Aug 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

First look: GOP's opening salvo against Inflation Reduction Act

Republicans are beginning to run ads targeting Democrats' newly passed $740 billion health care, climate and tax bill — starting in one of the handful of Democratic-held House districts that voted for former President Trump in 2020, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Democrats see the Inflation Reduction Act as a lifeline in their fight to keep the majority and are pushing incumbents to communicate its benefits back home. But Republicans are betting they can turn the bill to their advantage.

Driving the news: The Congressional Leadership Fund, House Republicans' main super PAC, is running a $750,000 ad buy targeting Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) for voting for the legislation.

  • The ad features several attack lines that tested the best, Axios is told. That includes going after the bill's tax provisions — and, in particular, the hiring of 87,000 new IRS agents.
  • It also tries to undercut Golden's reputation as an independent-minded Democrat known for breaking with his party, stating that Golden "cast one of the deciding votes for Biden's new massive spending bill."

The backdrop: All House Democrats, including centrists like Golden and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), voted for the bill last week.

  • Golden was the lone Democrat to vote against the $1.9 trillion version of the bill last November, but left the door open to voting for it with changes.

The state of play: Golden faces one of the toughest re-election fights in the country in a district that voted for Trump by six points in 2020.

  • He faces a credible general election foe in Republican former Rep. Bruce Poliquin, whom he narrowly ousted in 2018.

The big picture: A national GOP strategist told Axios that attacks against the Inflation Reduction Act "have been the top testing hits against vulnerable Democrats" since the legislation was passed last week.

  • "Expect to see millions in advertising attacking Democrats," the strategist said. "We'll see a lot more of these ads in the coming month. They are effective and every Democrat supported this bill."

The other side: In a series of messaging letters, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid out to House Democrats how to sell the bill's health and climate provisions while members are back in their districts for August recess.

  • "It is crucial that, during this District Work Period, we communicate to our constituents how America’s families will benefit from this new law," she wrote.
  • President Biden also plans to embark on a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his signature legislative achievement.
  • Golden's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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