Jim Carr By JIM CARR

PEF Retirees LogoThe federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was just signed into law.  This legislation is good for our retirees and for our union!  It is very appropriate that it was enacted just before Labor Day!   

I would like to echo PEF President Wayne Spence’s message in the July/August Communicator.  Happy belated Labor Day.  I hope you were able to walk in a parade or attend a labor-sponsored event.    

Remember that unions build the middle class, and corporate greed is working to minimize unions’ influence, and that elections have consequences both positive and negative.  The IRA is a positive consequence of the 2020 presidential election.  Here are some facts about the IRA from our friends at The Alliance for Retired Americans: 

    • The IRA that recently passed by Congress and was signed into law by President Joseph Biden will address working family and retiree issues by lowering prescription drug prices, health insurance and home energy (costs).   
    • It will tackle the climate crisis at a level never before attempted. 
    • It is fully paid for, and will not cost one cent more in taxes for anyone making less than $400,000 a year. 
    • It will reduce the deficit by at least $300 billion over 10 years according to the Congressional Budget Office.   

The IRA will lower prescription drug prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices.  It will penalize drug corporations if they raise prices faster than the inflation rate for people getting Medicare.  It will cap Medicare part D drug costs at $2,000 and insulin costs for Medicare recipients at $35 per month.  

Originally the bill would have capped insulin costs for everyone, but since this was a reconciliation bill and under the rules of reconciliation costs to private consumers were not a budget item, Republicans in the Senate removed the cap on insulin for everyone and the bill passed while only controlling insulin costs for Medicare recipients. It expands Medicare benefits to include free vaccines. The law will help 13 million Americans maintain health coverage under the Affordable Care Act through 2025, saving them an average of $800 per year.  

The legislation also makes historic investments in clean energy that can cut household energy costs by up to $1,000 per year, address the climate change issue and create up to 900,000 jobs a year for the next decade. 

The IRA is fully paid for by requiring that large profitable corporations pay at least a minimum 15% tax rate.  In 2020, 55 of America’s largest and wealthiest corporations paid $0 in income taxes.  Now, corporations will also pay a 1% tax on stock buybacks.  Additionally, the IRS will get a boost in funding so it can go after tax cheats who already owe taxes.  This funding boost also will allow the IRS to expand customer service centers that help taxpayers wanting to get their tax refund on time or their phone calls answered promptly. 

Under this bill there are no new federal income taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 per year.  This bill is good for seniors, unions, workers, the deficits, the environment and the economy!  I applaud the work that New York’s Senator Chuck Schumer did as senate majority leader to make this happen in spite of very intense opposition from the GOP.  Not even one Republican voted for this plan. 

Remember that in November — because your vote matters!