Patterico's Pontifications


Happy Birthday, “Inflation Reduction” Act!

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:32 pm

[guest post by JVW]

At The Spectator, Oliver Weisman reminds us that last year’s ridiculously-named Democrat spending orgy turned one year old a few days ago:

The excuse for Biden’s latest bit of economic salesmanship is the one-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act. This means we will be treated to tired catchphrases that refuse to catch on, such as “grow the economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down.” It also means we will watch Democrats get frustrated that Biden isn’t getting the economic credit they think he deserves. That frustration makes little allowance for the important point (covered before in this newsletter) that Biden’s economic track record isn’t nearly as rosy as they seem to think it. Instead, Biden’s problem is a messaging one.

Last week the president identified what he sees as the source of the confusion: the name of the Inflation Reduction Act. “I wish I hadn’t called it that,” he said at a Democratic fundraiser last week, adding that “it has less to do with reducing inflation than it has to do with providing alternatives that generate economic growth.”

In other words: the president now acknowledges the obvious fact that the name of his flagship legislation was a cynical and short-sighted bit of spin that strained credulity by branding a massive spending bill as an act of inflation-busting fiscal responsibility.

[. . .]

In complaining about the Inflation Reduction Act’s confusing name, Biden and his allies demonstrate a remarkable degree of political amnesia. Their massive climate-focused spending bill had to be renamed for a reason: that a more straightforwardly branded piece of legislation was a nonstarter in the Senate and unpopular with voters.

Mr. Wiseman then reminds us that just over three months ago, the Brookings Institute released an analysis of the IRA which suggests that its effects will be far smaller than hoped for, but its costs will at the same time be significantly greater. Gee, any wonder why Official Washington Media ignored this story? Here’s a transcript of a podcast in which the paper’s author Neil Mehrotra explained the findings. According to him, while there will be an overall reduction in carbon dioxide emission of about 6% to 10% over the next decade, the higher cost of materials combined with unfriendly interest rates means that it will come with a brutal price tag:

So, one of the important findings in our paper is that the fiscal expenditures associated with the Inflation Reduction Act are likely to be somewhat larger than were originally projected by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation. These are the two agencies that try and forecast how much the legislation will cost over a 10-year window. And our finding is that the 10-year cost would be closer to around $900 billion instead of the $400 billion that was projected by the CBO and JCT. And there’s many reasons that we’re getting a higher fiscal cost. The reason that the legislation will cost more is that there’s more uptake, there’s more increased investment in clean energy capital, which is part of the goal of the legislation.

In terms of its effect on the trajectory of emissions, we expect that at the end of 2030 U.S. emissions will be something like 35% below their 2005 level, and that is getting close to what our commitment is under the Paris Agreement, which we were trying to get to 50% by 2030. So, the climate provisions and the Inflation Reduction Act move us materially closer to attaining that emissions target.

To sum it up: an additional $900 billion, on top of the trillions that have been pledged over the past decades, in order to miss our climate goals under the Paris Accords by about 30%, at the same time that China has determined they no longer will be held responsible for their pledges made on behalf of emission reductions.

I know regular readers will be shocked to the core to learn that multinational agreements solemnly signed by dignitaries in elaborate ceremonies and celebrated as “major breakthroughs” in all of the proper salons, faculty lounges, and boardrooms in various world capitals sometimes turn out to be nothing more than grandstanding and virtue signaling by the wealthy elite, but here’s where we find ourselves. But never fear: John Kerry and his ilk will soon be back promoting yet another “major breakthrough” that promises to save us from environmental doom. And Joe Biden along with his party will fall in line with elite conventional wisdom just as they always do.


20 Responses to “Happy Birthday, “Inflation Reduction” Act!”

  1. I am always amazed at the various ways politicians try to get water to run uphill.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  2. Kipling had it right:

    And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  3. Meanwhile, the commercial real estate market continues to implode due to the various COVID-era changes. Apparently, the big-money boys are preparing to attend some fire sales.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  4. ridiculously-named Democrat spending orgy

    It was reported that it was Senator Joe Manchin who insisted on that name (among other things) in exchange for his vote.

    Biden or others wanted to call it a climate bill.

    Sammy FInkelman (1d215a)

  5. “it has less to do with reducing inflation than it has to do with providing alternatives that generate economic growth.”

    Means alternative sources of energy which supposedly enhances economic growth.

    Sammy FInkelman (1d215a)

  6. Mr Toyoda insists that you get more bang for the buck with hybrids and PHEVs, while not needing anywhere as much lithium, cobalt and rare-earths as with full-on electrics.

    Considering that his company was the “Tesla” of hybrids, he probably knows what he’s talking about. His heresy is getting a lot of pushback.

    Toyota’s position

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  7. Note: I recently bought a hybrid from Hyundai. No subsidy, sorry.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  8. , while there will be an overall reduction in carbon dioxide emission of about 6% to 10% over the next decade,

    reduction from what would otherwise be emitted, which is itself insignificant year to year. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are rising slowly

    The major climate effects come not from CO2 but H2O levels. This creates variability in temperature and precipitation.

    We don’t know enough to make any informed decisions.

    Consider, too, the alarmist treatment of climate change.

    Campaigners and news organizations play up fear, in the form of floods, storms and droughts, while neglecting to mention that reductions in poverty and increases in resiliency mean that climate-related disasters kill ever fewer people: Over the past century, such deaths have dropped 97%.

    Heatwaves capture the headlines.

    Globally, however, cold kills nine times more people.

    The higher temperatures arguably characterizing this century have resulted in 166,000 fewer temperature-related deaths overall.

    Of course droughts and floods are not directly caused by temperature.

    Sammy FInkelman (1d215a)

  9. The major climate effects come not from CO2 but H2O levels

    This is a pile of hogwash. H2O stays in the atmosphere for extremely short periods, falling out as rain, snow, dew and fog. Perhaps you’ve witnessed these.

    CO2 has no similar way of coming out of the atmosphere, and one emitted it stays until some plant sucks it in. Occasionally it combines with nitrogen or water vapor, but not very quickly, and some of that stuff is no fun at all anyway.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  10. Too many people who talk about H20 rise, as in ocean rise, are speaking about ocean rise due to Greenland glacier melt and think the entire world will experience catastrophic ocean rise due to Greenland melting. There is a thing called the Atlantic Basin and that water may take a long time to get into the Mediterranean, then longer into the Indian Ocean basin, much less the Pacific. People say oh, Alaska will melt too. Alaska has glaciers and high mountains covered in snow, but high mountain snow is less likely to melt, and Alaska is not ice covered, but tundra covered… it melts nearly every year as it sits now. The Holy Grail for AGW climate change cultists is the entirety of Antarctica, but the part they refer to most often is really the Antarctic Peninsula which runs far to the north.

    I’ll be dead long before this is a problem and I’m confident the highly adaptive species we are, we will survive and do just fine

    steveg (6273da)

  11. @9

    This is a pile of hogwash.
    Kevin M (ed969f) — 8/15/2023 @ 4:45 pm

    It’s not hogwash. There isn’t one thing that causes global warming.

    The earth has history of warmings and coolings.

    The debate is, at what level, does human activities impact global climate?

    One volcanic eruption can send more C02 into the atmosphere than the entire human existance.

    There’s so much we still don’t know about our Earth.

    whembly (f645cf)

  12. H2O building up in the atmosphere is a cretin’s idea. REALLY REALLY STUPID. It is just about the most steady-state thing in the effing universe.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  13. as in ocean rise

    Steve, they are talking about water vapor building up in the atmosphere for statistically meaningful periods. It does not happen. Get too much and you have a weather event and it’s not in the atmosphere any more.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  14. Kevin M (ed969f) — 8/15/2023 @ 10:09 pm

    Steve, they are talking about water vapor building up in the atmosphere for statistically meaningful periods. It does not happen. Get too much and you have a weather event and it’s not in the atmosphere any more.

    The average amount of water vapor in the atmosphere can go up (more frequent and bigger rainstorms, and actually greater variability in everything)

    Water vapor is Earth’s most abundant greenhouse gas. It’s responsible for about half of Earth’s greenhouse effect — the process that occurs when gases in Earth’s atmosphere trap the Sun’s heat. Greenhouse gases keep our planet livable. Without them, Earth’s surface temperature would be about 59 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius) colder….Data from satellites, weather balloons, and ground measurements confirm the amount of atmospheric water vapor is increasing as the climate warms. (The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report states total atmospheric water vapor is increasing 1 to 2% per decade.) For every degree Celsius that Earth’s atmospheric temperature rises, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere can increase by about 7%, according to the laws of thermodynamics.

    They want to say that increased water vapor is an effect and not a cause.

    Some people mistakenly believe water vapor is the main driver of Earth’s current warming. But increased water vapor doesn’t cause global warming. Instead, it’s a consequence of it. Increased water vapor in the atmosphere amplifies the warming caused by other greenhouse gases…The greenhouse gases in the dry air in Earth’s atmosphere include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and chlorofluorocarbons.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  15. Projections of reduced carbon dioxide emissions from more renewable energy are wrong because the sources of energy are (at least in the short term) additive and they are not substitutes when considered overall.

    Production continues as before, the price drops slightly, and more carbon containing fuels are burned.

    (They don’t count any emissions of water vapor from hydrogen containing fuels, because they say water vapor is a function of other greenhouse gases.)

    Someone wrote somewhere that only a carbon tax reduces CO2 emissions (all other things being equal of course!) and if you have a carbon tax, no promotion of renewable sources reduces CO2 emission any further.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  16. Jefferies and Schumer just gave more border relief $$$ to New York than Texas or Arizona.

    Funny how graft and bribes work.

    NJRob (eb56c3)

  17. Considering the underwater volcano that exploded increased water vapor by 5% instantaneously, I think that says more about natural effects that will be blamed on human climate change.

    NJRob (eb56c3)


    More than eight months after the underwater volcano near Tonga erupted on Jan. 14, scientists are still analyzing the impacts of the violent blast, and they’re discovering that it could warm the planet.

    Recently, researchers calculated that the eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apa spewed a staggering 50 million tons (45 million metric tons) of water vapor into Earth’s atmosphere, in addition to enormous quantities of ash and volcanic gases. This massive vapor injection increased the amount of moisture in the global stratosphere by about 5%, and could trigger a cycle of stratospheric cooling and surface heating — and these effects may persist for months to come, according to a new study.

    Tonga’s eruption, which began on Jan. 13 and peaked two days later, was the most powerful witnessed on Earth in decades. The blast extended for 162 miles (260 kilometers) and sent pillars of ash, steam and gas soaring more than 12 miles (20 km) into the air, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    NJRob (eb56c3)

  19. Barely on topic:

    Driverless cars have a ways to go still

    Driverless vehicles promise a future with less congestion and pollution, fewer accidents resulting from human error and better mobility for people with disabilities, supporters say.

    But every now and then, one of the cars runs into trouble in a way that casts a bit of doubt on that bold vision.

    So it was on Tuesday in San Francisco, where a driverless car somehow drove into a city paving project and got stuck in wet concrete.

    Paul Harvey, 74, a retired contractor who lives in the city’s Western Addition neighborhood, took a photo of the car with roof-mounted sensors, tipped slightly forward, its front wheels mired in the freshly poured concrete.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  20. Yeah, climate change is being driven by volcanoes. Once a decade the put a lot of vapor into the air and that explains everything! As in not anything.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

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