John O’Connor

Well it looks like Congressional Democrats may finally get the climate change bill they’ve been chasing for more than a decade. But should that happen, quite a few long-term care operators might soon be hot under the collar.

In a largely unexpected legislative reversal, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he will now support the trimmed down climate package, which promises to point more than $350 billion at greenhouse gas emissions. A vote could come in the next few days. And assuming Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) goes along, the spending plan could be law within weeks.

So what’s not to like?

Well, there’s the matter of a 15% minimum tax provision on many corporations. As the Wall Street Journal points out, this tax will slam businesses whose taxable income is lower than the profits on their financial statements “owing to the likes of investment expensing, tax credits and business deductions.” Many firms pay less than the 21% corporate tax rate because they can expense investments under the tax code up-front. Any way you slice it, the new tax will increase the cost of business investment. I’m pretty sure that’s a bad thing.

And based on accounting assumptions that could only be used with a straight face in Washington, backers claim the bill will pay for itself while also trimming the federal deficit.

Ah yes, the old spend-real-money-today-to-save-hypothetical-money-tomorrow argument. The next time that strategy works just might be the first. Small wonder an army of business lobbyists remain unconvinced.

“Taxes that discourage investment and price controls that limit innovation will make our current economic problems worse,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley said in a statement.

Look, I’m no climate-change denier. Nor am I a climate-change absolutist. By geological standards, the last 100 years or so is a pretty small sample size. Still, when icebergs the size of New Jersey start breaking loose and the ozone layer gets a bald spot, there just might be some legitimate cause for concern.

So here’s my unsolicited advice to Congress: Go ahead and try to fix the climate. Just please don’t do it on the industry’s back.

Nursing homes have been whipsawed by COVID-19, inflation, staffing challenges, pointed fingers and a laundry list of major problems lately. The last thing providers need is a law that takes their breath away.

John O’Connor is editorial director for McKnight’s.

Opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.