Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 7, 2010

MOVING FORWARD ON A CLIMATE BILL -- SANS GRAHAM.... The tri-partisan climate/energy bill in the Senate, months in the making, was supposed to be unveiled last week, on April 26. At the 11th hour, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) backed out, blamed it on Democrats' renewed interest in his bipartisan immigration bill, and imperiled the entire effort.

Today, the two senators Graham had been working with -- Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) -- announced that they're moving forward without him.

Kerry and Lieberman released a statement today announcing their plan to roll out a climate and energy bill on Wednesday.

In their statement, they seemed to imply that events of the last few weeks had helped the climate bill's prospects: "We are more encouraged today that we can secure the necessary votes to pass this legislation this year in part because the last weeks have given everyone with a stake in this issue a heightened understanding that as a nation, we can no longer wait to solve this problem which threatens our economy, our security and our environment."

That sounds entirely sensible, but it may not be realistic. As we talked about the other day, getting a climate/energy bill through the Senate was going to be tough under normal circumstances. Now, in the wake of the BP oil spill disaster, it's even trickier -- key Dems now insist drilling be taken off the table, while Republicans and Democratic industry allies (Louisiana's Mary Landrieu, for example) now insist they won't even consider a bill unless it includes plenty of drilling.

When the need for a breakthrough on U.S. energy policy should be acutely obvious, the politics has become harder, not easier.

For his part, Graham issued a confusing statement earlier today, arguing that all work on the climate/energy bill he championed should be put on hold because of "the uncertainty of the immigration debate and the consequences of the oil spill." He specifically rejected the notion that the disaster in the Gulf improves the political prospects of a new energy policy.

What's less clear to me is exactly what it is Graham thinks policymakers should do right now. The choice has been between climate and immigration, both of which were to see bipartisan reform bills, thanks to Graham's cooperation. Except, now Graham believes his climate bill should be shelved indefinitely, and he believes his immigration bill shouldn't move forward.

Maybe Dems should simply thank Graham for his time and stop including him in their governing strategies.

Steve Benen 1:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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Comments

Why didn't someone tell the Broderites that most of the proposed legislation being considered by the Senate has at least bi-partisan, if not tri-partisan (Democrats, Socialists and Likud [Lieberman]) support ?

Change the meme to state that the Constitution never requires unanimity !

Posted by: H-Bob on May 7, 2010 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

key Dems now insist drilling be taken off the table, while Republicans and Democratic industry allies . . . now insist they won't even consider a bill unless it includes plenty of drilling.

How's this for a compromise:

Bring the energy bill forward without additional drilling and have drilling voted on as a separate, stand-alone amendment. But as a part of the amendment, every legislator voting for it would pledge their entire fortune, less $25,000 -- enough for a used car and a downpayment on a double-wide -- to pay any taxpayer costs of future oil spill cleanups.

After all, aren't Republicans and conservative Democrats always lecturing us about personal responsibility? They're assuring us that offshore drilling can be done safely. So let's see them put their money where their mouths are (and I don't mean up the outflow chutes of the oil industry).


Posted by: SteveT on May 7, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

This stuff is all a sideshow. Here's what really matters: Congress and Obama staying out of the way while the EPA regulates carbon emissions.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on May 7, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Someone must have threatened to out Graham if he cooperates with the Democrats. I'm sure the C-street boys have some incriminating pictures, or perhaps Reker got his reference for Rentboy.com from Graham.

Posted by: Winkandanod on May 7, 2010 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

I work for RentBoy.com ....

Posted by: Senator Graham on May 7, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

What SteveT said was the smartest thing I've read all week.

Posted by: smartalek on May 7, 2010 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

At this point, I'm not exactly thrilled about this climate bill. I've read there's provisions in it that limit the EPA's regulatory power. That's a definite turn off for me. As for the drilling -- I'm torn. I can't help but imagine how things might be different had we not had Cheney's deregulation of oil rig safety standards -- It's all playing out like a bad Hollywood movie: Evil corporation sabotages oil rig causing environmental disaster which triggers backlash from environmentalists (of which I am one) who then tussle with opponents, both dooming a compromise bill on comprehensive Energy policy -- resulting in status quo. I just hope the good guys win this fight.

Posted by: JWK on May 7, 2010 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

@Steve LaBonne:

Great idea, in theory, until another Bush/Cheney-esque administration. You'd also be missing a big piece of the puzzle...permanent and lasting renewable standards. Otherwise you end up with an energy policy that looks exactly like the past 35 years...a patchwork of meager tax credits and rebates that sunset every year or so. Put another way...nothing a fledgling market can depend upon to grow and sustain itself long term.

All this hand-wringing reminds me of HCR post-Brown election. Unlike then on HCR, there's more than only one serious way to get to passage.

Posted by: JRinDallas on May 7, 2010 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

If the GOP wants to make this an issue for November, that's fine by me. Dems need to start doing what is right and press the other side to argue the merits.

Face it, there was NO regulation during the Bush years. Just facilitation.

In the interim, Obama needs to push the EPA to bust some balls and exert whatever authority and punitive capability it currently has. They haven't even gotten out of second gear, IMO.

Posted by: bdop4 on May 7, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "When the need for a breakthrough on U.S. energy policy should be acutely obvious, the politics has become harder, not easier."

The "politics" is hard for one reason and one reason only: the death-grip of the wealthy and powerful fossil fuel corporations on US energy policy.

The purpose of health care policy in the USA is not to provide health care to the American people, it is to enrich the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations.

The purpose of energy policy in the USA is not to provide safe, abundant, clean and inexhaustible supplies of energy to the American people, it is to enrich the fossil fuel corporations.

That is the "political reality".

And unfortunately, in both cases there is a "bipartisan consensus" that protecting the profits and power of corporate interests trumps the public interest.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 7, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

JR, a bill is also a great idea in theory- except that we're simply not going to get one that makes any meaningful progress on reducing emissions. I'll take an actually effective strategy, thanks, even if it risks being temporary.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on May 7, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

so graham wants the climate bill stalled because of "the uncertainty of the immigration debate and the consequences of the oil spill"?

in other words, of his two reasons for stalling:
-the first has nothing to do whatsoever with climate or energy (besides senatorial inside baseball)
-and the second would, to normal human beings, cause one to wish to proceed NOW with climate legislation.

and senator howdy-doody was supposedly one of the "reasonable" republicans.....

Posted by: ahoy polloi on May 7, 2010 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

JR & Steve,

one thing that EPA regulation can't/won't do -- and that which is the most essential for real energy innovation -- is put a price on carbon.

until the private sector gets an economic signal that is consistent, we'll just be whistling past the graveyard.

Posted by: ahoy polloi on May 7, 2010 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

We'll just take that football back now, Lucy.

Posted by: Cazart on May 7, 2010 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

It is clear that Graham is being (sexually) blackmailed by the extreme right and is just looking for an excuse to get out of being the sole Republican who breaks ranks with the 'make Obama fail at all costs' strategy the party has adopted. You are correct. The Democrats should just let him go. He doesn't have the courage to take these people on. Not many would. Certainly not this guy.

Posted by: SW on May 7, 2010 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Let's face it folks. The Senate somewhere grew a super-majority requirement that makes passing anything by simple majority "armegeddon." The Republicans have agreed to act as a bloc to block anything the Democrats favor. This means, effectively, that any significant legislation is impossible.

This is an insane way to run a legislature, but until it gets changes, we are stuck with it.

Posted by: Enlightened Layperson on May 9, 2010 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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