Republicans introduce bill that would hand US EV lead to China

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Republicans have introduced a bill to eliminate the US EV tax credit in the Inflation Reduction Act, with the effect of slowing US progress on EV manufacturing, thus handing the lead in EV manufacturing to China.

How the Inflation Reduction Act helps American health, economy & manufacturing

The Inflation Reduction Act included hundreds of billions of dollars of climate spending, much of which was allocated to EV tax credits, both for personal and commercial vehicles. These credits were an extension and expansion of the $7,500 EV tax credit first introduced in 2008.

But those credits were limited to 200,000 cars per manufacturer, a cap which some manufacturers had hit and more were going to hit. So the Inflation Reduction Act improved access to those credits, removing the cap and setting up a way for the credits to be available upfront at the point of sale, meaning that lower-income buyers can qualify for the credits and get them immediately instead of waiting to file their taxes.

However, it limited the credits in some important ways as well – namely, by ensuring domestic production of electric vehicles in order to qualify, and setting limits on high-income buyers so the credits go to people who need them rather than those who don’t.

It also added a $4,000 used EV tax credit, which is limited to even lower income groups.

There are ways around some of these limitations and some restrictions have been loosened to allow industry to catch up. But these restrictions have nevertheless fueled a renaissance in American auto manufacturing, with many manufacturers announcing new factory investments in the US.

In fact, since President Biden started his EV push, oer $210 billion has been invested in new or expanded factory projects, which will create EV 250,000 jobs, with more to come.

These commitments stand to make the US into an EV manufacturing powerhouse – we’re already doing pretty well in EV production, largely led by Tesla. But Chinese EV production and demand are rising rapidly and automakers are waffling in the face of it – so government must be clear that we are committed to building this industry long-term.

The IRA also represents the largest climate commitment made by any country in the world, ever, by dollar value. The hundreds of billions of dollars allocated, largely to EV-related tax credits but also to many other climate programs, are a commitment still unmatched by any other country. As an added bonus, the bill actually brings in more revenue than it costs due to tax reforms targeting wealthy corporate and individual tax cheats.

Republicans are lying about their bill’s effects

So, no wonder that republicans, a party that seems to actively oppose anything that would benefit American manufacturing or the environment that Americans live in, would introduce an act to eliminate much of the benefit from the Inflation Reduction Act.

The new act, fittingly called the “ELITE” Vehicles Act (surely named for republicans’ elite fossil fuel donors which it aims to benefit at the expense of everyone else), aims to eliminate the clean vehicle credit for new, used, and commercial electric vehicles.

The act was introduced by John Barrasso, a republican senator from Wyoming who has received $526,425 from the oil & gas industry in this senate election cycle. Not only that, but Wyoming’s main industries are all tied to oil, putting the lie to the assertion that this act is intended to do anything more than benefit an industry which is responsible for millions of deaths per year.

The act’s advocates say that IRA credits – which are limited to lower-income buyers, particularly the used EV credit – are a giveaway to the wealthy (who don’t qualify for them), and that the credits allow Chinese EVs into the US (which they in fact explicitly disallow through the domestic manufacturing provisions mentioned above).

Notably, the act doesn’t do anything to get rid of the $760 billion in subsidies received by polluting industry each year in the US. This could be done through making polluters pay for the pollution they cause. If subsidy elimination were the act’s main concern, then that’s a rather big target that the act ignores – because, of course, the fossil fuel industry wouldn’t like it if their free license to harm the health of Americans were revoked.

The actual effect of rolling back these credits would be to make EVs less affordable for Americans, to ensure that those same Americans have more misery forced on them by pollution from the industry that bribes Barrasso, and to discourage American EV manufacturing and consumer uptake which would have the effect of handing over the lead in global EV manufacturing to China.

How Chinese auto benefits and the US is harmed by repealing the EV credit

Chinese EV manufacturing and consumer demand are both currently skyrocketing, and China is rapidly increasing exports of EVs to overseas markets – particularly Europe at the moment.

But Chinese companies would love to sell EVs in the US, and would likely love to see the government tack $7,500 onto the price of US-built EVs, which would only make Chinese-built EVs much more competitive to the pocketbooks of the American consumer. Barrasso’s bill would do exactly that – make Chinese EVs more competitive, and the US auto industry less so.

And since EVs provide local air quality benefits, which stands to reason and which we’ve already seen in areas with high penetration, reducing EV adoption would also make Americans sicker and fill up American hospitals more.

While Barrasso claims that the bill would do the opposite of the things that it would actually do, it’s hard to believe that anyone would be ignorant enough to believe it would actually have the effects he claims. We don’t think that even he thinks that – we think he’s just playing politics, and saying whatever will make his fossil overlords happy.

In short, John Barrasso, author of the act, is lying to protect the industry that bribes him.

So far, the act has only been introduced in the Senate, and has not made it through committee or to a vote. It is sponsored by 19 republican senators, many of whom come from states with significant oil industry presence. If somehow passed, it would almost certainly be vetoed by President Biden, so it is not likely to make it into law under the current government (though that could change in November, which is something to keep in mind when filling out your ballots).

But even if it doesn’t make it into law, it still functions as a way for republicans to show their intent – to cost you money, to harm your health, and to hand the keys of the future of the auto industry over to the country which the US considers its main geopolitical rival.

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