Compromise Essential Ingredient To Passage Of Inflation Reduction Act

Long-time readers of this page know I like to see government work. I applaud elected officials who understand the art of governing. I also have a deep interest in history and politics, which underscores my admiration of Henry Clay and his resolve to seek compromises to secure the unity of the country in the first half of the 19th century.  I am again very mindful of those larger issues at play this week, following the votes of United States Senators in passing the Inflation Reduction Act.  That action proved that modern-day pols fully grasp what Clay did, that compromise is the main ingredient in governing.

The House of Representatives will cast votes later this week on the bill, which upon passage will go down in the history books as the most significant climate legislation to date.  That is no small act of legislating, given the dysfunction on Capitol Hill.  In real terms, passage means that nearly $370 billion in spending will be used to cut emissions and promote clean energy.   The end result is meaningful and worthy of our nation’s attention.  President Biden will sign it and another promise to the nation from the 2020 campaign will be enacted into law.

How the sausage is made into such laws is not a mystery.  Well, not so much, anyway, if one has followed the many months of congressional reporting as ideas and wish lists were tossed about, sorted out, scratch-offed, discarded, re-wrote, praised, slammed, praised again, and then finally—finally–efforts joined into a measure that met with a consensus vote.

As the countdown to the House vote nears, environmentalists rightly cheer that bill’s passage and enactment.  Those who have hoped and lobbied for the policy goals in the soon-to-be law can be proud to aim for a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. by 40% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, as well as creating 1.5 million green jobs.  Doctors are pleased with the bill, too, as data supports the measure will prevent thousands of premature deaths from air pollution.

Many will still scorn West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin who stemmed a much more energetic and ambitious proposal by the Biden administration, a plan that, yes, would have pushed more robustly towards transitioning away from fossil fuels. A goal more and more people are correctly embracing. We must not lose sight, however, of what has been achieved by venting anger at one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate. All hands must be on deck now for messaging the many positive aspects of the bill to the public.

We got to this point having the adults in Washington make compromises, the only way large and diverse measures of this type can be crafted and successfully passed. Too often, we need to remind Americans that compromise is far different from capitulation. The fringes of both parties often deride compromise and instead turn up the rhetorical heat for their own self-interests at the mention of uniting on a bill. History, however, shows that compromise is not only often needed, but exactly what the nation requires.

I just know Henry Clay is smiling in agreement today.

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