In a goal Democrats have pursued for decades, the legislation would, for the first time, reduce costs by giving Medicare the power to negotiate the cost of a limited prescription drug basket. In the process of expanding Affordable Care Act subsidies, it could save countless people on health insurance. In spending nearly $370 billion to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change, it largely fulfills Biden’s ambitious plan to create a clean energy economy. The bill could also help restore America’s global leadership in saving the planet by spurring other countries to follow suit.
The victory was all the more remarkable because it was won against a bitter Republican opposition in a 50-50 Senate, where Democrats have no room for error. Democrats have spent months negotiating with themselves as moderate senators like Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kirsten Sinema of Arizona backed down, and progressives had no choice but to Accept to save the bill. Coal state Sen. Manchin reinstated the measure late last month after reversing opposition and agreeing to push for clean energy in exchange for concessions on fossil fuels.
All major new laws are judged in a variety of ways—based on their impact on American life, how they change the political environment, and how they appear in the historical books years later. So even though the Democratic achievement may not pay off at the ballot box anytime soon, it may not disappear without warning in the long run.
How voters and history will judge a major Democratic victory
If, as expected, the bill passes partisan lines in the House of Representatives this week, its real-world impact will depend on whether it matches Democrats’ claims that it will cut carbon emissions amid the deadly effects of climate change — appearing in Extreme floods, droughts and wildfires – are becoming more and more evident.
The party and the White House also say the bill could have a huge impact on humanity by helping older Americans who struggle to pay for certain vital medicines and creating real quality of life improvements for millions.
In expanding Obamacare subsidies, the measure would lock in and prolong one of the greatest achievements of Democratic rule in the 21st century.
The passage of a bill that then reverberates in the elections, like most legislation, takes months, if not years, to fully implement, and so may lack immediate, transformative political consequences.
It’s unclear whether the push will be a big part of Biden’s agenda, saving the president’s rapidly dwindling political fortunes. His approval rating has fallen below 40 percent, threatening to drag down Democrats and crush their hold in Washington in November. Democrats have faced a savage political storm for much of the year as a nation exhausted by the pandemic faces soaring gas and grocery prices.
That legislative achievement could at least give them a chance to re-engage with voters, some of whom rate the president poorly, according to recent polls. Democrats can argue that they have made the most comprehensive investment in climate change in history, an important consideration for generations — especially young voters who will live on a warming planet.
“This is absolutely a historic investment in climate change,” White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy told CNN’s Pamela Brown on Sunday, touting the measure’s impact on promoting clean energy, increasing jobs and saving consumers money .
Meanwhile, to get older voters to the polls, Democrats could emphasize lower drug prices because Medicare would have some negotiating power.
Even Biden’s fortunes appear to have turned in recent weeks after struggling for much of last year, as one crisis after another, at home and abroad, hit his White House and thwarted ambitious plans. . Friday’s bumper jobs report helped ease fears of an impending recession. The president presided over the killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan, somehow repairing his reputation as a shrewd commander-in-chief, which was marred by the chaotic end of the U.S. war in the country.
Still, history has shown that the first president’s party — especially those with less than 50 percent approval — tends to get hammered in midterm elections.
Republicans sense an opportunity. They’re touting the Senate measure as yet another massive spending bill that will further exacerbate already soaring inflation. Economists are divided on Democrats’ claims that the bill will lower the cost of living. But if daily costs continue to rise, the political truth may not matter — a damaging impression could prevail that Biden is once again fueling inflation with a huge spending bill.
Senate Minority Mitch McConnell sought to immediately reiterate his party’s message in the midterms, accusing Democrats of introducing “huge job-killing tax hikes” and a “war on America’s fossil fuels” at a time when energy prices are high.
“The (Democratic) response to the runaway inflation they enacted is a bill that experts say won’t meaningfully lower inflation at all,” the Kentucky Republican said. “The American people are well aware of their priorities. Environmental regulation is a 3 % problems. Americans want to fix inflation, crime and border issues.”
A strong legacy, even if it doesn’t translate in November
Biden’s swift bounce in Sunday’s Senate vote suggests his presidency is gaining momentum.
“Senate Democrats sided with American families on special interests, voted to lower prescription drug costs, health insurance and everyday energy costs and reduce deficits, while letting the wealthiest corporations finally pay their fair share,” the president said, hinting that he has been How Democrats, who are struggling to effectively publicize his victory as president, are selling the bill to voters.
His health care and climate change bills passed the Senate, leaving Biden with a domestic legacy that rivals any recent Democratic president. That adds to Biden’s previous successes in Congress, including a bipartisan infrastructure deal that eschewed his two most recent predecessors, the first major federal gun safety legislation in decades, and the White House He said a pandemic relief package in the early days of his presidency lifted millions of children out of poverty.
Those accomplishments likely won’t change Biden’s political direction, especially if voters have already decided on his presidency, with polls showing a majority of Americans believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. The president’s recent success also seems unlikely to quell the debate over whether he should run for re-election in 2024, when he will be in his 80s. Biden’s age problem hasn’t gone away.
But even if the president’s winning streak doesn’t get a substantial boost anytime soon and sees his poll numbers rise significantly, the past few weeks have been critical in changing the narrative about his presidency. Most governments end up being remembered for achievements that create a narrative shorthand that encapsulates the president’s place in history.
If the global climate push succeeds in mitigating the most catastrophic impact on the planet in the coming decades, Biden — who has done more to confront the threat than anyone in the presidency — will be remembered for taking action . So would be the case if energy legislation dictates a new era of electric vehicles and the United States begins to abandon the internal combustion engine — the cornerstone of American freedom of movement and prosperity for decades.
Biden may also be credited by future historians for his progress in expanding access to health care under the Obama administration. The Reducing Inflation Act is indeed far from fulfilling early hopes of transforming home health care, increasing education funding, and offering dental and vision programs under Medicare. Here are a few reasons why Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders was so critical of a bill he later voted for, despite his reservations.
“This settlement bill does not go far enough to address the problems facing struggling working families. But it is a step forward, and I am pleased to support it,” Sanders said in a statement.
But America’s political success on issues ranging from civil rights to social care has almost always come in an incremental fashion, with one presidency building upon another. This has been especially true in recent years, given the vicious and widening political divide in modern Americans.
So Democrats, who are likely to lose their majority in November, can at least console themselves by knowing that they are not squandering their power leases as they have done for months.