North country officials, candidates share views on Inflation Reduction Act

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Aug. 6—A new legislative package unveiled in a surprise announcement from Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., could make major changes to the U.S. economy.

In the north country, officials were largely split on the legislation, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, by party affiliation, and officials of either party had almost complete assertions on what the legislation will actually achieve.

Representatives for Sen. Schumer, who negotiated the deal with Sen. Manchin, did not return a request for comment Thursday.

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in an emailed statement that the IRA will help address inflation, cut prescription drug prices, make healthcare more affordable and reduce the national debt.

"The deal includes a nearly $370 billion investment in energy and climate spending — that's a huge step forward in helping us reach our green energy goals and address the climate crisis," she said. "I have full faith in Democrats to pass this legislation and I look forward to delivering for the American people."

In an interview Wednesday, Congresswoman Claudia L. Tenney, R-Utica, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the 24th Congressional District that includes western Jefferson County, said she is entirely opposed to the IRA. She said the legislation will likely increase inflation, taxes and costs for people up and down the economic ladder.

"It looks like there's an awful lot of pork and sweet deals for West Virginia aimed specifically at getting Sen. Manchin behind this deal," she said.

Rep. Tenney said she was hopeful Sen. Kyrsten L. Sinema, D-Ariz., would not support the bill, preventing it from achieving 50 supporters in the Senate. Sen. Sinema on Thursday negotiated a change to the bill to remove the elimination of a carried interest tax provision from the bill. She gave her support Friday after some tax changes were made.

In the 21st Congressional District, Congresswoman Elise M. Stefanik's team has taken a hardline against the bill. The congresswoman's senior advisor Alex DeGrasse said the legislation will make inflation worse and increase taxes, in a time when already-high inflation is hurting the average American.

"Unlike her far-left Democrat opponents, Congresswoman Stefanik strongly opposes any tax increases and will oppose Democrats' radical spending bill," he said.

The two Democrats who are running against Rep. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, had staunchly different views, almost entirely the opposite of Mr. DeGrasse's position.

"The Inflation Reduction Act will provide families and small businesses with needed breaks, reduce the deficit to fight inflation and reign in corporate greed," said Matthew F. Putorti, a Whitehall, Washington County, native and lawyer seeking the Democratic nomination for Congress. "Allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices will lower out-of-pocket costs for thousands of NY-21 families and seniors. Closing tax loopholes that allow the ultra-wealthy and big corporations to pay a lower percentage of taxes than nurses or bus drivers will level the playing field for Northern New Yorkers."

Mr. Putorti lauded the investments the legislation calls for in clean energy and greenhouse gas cleanup efforts, saying they'll buoy the U.S. economy, promote domestic manufacturing, boost tourism, create jobs and reduce costs for the average American.

"In Congress, I will work to ensure those jobs come to upstate New York," he said.

Matt Castelli, the former CIA officer and counterterrorism official who is also seeking the Democratic nomination to Congress in NY-21, and has created the Moderate Party as a third line in the election, lauded the bill for similar reasons.

"The Inflation Reduction Act represents a significant opportunity for NY-21 and promises to reduce costs for hardworking everyday American families and seniors," he said. "The bill contains historic opportunities to reduce healthcare and prescription costs for seniors and working families, and makes transformational investments to combat climate change and grow our economy, all while reducing the federal deficit and fighting inflation. NY-21 families deserve a representative who fights for them, and if I were in Congress today, I would support the passage of this deal."