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Schumer touts Inflation Reduction Act as a way for Democrats to win voters

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

This week marks the one-year anniversary of one of President Biden's big legislative achievements, the Inflation Reduction Act. The top Senate Democrat says the act frames a key contrast with Republicans heading into the 2024 election.

CHUCK SCHUMER: They're busy investigating. We're busy investing in America. Ask yourself, which one does the public want?

FADEL: NPR congressional correspondent Deirdre Walsh sat down with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York to talk about the Inflation Reduction Act. And she's here now to tell us about it. Good morning, Deirdre.

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Good morning, Leila.

FADEL: So one of the criticisms of the Inflation Reduction Act is that people don't know what it's doing or if it's doing anything. What was Schumer's response to that?

WALSH: He admitted it's going to take some time. And he said, just like the economy, there's a lag between when some key indicators come out and when Americans actually feel things are getting better.

SCHUMER: We believe if we persist, if we're constantly showing the implementation of the IRA, that by the time next summer rolls around, people will know it and know it well. And by the way, I'd say the same thing about the economy. Usually, when people draw a snapshot about the economy, you know, it takes a while. So they're looking six months back. And six months back, inflation was worse. Six months back, the economy was less robust. But six months from now, they're going to see a much better economy. And they're going to see costs going down.

FADEL: But right now, the news cycle is consumed with former President Trump's fourth indictment, Hunter Biden's legal issues. Isn't there a danger for Democrats that this act won't break through?

WALSH: I mean, Schumer really waved off the idea that Democrats' message is going to be overshadowed at all by all the legal Trump news and Hunter Biden news. He argued the cumulative effect of the IRA is something voters are going to feel personally. He kind of just dismissed the Hunter Biden probes, what he said is just Washington usual background noise.

SCHUMER: People care most about getting their costs down, making sure there are good-paying jobs for themselves and their kids. That's what the IRA has done. And I believe, by the time the election gets closer, that will be the dominant thing in people's mind, not any of this stuff.

FADEL: And yet West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who helped write the bill, has been critical of it in recent weeks. He said parts need to be repealed. How did Schumer respond to that?

WALSH: He downplayed Manchin's criticisms. Remember, Manchin is up for reelection in 2024. And Democrats have a really narrow majority. He hasn't announced yet whether he's going to run for his Senate seat. Schumer stressed he has a good relationship with Manchin and that West Virginia is going to benefit from this law.

SCHUMER: There are going to be parts that Senator Manchin never liked and will say he opposes. That's fair enough. But there are lots of things he said he likes in that bill and in the agreement that we had. And so, no, I don't think it hurts us at all.

FADEL: Democrats have a narrow Senate majority and will have to defend in several red states. Does Schumer think the IRA is going to help Democrats in those states over the line?

WALSH: He really is betting it is. In places like Ohio, West Virginia, Montana, he's saying that the law is going to be a central theme for Democrats. They'll be able to point to specific battery plants and other projects stemming from the law as examples of how people are getting new jobs. Schumer noted that Republicans who didn't vote for the law are showing up at ribbon cuttings for new projects.

He also said abortion is going to be a big issue in next year's election, just like it was in the 2022 midterms. But Schumer said the economic message and the message about Democrats defending reproductive rights were not going to be mutually exclusive. In the end, the majority leader predicted a strong Democratic tide in 2024 that's going to help Democrats keep that majority. But, you know, 15 months is an eternity in politics, so a lot can happen between now and next November.

FADEL: So true. NPR's Deirdre Walsh. Thanks, Deirdre.

WALSH: Thanks, Leila. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.