Each morning, Bill Scher and Terrance Heath serve up what progressives need to affect change on the kitchen-table issues families face: jobs, health care, green energy, financial reform, affordable education and retirement security.
Major Climate Vote In Senate Today
NYT edit board explains damage Murkowski’s anti-EPA resolution would do to climate protection: “It seeks to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s formal determination in 2009 that the buildup of greenhouse gases threatens public health and welfare. That finding is the basis of E.P.A.’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide from vehicles and other sources. It is also one of the main underpinnings of the historic agreement in April to tighten fuel economy standards for the first time in more than 30 years. Repudiating the finding would cripple the E.P.A.’s ability to enforce that agreement as well as its authority to require stronger standards in the future.”
Anchorage Daily News edit board criticizes Sen. Murkowski for playing politics instead of passing comprehensive climate legislation: “…this vote is more distraction than constructive step … Congress can pre-empt any long reach by the EPA if Congress does its job.”
Murkowski whines that people are linking her anti-EPA proposal to Big Oil: “‘I am flabbergasted that they would be jumping to this conclusion’ … Groups including the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association … are urging senators to back Murkowski’s plan.”
“Murkowski ‘dirty air’ proposal would increase oil dependence, cost consumers at gas pump,” notes Climate Progress.
1Sky urges calls to Senators today to defeat Murkowski.
Dem leaders may block bill by offering right-leaning Dems a similar but narrower alternative. The Hill: “[Sen.] Rockefeller said EPA regulation of carbon could have a ‘devastating’ impact on West Virginia. He threw his support to Murkowski after his leaders denied him a vote on his alternative bill resolution, which would prevent the EPA curbing carbon emissions for two years from stationary sources, such as power plants and factories. Murkowski’s resolution is broader, blocking EPA regulation of cars and trucks … Rockefeller now says a vote on his proposal is a distinct possibility … Unlike Murkowski’s measure, Rockefeller’s bill will need 60 votes … Reid could hold a floor vote on Rockefeller’s resolution in the fall, after the fate of comprehensive energy and climate legislation is decided this summer. ”
House conservatives look to pass similar measure. ClimateWire: “If the Senate opposes the Murkowski measure, ‘We will then be the preferred option, I think, so we’ll be working very hard to bring our measure forward at that point,’ said Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), who is co-sponsoring a bill that would prevent EPA from regulating stationary sources of greenhouse gases for two years.”
Lugar Energy Bill Scrambles Climate Debate
Reid looking to combine provisions from various energy and climate proposals. GreenWire: “…Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) meets with key committee leaders [today] to map out a floor strategy for the next two months. A special Democratic caucus is also planned for next Thursday to give all 59 senators a chance to weigh in … Kerry and Lieberman are fighting just to keep the carbon-pricing mechanism in the bill that kicks off the floor debate, rather than being forced to offer their ideas as an amendment … Graham said he wants to wait until 2011 to work on climate legislation … with a focus on setting limits just on the electric utility industry … [That] could still gain ground this year if electric utility companies gave the signal, said Christine Tezak, a financial analyst … ‘Taking industrials off the table can help gain you votes in the Midwest,’ she said.”
WH sees new energy bill from GOP Sen. Richard Lugar as possible compromise. Politico: “A White House official said the Lugar language could help get the Senate toward a bipartisan bill in late summer: ‘There are some good things in there. It’s not the overall answer, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. That certainly could be a vehicle for progress.’”
Mixed reaction from enviros to Lugar. CQ: “Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a letter that he welcomed the Lugar initiative, especially the focus on energy efficiency, ‘which as you have noted is the fastest, cheapest route to our energy and climate change goals.’ Reaction among environmentalists was mixed, with some welcoming Lugar’s engagement on the issue and others rejecting his proposals as too weak.”
TNR’s Brad Plumer underwhelmed by Lugar compromise: “Lugar’s bill would only cut emissions 9 percent below 2005 levels by 2017. By contrast, the Kerry-Lieberman bill would do 17 percent by 2020, and even that’s on the low end of what climate scientists would recommend … because there’s no overall cap on carbon, it’s not even assured that Lugar’s bill would lead to these promised cuts … Lugar’s ‘diverse energy standard’ would actually lead to less new renewable power than if Congress simply did nothing … some of Lugar’s proposals are great—the building efficiency stuff, especially—but others look downright counterproductive…”
Sen. Lindsey Graham backs Lugar bill despite previously denouncing “half-assed” energy bills with no carbon cap. Mother Jones’ Kate Sheppard: “Reporters asked Graham several times about why he was supporting Lugar’s bill, when just a few months ago he had argued that the Senate shouldn’t pass a ‘half-assed’ bill … Graham replied that he now doesn’t think pricing carbon is that important. ‘The science about global warming has changed,’ he noted, offhandedly. ‘I think they’ve oversold this stuff, quite frankly. I think they’ve been alarmist and the science is in question…’” EARLIER GRAHAM: “the idea of not pricing carbon, in my view, means you’re not serious about energy independence.”
New poll shows support for climate action has grown since January reports Climate Progress.
EPA score of Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act expected today. Grist’s Michael Livermore: “Hopefully that analysis will include the benefits, not just the costs of the measure. The agency has not incorporated benefits into its past economic analysis of climate legislation.”
The Atlantic’s Joshua Green argues the oil spill is undermining the Tea Party: “The Tea Party movement, animated by intense disapproval of government activism, has smacked up against an unprecedented environmental disaster that is providing a vivid daily illustration of why an activist government is sometimes necessary … if voters come to associate government intervention in the marketplace with incentivizing clean technology rather than propping up General Motors, then Obama will find himself in a more advantageous position.”
NRDC complies video of worst Tony Hayward quotes to push for comprehensive climate legislation.
Interior Sec. Salazar offers glimmer of optimism on Gulf gusher. LAT: “Federal officials conceded Wednesday that efforts to contain the well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico may have boosted the amount of oil gushing out, but predicted they would be able to nearly double the quantity of crude collected by next week. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also reassured congressional representatives from the beleaguered gulf states that a six-month moratorium on drilling … could be lifted sooner if new studies and protections are put into place.”
Rep. Ed Markey tells Rachel Maddow that the oil industry did not invest in safety technology to prevent spills. “…I’m going to introduce this legislation that will create a fund for research into modern safety technologies.”
CEO posse backs major funding for clean energy research, while trashing cap on carbon emissions. NYT: “[Bill] Gates said the group had not yet identified any potential breakthrough technologies, but was looking at advances in known energy sources — nuclear power, solar and wind — as well as in technology to store electricity and capture carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel plants. The group says that the nation must put a price on carbon emissions, but does not endorse a single method like a tax or a cap-and-trade scheme.”
Senate Scraps For Jobs Votes Amidst Deficit Hysteria
Senate leaders still searching for 60 votes in support of latest jobs bill, get boost from Bernanke. NYT: “…a handful of Republicans who would be the most obvious prospects for supporting it were resisting, saying they were alarmed by the measure’s mounting price tag and its $78 billion impact on the deficit … [Bernanke told Congress,] ‘This very moment is not the time to radically reduce our spending or raise our taxes because the economy is still in a recovery mode…’”
Senators move to extend COBRA benefits left out of House bill. HuffPost: “As the Senate debates a bill to reauthorize expired domestic aid programs … Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) have introduced an amendment that would add COBRA back into the extenders bill.”
NYT edit board issues stern warning against global deficit hysteria: “…for everybody to slash public spending when growth is faltering and unemployment remains stubbornly high risks undercutting the goal of fiscal probity by slowing economic growth and reducing tax revenues … Some countries, such as Spain or Portugal, may have to drastically cut their budgets if they don’t want to lose their access to capital markets. But countries such as Germany, Britain and the United States have space to spend.”
Columbia Journalism Review’s Holly Yeager cautions reporters not to assume voters are more concerned about the deficit than jobs: “…while jobs isn’t always the trump card, [polls] show nothing that could be described as widespread public concern about the deficit.”
“Sovereign Debt Crisis not caused by the Welfare State” explains New Deal 2.0′s Henry Liu: “…it has been caused by deregulated financial markets that allowed governments to borrow huge sums against future revenue from public sector enterprises without showing the liabilities on government balance sheets.”
FAIR Blog rips NYT and W. Post for another round of misreporting on Social Security: “…Social Security has amassed a surplus of over $2 trillion; that plus the expected revenue from Social Security taxes will keep the program solid for the next 25 years. Medicare is in much worse shape; why the two should be talked about together as if they are comparable drains on the federal government is unclear, unless one wants to associate Social Security with Medicare’s more severe problems.” More from The Century Foundation’s Greg Anrig.
Derivatives Reform Up In Air As House-Senate Conference Meets
Politico predicts contentious debate over Lincoln derivatives firewall: “Supporters, including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), rallied behind Lincoln on Wednesday, saying her primary election win Tuesday boosted her bargaining power. And privately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has backed Lincoln’s language … The plan faces opposition from the administration, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve … [Sen. Dodd] called it a ‘strong provision’ and said she ‘was on the right track.’ He did not, however, agree with his Democratic colleagues Wednesday who said Lincoln’s election win would make it harder to eliminate the provision. And Frank, who is chairing the conference committee, gave no indication Wednesday of where he intended to steer the House-Senate conference on the issue … Frank secured a commitment from C-SPAN to televise [today's 2:15 PM ET] conference…”
Sunlight Foundation will livestream conference committee while showing campaign cash each member received from Wall Street.
Simon Johnson puts onus on Obama to fight for tough reform, in Economix column: “Is he willing to put his political capital seriously into play? Or is his newfound (and oil-spill inspired) rhetoric against runaway corporate power and pathetic regulation at best completely empty and at worst a smokescreen for continued abuses?”
The Meaning Of Arkansas
WH and labor leaders exchange words in Politico, but unions still plan to remain engaged in November: “Labor leaders say they are still Obama allies, but they won’t be taken for granted. Both the SEIU and AFL-CIO plan to exceed their campaign spending in the November midterms compared with expenditures in 2006, the last off-year.”
What the powers that be don’t know is that progressives built power in the Arkansas race. PCCC:: “Bill Halter started nearly 20 points down. He wasn’t taken seriously by most insiders. But he gave Blanche Lincoln the scare of a lifetime with the help of a vibrant progressive movement — thousands of people who committed time, talent, and small-dollar donations in the fight for change.”
White House officials are learning the wrong lesson from Arkansas. HuffPost’s Ari Melber: “…by taking every opportunity to endorse these incumbents — and to chide liberals for backing like-minded candidates — the White House only risks exacerbating the enthusiasm gap in the Democratic base”
DNC launches hard-hitting health care ad. TPMDC: “Democrats on Thursday will launch a new 60-second ad on national cable television accusing repeal-happy Republicans of wanting to get rid of health care reform and all its benefits … I’ve learned that DNC Chairman Tim Kaine on Thursday will dare Republicans to make repeal the focus of their fall campaign … challenging the GOP to tell senior citizens and others benefiting from health care exactly which parts of the reform law they’d scrap.”