COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster criticized a law Democrats say is designed to address record inflation.
The Senate approved the Democrats’ big election-year economic package, known as the “Inflation Reduction Act.”
At a news conference in Columbia Tuesday afternoon, Graham called the bill “a nightmare for South Carolina” and for the American economy.
Graham said the bill imposes a new gas tax of 16.4 cents per barrel on imported oil at a time the nation is becoming more dependent on imported oil. He said it would also impose the same tax per barrel on domestic crude refined in America, which means costs would increase at American refineries making them less competitive.
“This starts with pennies, it becomes dimes and eventually dollars,” Graham said. “So I’m adamantly opposed to any new gas taxes on the American consumer and the South Carolina driving public.”
The senator also criticized a provision that would increase the size of the Internal Revenue Service by 87,000 employees.
“Enough new IRS agents to fill up Williams Brice stadium and Death Valley,” he said. “So when you go to the football game this fall just imagine everybody to your left and right being IRS agent.”
He claimed the bill would increase the size of the Internal Revenue Service to greater than that of the British Army.
“Governor, I’m going to fight this tooth and nail,” Graham said. “I’d like to see a lot more border patrol agents and a lot less IRS agents.”
Graham cited an analysis by the Penn Wharton Business School which said it had “low confidence” that the legislation would have any impact on inflation.
McMaster said the law poses “a serious threat” to the nation and in South Carolina, which he said has “survived an onslaught of bad ideas” out of Washington.
“There’s never a good time to raise taxes,” McMaster said. “What we need to do is spend the money on the right things. This is going in the wrong direction.”
The Associated Press reported the bill includes the largest-ever federal effort on climate change — close to $400 billion — caps out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors on Medicare to $2,000 a year and extends expiring subsidies that help 13 million people afford health insurance. The package is paid for by raising corporate taxes and reaping savings from the long-sought goal of allowing the government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare. The architects of the bill say it will raise some $300 billion in extra revenue for deficit reduction.
The package keeps to Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes on those earning less than $400,000 a year.
“I am begging the people of this country in November, fire this crowd before it’s too late,” Graham said. “They deserve to be fired. They don’t know what they’re doing on the economy.”
Graham said he hopes word gets out that the bill “doesn’t reduce inflation, it adds prices and the energy sector is going to de-incentivize investment at a time we need more of it. It’s going to create an army of IRS agents that are going to make it more difficult for small businesses and people to manage their lives in this country. Who do you think this army is going to come after? I tell you they’re gonna come after: They’re gonna come after working Americans, and this is ridiculous. This shows you their priorities. In the Democratic world, we’re short of IRS agents. In my world, we’re short of cops, short of Border Patrol agents. We’re short of people in the military.”
The bill next heads to the U.S. House.
Copyright 2022 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.