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Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman forecast different impacts from inflation deal

 U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on the U.S. Senate floor.
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U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on the U.S. Senate floor.

Ohio’s U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said Congress is capping an “amazing” two weeks with a move to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, but U.S. Senator Rob Portman has countered that sentiment by saying the latest congressional plan would hurt America’s economy.

Brown said the inflation deal will be a big accomplishment in addition to the CHIPS Act, which put $52 billion into the computer chip industry, and the PACT Act, which expands health care benefits to military veterans exposed to burn pits.

The Inflation Reduction Act would raise $739 billion in revenue to invest in clean energy initiatives and Affordable Care Act subsidies.

“It’s going to grow the renewable energy economy. It creates jobs, it creates a cheaper, independent energy,” said Brown. “We can do all kinds of innovative things on wind in Ohio and on solar and it’s time that government be on the side of those that want to do that.”

Brown said it is especially important for the federal government to take action on steps that will reduce climate change to counteract measures passed by state governments, such as Ohio, that have rolled back mandates for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

But Portman and other Republicans have said the Inflation Reduction Act is a misnomer and will have the opposite effect.

Portman said, “It doesn't actually decrease the inflationary pressure we all feel at the gas pump, at the grocery store, clothes shopping. It actually makes it worse.”

On the Senate floor, Portman compared the measure to previous COVID-related stimulus plans that “overstimulated” the economy and created a demand that mismatched supply.

Portman noted his opposition to the main revenue generator in the bill, a 15% minimum tax on corporations making more than $1 billion through what’s known as a book tax.

“The burden of the $326 billion in the tax increases is not just going to companies. It never does. It gets passed along. In this case, it falls, of course, to workers and to consumers,” said Portman.

As for creating incentives for renewable energy, Ohio once had renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. Republican legislators rolled back and eliminated those requirements through HB6 and argued that the standards increased utility costs that were passed on to consumers. Advocates for those standards said the consumers eventually saw a decrease in the bottom line of their electric bills.

Brown defended the inflation act and said the Republican party is too distracted by trying to protect the interests of large corporations.

“But it's the right thing to do and it's going to bring inflation down. That's why it's called the Inflation Reduction Act, and it's going to enhance people's standard of living,” said Brown.

The U.S. Senate is expected to hold a vote on the Inflation Reduction Act this weekend and the U.S. House is expected to hold a vote next week.
Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.