What’d I miss?
In which I make up for deciding to take a vacation during two of the most eventful weeks of 2022.
The last two weeks of August are supposed to be the sleepiest news weeks on the calendar. It’s hot. People take vacations. That was part of the calculus when we decided to take them off. But I guess our accelerating news cycle has finally come for late August, too.
Never fear, despite my absence, I have … many thoughts. Here, I’m going to catch you up on some perspectives on the biggest news stories of the last two weeks.
The Inflation Reduction Act is law.
I had written on the eve of the law’s passage that the now-passed Inflation Reduction Act demonstrates that we can still do medium-sized things. Don’t get me wrong, I support nearly every single part of the law. It’s what’s not included that I worry about: child tax credits, family leave, childcare, an end to the carried interest loophole, etc.
Even still, the law’s passage includes some hidden gems. For example, while empowering Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices on behalf of seniors got all the attention, a lesser appreciated aspect of the prescription drug reform will have more profound effects.
The Inflation Reduction Act limits one of the pharmaceutical industry's most egregious practices: arbitrarily raising the prices of key prescription drugs every year. The new law does away with this, requiring manufacturers to pay Medicare rebates if they raise rates beyond the rate of inflation. Over time, this is where the biggest savings will likely arise — and why Big Pharma is so spitting mad over the whole thing.
The law is also an important political win for Biden, a validation on his central thesis — that bipartisan action is still possible in Congress. Considering the new law in the context of the American Rescue Plan, the bipartisan infrastructure package, and the CHIPS and Science Act, it creates a string of achievements that bolster Democrats into the all-important fall midterms.
Student loan forgiveness.
For all the Inflation Reduction Act will do, its consequences will be diffuse and take place so far in the future that few Americans will recognize the law that caused them, let alone reward the president who shepherded it. Not so for student loan forgiveness.
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