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Joe Manchin triggers Fox News
Also: The case for Biden declaring a climate emergency even if Dems succeed in passing climate legislation.
It’s refreshing to see Joe Manchin antagonize right-wingers for a change.
After more than a year of mostly torturing members of his own party, Manchin hit Fox News where it hurts live on the air. And you could tell it stung because host Harris Faulkner responded with a meltdown.
That remarkable scene took place during an interview Manchin did Tuesday on Fox to promote the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a sweeping climate, energy, and health care package that’s the result of a surprising agreement he struck last week with Chuck Schumer and has the potential to revive big pieces of President Biden’s domestic agenda ahead of the midterms.
Among other positives, the bill — if passed — will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions (more on that later) and lower health care costs. Unsurprisingly, however, Fox News has been relentlessly negative about it, for one simple reason — it represents a major win for Democrats, and Fox is right-wing propaganda.
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Fox’s case against the bill rests on a misleading talking point about it increasing taxes for middle income Americans. In reality, the bill has no impact on individual tax rates at all, and is funded largely by a proposed 15 percent minimum corporate tax on companies with at least $1 billion in income. But a report from the Republican minority on the Joint Committee on Taxation falsely claims that “average tax rates will increase for nearly every income category in 2023 under the bill,” and Fox News is just running with that instead of doing any fact-checking of its own.
Manchin made this point at the tail end of an interview in which Faulkner blatantly mischaracterized his bill, telling her that her claims about the bill raising taxes on the middle class amounted to a “pure, outright lie.”
Manchin did a great job debunking Faulker’s misinformation in real time. Watch:
With her talking points in ruins, Faulkner tried to pivot to Biden’s low poll numbers. But Manchin wouldn’t bite and instead cut right to the chase, saying, “Harris, are you scared we’re going to something good that’ll help our country?”
Harris didn’t like that at all. In fact, she got as angry as you’ll see a Fox host get during an interview with a US senator.
“Of course not. My father served. Are you kidding? Service is in the Bible,” she said. “Don’t make this personal.”
Despite what Fox wants viewers to believe, the bottom line is that IRA will not increase middle class taxes. Jonathan Chait has a good explainer on this point in New York Magazine that you should read, but here’s the key passage:
Republicans inaccurately claimed the [aforementioned tax committee report] shows the plan would increase taxes on the middle class. The plan in fact raises taxes only on corporations with an income over $1 billion. It does not raise taxes on individual taxpayers at all.
But you can’t shame the shameless. As if to demonstrate they’re totally full of it, a few hours after Manchin’s interview, Fox News host Martha MacCallum pushed the same debunked talking points about IRA during an interview with White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein. As Manchin did, Bernstein quickly shot them down, saying the fact the bill doesn’t increase middle class taxes is “not a debatable point.”
But even after false claims about the Manchin-Schumer bill were debunked at least twice on Tuesday on Fox News programming, Hannity lied during his Tuesday night show that “Harris Faulkner was right.” It was like a bizarro fact check where a lie becomes true through sheer force of repetition.
There is a spirited debate among progressive media watchdogs about whether Democrats should go on Fox — one I’ve covered extensively in this newsletter. While I’m sympathetic to arguments that Dems should freeze Fox out, I think the attempts Manchin and Bernstein made to speak truth to viewers who too often don’t hear it are worthwhile. After all, if a few of Manchin’s Fox News-watching constituents in deep red West Virginia saw his interview and ended up changing their minds about IRA, it’s a good thing — even if the hosts will forever be hopelessly allergic to facts that cut against their narratives.
Biden should still declare a climate emergency
By Thor Benson
Until recently, it seemed all but sure that Democrats would not be able to get a climate bill passed before the midterms, but Manchin flipped the script last week when he introduced his Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The bill includes $369 billion dollars in climate funding that would go toward things like subsidizing the purchase of electric vehicles, increasing the production of renewable energy technologies, reducing methane emissions, and more.
Prior to the introduction of the IRA, President Biden had been considering declaring a national climate emergency, which would expand his ability to take executive action against climate change through laws like the National Emergencies Act (NEA) and the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act). Now that the IRA has been introduced, it seems less likely Biden will declare a national climate emergency, but there are reasons he should still do it regardless of what happens with this legislation.
Whether the IRA will become law may depend on the whims of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). It’s unclear whether she’ll vote for the bill, and it seems likely she’ll make the process as excruciating as possible if she does decide to play ball.
Even if the IRA does pass, though, it doesn’t appear it will get us to our climate goals.
The Biden administration has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels (when they peaked) by the year 2030. According to the Rhodium Group, the IRA would reduce emissions by 31 to 44 percent by that time. This bill would certainly be an important step forward, but more will need to be done.
The IRA would reduce emissions by offering tax incentives to American companies to increase the production of wind, solar and battery technologies, limiting the amount of methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) a US company is allowed to emit, providing grants and rebates to homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient, and by offering a $7,500 tax credit toward the purchase of a new electric vehicle and a $4,000 tax credit toward the purchase of a used one.
The US hopes to hit a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 because that would hopefully put us on track to prevent global temperatures from increasing beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Keeping temperatures from exceeding that level is needed to avoid the worst possible effects of climate change.
“In the best case scenario — if we believe the rosy projections that we would cut emissions by 40 percent — that still leaves a significant gap to hit our goals of hitting 50 percent by 2030,” Karuna Jaggar, climate campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity, tells Public Notice. “Even if we believe those numbers, there’s still more work that has to be done. This is where President Biden needs to step up.”
The Center for Biological Diversity put out a report in February outlining what President Biden should do with his emergency powers to fight climate change. To start, Biden could use the power granted to him under the NEA to halt the export of crude oil. A crude oil export ban was put into effect in 1975 and was only repealed in 2015.
“Reinstating the crude oil export ban has the ability to cut greenhouse gas emissions by the same amount as closing 42 coal plants per year,” Jaggar says. “This is about not continuing to flood the market with these fossil fuel resources and shift our resources to renewables.”
Biden could also utilize the NEA to prevent US financial institutions from investing in foreign fossil fuel projects. The report claims these institutions invested roughly $470 billion into these sorts of projects in 2020 alone.
Through the Stafford Act, Biden could also redirect existing federal agency funding toward climate projects. This is what former President Trump did in 2019 when he declared a national emergency to get money for his border wall. Biden could use funding from the Pentagon or FEMA to start building renewable energy projects instead of a fence of dubious usefulness.
The Defense Production Act is also often referred to as an emergency power, and Biden has utilized it to combat the Covid pandemic. He’s also used it to increase the production of solar panels and batteries needed for electric cars and the grid. Jaggar says he could use the Defense Production Act further to continue in that direction.
Biden shouldn’t necessarily declare a national climate emergency today, because doing so may interfere with talks surrounding the IRA. However, if it does pass or if it becomes clear it will not pass, he should then take a look at the executive actions he can take to fight climate change under these emergency powers and do what he can with those powers to get us closer to reaching our climate goals.
“No matter what happens with the reconciliation bill, we need a climate president who will take bold executive action,” Jaggar says. “It’s one thing to say, as he has, that we’re living in a climate emergency. It’s another thing to unleash the power of law by actually declaring a climate emergency.”
— Jon Stewart’s week-long shaming of Republicans who voted against a bill to expand health care coverage for veterans who have been exposed to toxic burn pits paid off, as the bill was finally passed Tuesday by the Senate. Thirty-seven Republican senators joined Democrats in voting for the bill. Not among them was Rand Paul, who made remarkably callous remarks about veterans health care just before the vote.
— In the first major reproductive rights-related vote since the Supreme Court ended the federal right to an abortion, an anti-abortion ballot measure in Kansas went down Tuesday to a resounding 20 point defeat. That result doesn’t bode well for anti-choice Republicans this November, so naturally Fox News got busy downplaying it.
The Kansas result is just the latest indication that restricting reproductive rights isn’t a winning strategy for Republicans not only in blue and purple states, but even in red ones like Kansas.
That’s it for today
I’ll be back with more Friday.