'Orwellian?' 'Bag of hammers?' How Mike Lee, Mitt Romney see inflation reduction bill

Morgan Smith, of Logan, purchases vegetables at Ream’s in Sandy on July 7. Utah's two GOP senators denounced the Inflation Reduction Act that passed the Senate on Sunday.

Morgan Smith, of Logan, purchases vegetables at Ream’s in Sandy on July 7. Utah's two GOP senators denounced the Inflation Reduction Act that passed the Senate on Sunday. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Saying Democrats gave Americans drowning in debt a "bag of hammers" and calling the Inflation Reduction Act an "Orwellian"-named piece of legislation, Utah's two GOP senators denounced the sweeping health care and climate bill.

Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney joined all 50 Senate Republicans voting against the measure that passed with 50 Democratic votes and Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie in a rare Sunday session.

"You shouldn't judge a book by its cover, and you certainly shouldn't judge this bill by its title. Despite its name, this bill will not reduce inflation," Lee said. "American families cannot afford the Biden administration's latest tax and spend scheme. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, then spending more money and increasing taxes to reduce inflation meets that definition."

Lee called the bill a "classic example of the government breaking your legs and then calling itself a hero for giving you a crutch."

The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the Inflation Reduction Act, "an Orwellian name if I've ever heard one" will raise taxes by $313 billion over the next 10 years, he said.

"This at a time when Americans are wondering how they're going to fill their gas tanks, how they're going to pay their rent and how they're going to feed the families," he said.

Lee said the bill spends hundreds of billions of dollars and raises taxes at a time when inflation has grown to 9.1% nationally and nearly 15% in Utah.

Romney called the legislation "yet another reckless taxing-and-spending spree being touted as 'anti-inflation' legislation." He said the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan the Democrats passed last year "predictably" contributed to inflation.

"Americans are falling further and further behind as they face skyrocketing prices on everything from food to energy and medicines. Today, Democrats returned to their same tired playbook to raise taxes, spend more money and expand the size of government," he said in a statement.

"Every single Republican senator fought to stop their one-sided, partisan bill. Democrats called it an act to combat inflation. It does the opposite."

Romney called the bill a "liberal wish list" that reduces oil and gas production, raises taxes that companies will pass on to consumers, and it doubles the number of IRS auditors in order to audit more Americans.

"The American people, who are drowning in debt and inflation, needed a life preserver and Democrats gave them a bag of hammers," he said.

The bill is designed to lower health care costs and invest in domestic energy production to curb the effects of climate change.

Sponsors say the act will:

  • Make a down payment on deficit reduction to fight inflation.
  • Invest in domestic energy production and manufacturing.
  • Reduce carbon emissions by around 40% by 2030.
  • Allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prices for prescription drugs.
  • Expand the Affordable Care Act Program through 2025.

The Democrat-controlled House is expected to take up the legislation Friday.

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Dennis Romboy
Dennis Romboy is an editor and reporter for the Deseret News. He has covered a variety of beats over the years, including state and local government, social issues and courts. A Utah native, Romboy earned a degree in journalism from the University of Utah. He enjoys cycling, snowboarding and running.


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