Does Biden understand the seriousness?

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Does Biden understand the seriousness?

The author is a Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

On September 13, I attended a White House celebration for the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Voters invited from each district, civic groups and union officials gathered and enjoyed the early fall weather in Washington DC.

James Taylor, a longtime Democratic supporter, had a performance. When he sang “America the Beautiful,” some attendees stood up and sang together. It reminded me of how former President Donald Trump appeared as “God Bless the USA” was playing at a similar spot a few years ago.

Recently, the IRA garnered concerns and attention from Korea because of the clause that only gives subsidies to electric vehicles (EVs) produced in North America. Korean government officials who visited Washington to prevent discrimination against Korean-made EVs said that the U.S. government and the White House was aware of the gravity of the problem.

But the messages sent by the first, second and third in power in the United States — the president, the vice president and the speaker of the House — were quite different from the observations. There were many moments that made me feel skeptical about a revision in the near future.

Vice President Kamala Harris said that it was a law that made progress in history. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the law with a beautiful name will change American people’s lives. The IRA has already become the main item for the government and the Democratic Party in the midterm election in November.

But the speeches did not include much about EVs. President Joe Biden only spoke briefly about how electric vehicles and infrastructure will all be “made in America.” The main topics were renewable energy investment in response to climate change and price stability through lowering medicine and medical costs. The audience applauded each time.

Another issue is that the IRA is at the center of confrontation with Republicans. Not a single Republican voted for the bill. Stressing this, Biden criticized the Republican leadership for openly vowing to scrap the bill if the Republican Party becomes a majority in the midterm election. Biden is practically declaring a strong will to protect the IRA.

Various measures are being discussed to address discrimination against Korean-made EVs. But there is no solution other than revising the law. Is Biden really aware of the gravity of the issue as Seoul claims? The celebration once again confirmed that the calculation of the White House in the run-up to the election is not that simple.
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