U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, left, and U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine speak by Zoom to Maine reporters Wednesday from Capitol Hill in Washington. Screenshot from video

Hoping to counter Republican attacks over his support for the Inflation Reduction Act, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden got its controversial author to tout both the measure and the Maine lawmaker who helped him pass it.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said the $433 billion bill he created and pushed, which President Joe Biden signed into law last week, will put the country on the path to long-term energy independence, advance efforts to cope with the climate crisis and reduce the cost of health care.

Manchin told Maine reporters on a Zoom call arranged by Golden, a two-term congressman from Lewiston, that everything in the new law had bipartisan support, except its new requirement that major corporations pay at least a 15% tax on their earnings. Some pay nothing now, he said.

“It’s not a spending bill,” Manchin said. “It’s an investment bill.”

Golden said he invited Manchin to speak about the measure because “back home, there’s literally millions of dollars being spent” to spread misinformation about this bill by “super PACs and dark money groups.”

“The people of Maine ought to know what the truth it,” Golden said.


A few GOP-aligned groups have assailed Golden in a barrage of advertising for his support of Manchin’s legislation, making dubious claims it “could make inflation worse, increase taxes on nearly everyone and add up to 87K new IRS agents who could harass the middle class,” as one commercial from the Congressional Leadership Fund asserted.

They are angling to help a former congressman, Republican Bruce Poliquin of Orrington, reclaim Maine’s 2nd District seat from Golden, who defeated him in 2018. Also in the running in the Nov. 8 election: independent Tiffany Bond of Portland.

Manchin, who blocked much of Biden’s legislative agenda, said he favors politicians who will not cater to party leaders.

He called U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, “my dearest, dearest, dearest friend,” and hailed Golden for following in her footsteps.

Manchin told Mainers, “If you don’t send people like Jared Golden back to Washington, we’re really going to have a problem, because we need the balance” that moderates provide.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Manchin said.


He said it amazes him that “Maine has such a heritage and such a history” of sending people to Washington from both parties “that are liked-minded and committed to Maine.”

“They don’t follow the party lines,” Manchin said. “Susan is the first to break from the Republican Party. Jared’s the first to break from the Democratic Party, when it’s not good for Maine. And that is so refreshing.”

Manchin said with support from lawmakers like Golden, the Inflation Reduction Act managed to pass both houses of Congress, and put in place “just outstanding energy policy” that will put the country on a path to long-term independence from foreign oil. Collins, though, voted against it, calling the measure “another reckless spending bill that will further fan the flames, adding to the pain that Mainers are experiencing right now.”

Manchin said his push for the act was motivated in part by watching the Biden administration asking countries, such as Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Iran, to produce more oil.

“That enraged me,” Manchin said.

The bill he produced in response opens more land to drilling, clears up a confused permitting system and takes many steps to encourage both conservation and new energy sources, including help for the biomass industry, from which Maine can benefit, he said.


The bill also caps the price of insulin, limits individual Medicare prescription costs to $2,000 annually and allows the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices for the first time. The end result, Manchin and Golden said, is health care costs should go down.

Within the new law, Manchin said, there are “opportunities galore” for investors to pursue clean energy projects that will help the climate and the country’s supply of energy.

Poliquin’s campaign spokesman took issue with Manchin’s support for the bill and Golden.

“Manchin’s comments about breaking with the party are laughable, when both he and Golden together gave Joe Biden the deciding votes to increase inflation-driving spending on the eve of a recession and add more than 85,000 IRS workers to go after Americans,” Roy Mathews, a Poliquin aide, said.

Manchin said the idea of bolstering the Internal Revenue Service came initially from “my Republican senators” working on the infrastructure bill pushed through during Biden’s first year in office. He said GOP lawmakers told him the IRS needed to modernize. Everyone agreed, he said, but in the end, the provision could not stay in the infrastructure bill because of Senate rules.

Manchin said Republicans are now claiming “the craziest thing I’ve ever heard” in their assertions that a bunch of armed IRS agents are going to crack down on ordinary Americans.


“It’s just a lie,” Golden said. “I hate to say that.”

He said the upgraded IRS will not conduct additional audits for people making less than $400,000 annually, which may mean almost nobody in his sprawling, rural district needs to worry.

Manchin said the IRS will, instead, beef up its poor customer service and improve its ability “to go toe-to-toe with the richest Americans” to ensure everyone pays his or her fair share.

As it is, Golden said, the IRS is “getting out-lawyered” and losing out on revenue the country needs.

Manchin and Golden said they have developed a friendship on Capitol Hill.

Manchin said when the House of Representatives is taking up partisan bills, Golden is “the first go-to person I call to get some sanity back.”

“We’re both rural Democrats,” Golden said, and fiercely independent-minded, determined to look across the aisle to benefit their districts.

Manchin, who endorsed Collins in her difficult 2020 Senate race, said Maine voters ought to choose Golden in this year’s congressional contest.

Do not vote for the party, Manchin said. “Vote for the person.”

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