Electric vehicles (EVs) have long been a boogeyman in right-wing media, deployed to undermine climate action and stoke the culture war flames. Now that the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is poised to pass, many in right-wing media are using the act’s EV tax credits as a proxy to attack the broader, $369 billion investment in climate change by painting climate action as the domain of the rich elites.
The Inflation Reduction Act creates a new federal tax credit for used EVs, new zero-emission vans, SUVs, and trucks. The full electric vehicle tax credit will be available to individuals reporting adjusted gross incomes of $150,000 or less, or $300,000 for joint filers. For the new tax credit for used EVs, the cap for joint filers is $150,000 and the cap for single filers is $75,000. Unfortunately, the tax credit is far from perfect. According to The Conversation:
Rapid and widespread adoption of electric vehicles will be essential for the United States to meet its climate goals. And the new bill, which includes a host of other health and tax-related provisions, aims to encourage people to trade their gasoline-fueled cars for electrics by offering a tax credit of up to $7,500 for new electric vehicles and up to $4,000 for used electric vehicles through 2032.
But there’s a catch, and it could end up making it difficult for most EVs to qualify for the new incentive.
The bill, which needs House approval, requires that new electric vehicles meet stringent sourcing requirements for critical materials, the components of the battery, and final assembly to qualify for the tax credits. While some automakers, like Tesla and GM, have well-developed domestic supply chains, no electric vehicle manufacturer currently meets all the bill’s requirements.
Although the tax credit is imperfect, the goal of climate and energy experts is to encourage widespread adoption of EV technology in order to reduce emissions from gas-powered vehicles; the feasibility of EVs' ability to help mitigate climate change is incumbent upon millions of consumers switching to an electric vehicle. Complex consumer economics and supply-chain issues have created challenges for electric vehicle affordability. But technological innovation provides a possible path forward for EV scalability. As the New York Times wrote:
New battery designs offer hope for cheaper electric cars but will take years to appear in lower-priced models. Predictably, next-generation batteries that charge faster and go farther are likely to appear first in luxury cars, like those from Porsche and Mercedes.
Companies working on these advanced technologies argue that they will ultimately reduce costs for everyone by packing more energy into smaller packages. A smaller battery saves weight and cuts the cost of cooling systems, brakes and other components because they can be designed for a lighter car.
The Department of Energy is trying to encourage start-ups to focus more on batteries for the masses. In May the department offered $45 million in grants to firms or researchers working on batteries that, among other things, would last longer, to create a bigger supply of used vehicles.
Right-wing media isn’t concerned as much about making EVs affordable as thwarting any and all climate action because of their unwavering support for the fossil fuel industry. Just recently, they cherry-picked data from a poll to undermine the Biden administration’s climate agenda and claim Americans do not care about climate change. Right-wing media figures also used the crisis in Sri Lanka and other countries to argue against climate action in the United States, while constantly pushing cynical narratives about the Green New Deal, energy independence, and gas prices.
It’s not surprising, then, that multiple right-wing media figures on Fox News, Fox Business, and social media have been disingenuously attacking the EV tax credit as a handout to the rich, while others have outright lied about the income needed to qualify for the credit.
Examples of right-wing media figures attacking the EV tax credit to undermine climate action
Fox News host Steve Doocy: “To your point about the tax credit, if you buy a $75,000 electric car? Who pays for that? The taxpayers. All the taxpayers. Every taxpayer pays for that subsidy that the rich people or affluent people who can afford $75,000 are paying for a car. Does that seem fair?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/8/22]
Fox Business host Dagen McDowell: “$369 billion spent on climate and energy programs. So more incentives for rich folks to buy electric vehicles.” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria, 8/8/22]
Fox News contributor Brian Brenberg: “The president of the United States is leading a charge to send tax credits to wealthy people to buy electric vehicles. The gap between what is needed and what people — what they’re getting from the Congress has never been wider, Steve, on the economy. That's why people have lost hope. That's why they feel so pessimistic. Because D.C. doesn't get it.” [Fox & Friends, 8/8/22]
Conservative personality Josh Holmes:
Conservative personality Matt Schlapp:
Conservative media figure Erick Erickson:
Conservative writer Bonchie:
Fox Business host Charles Payne:
Fox News Radio host Jimmy Failla:
Fox Business host Larry Kudlow: “If the Bidens would open the spigots for LNG exports to Asia, India, China, whomever — that would do more to reduce global climate problems than anything we’re doing here with, you know, $400 billion worth of subsidies, you know, tax credits for electric cars for people who don't need the money …” [Fox Business, Kudlow, 8/4/22]
Republican strategist and Fox News contributor Karl Rove: “... and also take a look at the climate provisions. Let's take money out of the pockets of people who drive a car with gas engine in order to help subsidize the purchase of a very expensive electric vehicle, which in most instances is second car for an affluent taxpayer. How does that make sense?” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria, 8/4/22]
Republican communicator Matt Whitlock: