A Senate win for Oregon workers

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Graham Trainor
Graham Trainor

By GRAHAM TRAINOR, Oregon AFL-CIO president

On Sunday, Aug. 7, something transformational happened in Washington D.C. After more than a year of fits and starts, the Inflation Reduction Act passed the U.S. Senate. It passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Aug. 12 and was signed by President Biden on Aug. 16.

Introduced in April of last year, it’s another major piece of President Biden’s economic agenda on the heels of last year’s American Rescue Plan and the once-in-a-generation bipartisan infrastructure bill that was signed in November.

But all too often, the impacts of game-changing legislation like this don’t break through the noise or the polarization we see in mainstream media. 

The Oregon labor movement is focused on the issues on the minds of working people. The American labor movement strongly supports this bill and is ready to double down on ensuring that working people feel the impacts of the law as quickly as possible. 

Here’s what it will mean for working people, families, and seniors in Oregon and across the country. 

First up, prescription drugs. This bill will allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices for seniors, for the first time in history. It will also cap increases in prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients to the rate of inflation. And it will cap out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs covered by Medicare Part D, benefitting 1.4 million enrollees annually. 

The bill will prevent premium spikes for people who rely on the ACA marketplace for their healthcare for the next three years, providing them some economic stability . 

Now, let’s talk about the tax code and who pays their fair share. The bill will invest $80 billion in the IRS to strengthen enforcement, which is expected to increase collections by $203 billion. It will not increase taxes on those with taxable incomes below $400,000. Additionally, it will impose a 15% minimum corporate tax on corporations with profits exceeding $1 billion which is expected to raise $222 billion. 

And future generations will be able to see the impacts of this bill with drastically reduced carbon emissions. In fact, it will reduce climate pollution by 40%, provide tens of billions of dollars in energy investment and production tax credits, include tens of billions in manufacturing tax credits, support electric vehicle purchases by the postal service, and create jobs in clean energy. 

Here in Oregon, not only do we have President Biden’s leadership to credit for the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, but our very own U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley played key roles in the effort as well. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Wyden in particular helped lead the work on clean energy and prescription drug pricing over the last decade to prepare for this historic moment.

The labor movement knows that the fight for climate and economic justice is not over. But this bold action by Congress and President Biden will make a difference in the lives of working people, and it’s exactly the kind of leadership we need more of from our nation’s capital. 

The Oregon AFL-CIO is a federation of labor unions.

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