focused on the monetary consequences of the bill. They emphasize the minimal impacts on inflation and the deficit and critique the medicare and tax reforms packaged in the bill. 

 

Related: ‘They’re blatant lies’: White House bristles at IRS funding and tax criticism

 

Tommy Hicks for The Daily Caller (Right bias) calls the bill “Another Bidenflation Scam.” He focuses on the impacts of the new tax policy, stating that middle class families making less than $400,000 would end up paying more in taxes and points out hypocrisy from Joe Manchin. Citing a 2010 quote from Manchin saying, “I don’t think during a time of recession you mess with any of the taxes or increase any taxes,” Hicks writes that America is in a recession yet Manchin agreed to increase taxes. Manchin has disputed the claim he supports raising taxes on families, telling Fox News (Right bias) that the bill only closes pre-existing loopholes rather than increasing any taxes on individuals or corporations. 

The article also mentions a report by the National Association of Manufacturers which argues that the 15% minimum corporate tax would hurt manufacturers and eliminate jobs. Hicks says the bill will increase energy prices and force Americans to buy expensive electric cars rather than affordable gas-powered cars. He also briefly touches on estimates that the bill would not reduce inflation.

 

Related: With So-Called Inflation Reduction Act Looking Likely to Pass, Poll Shows Few People Actually Believe in It

 

Several other outlets on the right honed into the effects (or lack thereof) on the national deficit including the National Review (Right bias) and Reason (Lean Right bias). The piece from the National Review highlights the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis that over 90% of the budget deficit reduction advertised by the bill won’t take effect until 2026. 

Reason stacks the bill up against existing spending for comparison, stating, “That $300 billion reduction created by the bill is the expected total amount over the next decade…the 10-year deficit has increased by about $2.4 trillion since President Joe Biden took office, thanks to items like the American Rescue Plan, the bipartisan infrastructure package, and this year’s budget omnibus bill.” 

While there is speculation about how much this bill may help or hurt inflation in the deficit for years to come, the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board (Lean Right bias) leverages a critique with more immediate consequences. Their article presents the Medicaid price controls in the bill as a price increase for all of the other privately insured Americans. They say that providing Medicaid patients with a steep discount on drugs will force companies to compensate by upcharging everyone else on the drug. 

 

Balanced News

While the Left and Right agree that the impact on inflation won’t be substantial, they frame that impact quite differently; while Vox portrayed the long-term effects positively, outlets like Bloomberg and Reason minimized them. Overall, the Left and the Right presented the bill differently, with the Left focusing on successful climate change policies and the Right focusing more on monetary costs to the American public. 

At AllSides we encourage you to read both sides using our balanced newsfeed, so you can make up your own mind. Is this a historic investment in the global fight against climate change? Or is it a poorly-branded partisan bill that only raises prices for consumers? You decide.

 

Clare Ashcraft is the Bridging & Bias Assistant at AllSides. She has a Center bias.

This piece was reviewed by Joseph Ratliff, Daily News Editor (Lean Left), Aidanne DePoy, Research Assistant (Left), and Ethan Horowitz, News Research Assistant (Lean Right Bias).

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