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AP file photo by Sebastian Scheiner / U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty gestures as he speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in May.

How many of us already are browsing automaker websites to decide what electric car we'd like to buy with the possible $12,000 tax incentive in the Build Back Better plan passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday morning?

Sure, it might be a little like counting chickens before they're hatched, since the Senate still has to OK the legislation, but it sure beats counting the uptick in COVID-19 cases around us.

And judging from the agonizing wails of Republicans — from Tennessee Sen. Bill Hagerty's misleading op-ed last week in the Nashville Tennessean to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's eight-hour screed on the House floor last week — the Senate passage looks to be on track. Otherwise, gentlemen, methinks thou doth protest too much.

Actually a better question is: Why do they mislead so much?

Let's focus on Hagerty. His first sentence was something to the effect that President Joe Biden returned the UN Climate Conference in Scotland focused entirely on "ramming through his 'Build Back Better' Plan, which is a multitrillion-dollar, debt-fueled boondoggle."

Hagerty has Vanderbilt degrees in economics and business administration, as well as a Vandy doctorate in law. Over the years, he has served as an economic adviser and White House fellow under President George H.W. Bush, a commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, a U.S. ambassador to Japan, and of course he still serves as a U.S. senator.

Why then could he not read and understand estimates indicating the legislation would — yes — increase the deficit by about $367 billion over 10 years, BUT be offset, according to the Treasury Department, by $400 billion in increased IRS enforcement of tax laws — particularly enforcement of millionaire loopholes? Those estimates have been out there for a while, and they were confirmed last week by the Congressional Budget Office.

But what Hagerty most misled his readers about were the electric vehicle incentives in the Build Back Better plan. He characterized the incentives as an "indefensible" payoff to unions.

"[O]ne of the most absurd [indefensible provisions] is a $4,500 bonus tax credit for electric vehicles (EVs) — but only for EVs assembled in a union-organized facility."

Hagerty went on: "For example, under the current Biden Build Back Boondoggle, the purchaser of a vehicle made in a unionized location would be eligible for a $4,500 tax incentive, but the purchaser of an identically priced Volkswagen ID.4 made in Chattanooga would not." (VW workers have twice rejected the United Auto Workers.)

The Tennessean had to step in at that juncture of Hagerty's commentary and write in italics: "(Editor's note: All electric vehicle buyers receive a $7,500 tax incentive, but the senator is correct that an additional $4,500 incentive would go only to consumers who buy from unionized plants under the proposal.)"

But never doubt: the work of a politician is always to speak from both sides of his or her mouth. Consider these Hagerty statements; the first in the spring and the second in September when Ford announced it would build its electric F-150 series trucks in Tennessee:

— "The Green New Deal would send heating, electricity and transportation bills soaring for Americans, disrupting our workforce, destroying our economy and devastating families in the process."

— "Truly transformational! ... With this investment, the Volunteer State is on the cutting edge of the automotive industry, not only leading domestically but globally."

Toward the end of his commentary, Hagerty made us laugh out loud when he called the EV incentives a "highly discriminatory tax break."

This from the guy who, with most of his other Tennessee political GOP colleagues, has called immigrant children "alien."

And this from the guy who continues to champion subsidies for nuclear, coal and other fossil fuels over alternative energy.

But perhaps the real gist of Hagerty's problem (and that of other politicians both Democratic and Republican) was reported in Sludge earlier this month:

One in four U.S. senators is invested in the fossil fuel industry, according to member disclosures filed in the Senate Office of Public Records and analyzed by Sludge, an independent, nonprofit news outlet that produces investigative journalism on lobbying and money in politics.

One of those fossil-fuel invested senators is Bill Hagerty. Sludge reports that Hagerty "owns as much as almost $1.5 million in nine fossil fuel companies, led by up to half a million dollars in pipeline firm Enterprise Products Partners, a member of top national lobbying groups the American Petroleum Institute (API) and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), and the same amount in methane gas giant Energy Transfer."

As has been widely reported, another very "invested" senator is Democrat Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, who Sludge reports as the senator with the most fossil fuel wealth. He also is the Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman and Energy Subcommittee ex-officio member. And, of course, he's a key vote — or not — when the Senate takes up the Build Back Better legislation.

The big pols on Capitol Hill expect a Senate vote on Build Back Better by Christmas.

It will be interesting to watch. We wonder just how many lumps of coal they will stuff into our stockings.

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