Top Georgia Republicans unite against federal climate bill

DAWSON – The meetup at a cotton gin in southwest Georgia was designed to showcase Tyler Harper’s deep knowledge of farming issues as he runs for the state’s top agriculture job. But it quickly became a chance for Republicans to vent about a new federal climate, healthcare and tax bill.

Former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, on hand to boost Harper, said the measure would put “food security at stake” by imposing new regulations on farmers. Chris West, the GOP congressional nominee, lamented what he saw as federal overreach.

And Harper expressed concern that a measure that Democrats promise will combat inflation will only lead to higher prices, forcing farmers and Georgia families to struggle with the economic fallout.

As Democrats rally around the surprise deal that could salvage President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, Georgia Republicans have linked the plan to their efforts to turn the November midterm into a referendum on Democratic control of Washington.

Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker trekked to Dalton on Wednesday to declare it would “cripple American manufacturing.” And Gov. Brian Kemp joined other Republican state leaders in opposing the measure.

“Our citizens cannot afford Joe Biden’s broken promises on taxes and Democrats’ inflationary spending that will only exacerbate the economic crisis they created,” read a joint statement from Kemp and other GOP governors.

The doom-and-gloom outlook contrasts sharply with Democratic optimism. Stacey Abrams praised Biden for pursuing legislation that would institute “for the first time, a true climate action plan in the U.S.” Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock both back the plan.

The package is a cornerstone of Biden’s economic platform. It includes an array of energy and climate proposals, health care subsidies and proposals to lower prescription drug prices worth hundreds of billions of dollars. It’s set to be financed by a new minimum tax on some giant, profitable corporations.

All 50 members of the Republican caucus in the Senate are expected to vote against the bill, and top GOP figures quickly attacked the measure as a tax increase that would increase government spending and undermine an already shaky economy.

Several estimates from outside groups suggest the measure wouldn’t amount to a tax hike for most people. It would raise most of the new tax revenue by imposing the minimum tax on large firms that use credits and loopholes to reduce their rates.

The GOP opposition means that Democrats will likely have to navigate the bill through a budget reconciliation process with no votes to spare. They also must unite their own caucus: U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona still hasn’t endorsed the plan.

The proposal includes tax credits to increase production of renewable energy, electric vehicles and new sources of fuels to move away from carbon-based sources. It also offers farmers new incentives to shift from nitrogen fertilizer, a contributor to climate change.

The blanket opposition also means Republicans can’t claim credit for provisions in the bill designed to earn more broad-based support.

At a campaign stop in Milton, Walker refused to say specifically whether he approves of Warnock-backed initiatives in the measure that would cap the price of insulin and curb the price of prescription drugs, saying of the Democrat that he does “support some of the good things he’s doing but that’s just a Band-Aid.”

“The problem we got: Why are we continuing to spend money we don’t have?” Walker said. “You know what having a credit card means when you have no money. Quit spending money. All we’re doing is spending money. They can’t continue tearing things up, not fixing one thing.”