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Op-ed: Manchin support of ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ betrays West Virginians

Gas prices remain sky high, inflation is at record levels, and President Joe Biden is more concerned about the definition of “recession” than the reality facing West Virginians. With President Biden’s agenda failing, the president was in search of a much-needed victory. Sen. Joe Manchin dutifully fell right in line with his Democrat party.

In my interactions with my constituents, it is clear West Virginians know we are living in a harsh economic reality and things are not going well. Now, Sen. Manchin is teaming up with Senate Leader Democrat Chuck Schumer to pass a massive $700 billion climate change bill. The completely misleadingly named “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022” is loaded with tax hikes on job creators that will raise prices, lower wages, and reduce job creation.

The proposal significantly raises taxes on the production of coal. This new tax mandates a minimum level of taxes that must be paid on income regardless of any credits or deductions. According to a study from the Tax Foundation, this tax will disproportionally impact the coal industry, threatening to cut into the revenue for an already struggling energy sector.

The coal industry faces the heaviest burden of this minimum tax, facing a net tax hike of 7.2 percent of its pretax income. In this bill, a coal tax that significantly raises taxes on the industry would also be revived — an increase in the tax per ton on underground mines from 50 cents to $1.10 and on surface mines from 25 cents to 55 cents. These dramatic tax increases will threaten the entire coal industry and the thousands of West Virginia jobs and communities it supports.

Sen. Manchin is raising taxes on West Virginia’s coal mining industry and providing subsides to liberals in deep blue states to drive electric vehicles. The proposal allows automakers to offer $7,500 in tax credits for new electric car purchases and $4,000 for used electric vehicles for the first time. It would further provide a tax credit for electric vehicles costing up to $80,000 to families making up to $300,000 per year. Simply put, this proposal prioritizes handouts to rich California elites to buy expensive battery-powered vehicles on the backs of hard-working West Virginians.

Liberals in Congress have welcomed Sen. Manchin’s climate change plan with a full embrace. They are desperate to claim any type of legislative victory in the run-up to November’s election. It’s ridiculous that the people of West Virginia are pawns in Joe Biden and Joe Manchin’s plan of over-taxing and spending money we don’t have. Sen. Manchin’s plan is a massive tax increase with billions of additional dollars for the Internal Revue Service’s enforcement of tax law, giving the IRS unlimited authority to hire 87,000 additional IRS agents to ramp up audits on small businesses and taxpayers. The IRS would perform an additional 1.2 million annual audits under the plan. Democrats claim the increased spending on enforcement would net $124 billion.

Raising taxes on a coal industry that is struggling as we head full-steam into a recession is a dangerous combination. While Democrats claim they are only targeting large, profitable corporations, the cost of these tax increases will be borne by working families in the form of higher prices, fewer jobs, and lower wages.

President Biden and Sen. Manchin crushed our economy once with the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. That bloated legislation has led to the highest levels of inflation in our country since 1981 and drove our economy in a recession. They are once again partnering back together for more reckless spending.

Make no mistake, Sen. Manchin is betraying West Virginia and destroying our economy.

Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., represents the state’s Second Congressional District in Congress.

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