Semiconductor unites Bill Sanders, the right wing – in opposition
WASHINGTON (AP) — A bill to boost semiconductor production in the United States has managed to do the almost unthinkable — uniting democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders and the economically conservative right.
The bill making its way through the Senate is a top priority for the Biden administration. This would add about $79 billion in losses over 10 years, mostly as a result of new grants and tax breaks that would subsidize computer chip makers’ costs when building or expanding chip plants in the United States.
Supporters say countries around the world are spending billions of dollars to lure chipmakers. Should the US do the same or risk losing a secure supply of the semiconductors that power the nation’s automobiles, computers, instruments and some of the military’s most advanced weapon systems.
Sanders, I-Vt., and a wide range of conservative lawmakers, think tanks and media outlets have a different view. For them, it is “corporate welfare”. This is just the latest example of how spending taxpayer dollars to help the private sector can break down normal partisan lines, creating allies left and right that agree on something else. They are positioning themselves as the little man’s saviors against powerful interest groups standing in the public trough.
Sanders said he doesn’t hear from people about the need to help the semiconductor industry. Voters talk to him about climate change, gun safety, preserving a woman’s right to an abortion, and promoting Social Security benefits, just to name a few.
“There aren’t many people that I can remember — I’ve been in this whole country — that say: ‘Bernie, you go back there and you get the job, and you give a highly profitable corporation, that to its CEO. Outrageous compensation packages pay off, billions and billions of dollars in corporate welfare,'” Sanders said.
Sanders voted against the original semiconductor and research bill that passed in the Senate last year. He was the only senator who joined forces with Democrats to oppose the measure, joining 31 Republicans.
While Sanders would like to see spending directed elsewhere, many GOP senators just want to stop spending, period. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said spending would fuel inflation that is hurting the poor and middle class.
“The poorer you are, the more you suffer. Even middle class people get a good hold. Why do we want to take money from them and give it to the rich, it’s from my ability to fathom beyond,” said Lee.
Conservative mainstays such as The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, the Heritage Foundation and the Tea Party coalition group FreedomWorks have also come out against the bill. “Giving taxpayer money to wealthy corporations is not competing with China,” said Walter Lohmann, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center.
Protests from the far left and far right mean that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal., will need help from Republicans to get the bill to the finish line. Overcoming the filibuster would require the support of at least 11 Republican senators. Final voting on the bill is expected in the coming week.
Mitt Romney, R-Utah, is among potential Republican supporters. Asked about Sanders’ argument against the bill, Romney said that while other countries subsidize the manufacture of high-tech chips, the US should join the club.
“If you don’t play like them, you’re not going to be manufacturing high-tech chips, and they’re essential to our national defense as well as our economy,” Romney said.
The most common reason lawmakers give for subsidizing the semiconductor industry is the risk of becoming dependent on foreign suppliers for national security, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic’s supply chain problems. According to the Congressional Research Service, Asia accounts for about four-fifths of global manufacturing capacity, which is split by South Korea at 28%, Taiwan at 22%, Japan at 16% and China at 12%.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on CBS Sunday, “I wish you didn’t have to, to be very honest, but France, Germany, Singapore, Japan, all these other countries are providing incentives for CHIP companies to build there.” ” “Face the nation.”
“We cannot afford to be in this vulnerable position. We need to be able to defend ourselves,” she said.
If some progressives align with Sanders and if most Republicans stand in opposition based on fiscal concerns, the window for the bill to pass through the House is narrow. The White House says the bill needs to be passed by the end of the month as companies are now deciding where to build.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told members of the United Auto Workers in Michigan on Friday that she thinks the bill is “very confident” the bill will pass the House.
“Before coming here, coming from the airport, I was told that we have some significant Republican support from the House side,” Pelosi said. “We value the bipartisanship of this bill.”
Two major congressional groups, the Problem Solver Caucus and the New Democrat Coalition, have supported the measure in recent days,
The Problem Solver Caucus is made up of members from both sides. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, the group’s Republican co-chair, said Intel Corp. wants to build its chip capacity in the United States, but most of that capacity will go to Europe if Congress doesn’t pass the bill.
“If the semiconductor-related bill is brought to the floor, it will pass,” Fitzpatrick said.
Rape. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., said he believes the law checks a lot of boxes for his constituents, including inflation on the front-burner issue of the day.
“It is about reducing inflation. If you look at inflation, automobiles accounted for one-third of inflation last quarter, and that’s because there’s a shortage of chips,” Kilmer said. “So it’s about one, making sure we’re in the United States.” I’m about making things, and two, about reducing costs.”
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