Rengal/Peterson facing Pelosi
This is an example of House leadership flexing its political muscle. I wrote about the path forward for the Waxman-Markey bill after it passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee. The two biggest obstacles appeared to be Charlie Rengal wanting to do healthcare first, while sitting on the climate bill. He adamantly said “we’re doing health care first”. The other was Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson who was threatening to building a voting bloc of democrats to KILL the bill(not kill bill the movie) if certain provisions regarding the EPA regulating biofuels and offsets for agriculture weren’t met.
What’s being said now? According to Joe Romm of Climate Progress, Pelosi is setting a deadline for the bill to be out of all committees by June 19th. What’s Charlie Rengal saying now?
“Chairman Charles Rangel of the House Ways and Means Committee said he learned today that his panel has a deadline of June 19 to complete its version of the cap-and-trade bill now pending in the House. The New York Democrat told reporters, “We’re going to make it” — referring to the deadline, which he said he was informed about by his staff. The staff apparently had gotten word of the deadline from the House Democratic leadership….”
““We’re under the hammer,” Rangel told reporters following an hourlong meeting in the Capitol with more than two dozen of his Democratic committee members.”
Ouch! Try sitting on that! What about Mr. Peterson?
““We’re not trying to stop this bill,” Peterson told reporters. “We’re trying to make it so we believe it’s workable. That’s where we’re coming from. We’re going to have a bill, something from the standpoint of agriculture, that’s going to work. That makes sense. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish here.”
Staff for Peterson and Waxman are now going over the Agriculture Committee chairman’s concerns, but that does not necessarily mean the panel will hold its own markup on the bill.”
Now I’ve always thought that Speaker Pelosi wasn’t the most artful politician, and I haven’t been the biggest fan…but I do have to say…DAMN!
This has by my account been a very good week for the environmental movement. First fuel economy standards were toughened by the Obama administration. Then, a story broke about how the US and China were closing in on a climate deal between the two, just in time for Copenhagen. Finally, the Waxman-Markey climate bill passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which was quite a hurdle. Now obviously there is still a whole lot to be accomplished. While the new fuel economy standards are welcome, they could certainly be higher. While the US and China and closing in on a deal, how good of a deal that will be, and whether or not it’s reached before the end of the year remains to be seen. The climate bill has gotten one obstacle out of the way, but it still has many more to go, and it could definitely be stronger. However, it’s important we take note of good things when they happen. The editorial in the NY Times today does just that. Some notable excerpts are posted below.
“For anyone eager to see the United States take a serious leadership role on the issue of global warming, this week was enormously encouraging.”
“In fairly short order, President Obama and a Democratically controlled Congress have made the lassitude and indifference of the Bush years seem like ancient history. And they have greatly improved the prospects that American negotiators will arrive at the next round of global climate negotiations in Copenhagen with a credible strategy in hand and with the leverage to encourage other major emitters like China to get cracking.”
“Critics says these and other provisions are too generous to polluters, and in truth the bill is not as strong as it should be. But anything more might well fail, as other bills have failed, and then the country would be back to Square 1. As it is, the bill represents an ambitious first step toward a solution too long delayed for a problem too long denied.”
I’m a couple days behind the news on this one, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. Here’s an interesting article in case you want more background http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/23/us/politics/23waxman.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2
For anyone who doesn’t know, Democrat John Dingell of Michigan has been one of the most powerful members of Congress, and held his seat for well over half a century. He used to be the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Dingell is one of the main reasons why environmental and climate legislation has been so difficult to pass in the House. He “protected” the auto industries fro decades from improved CAFE standards, and emissions standards. Ironically enough, he’s probably one of the main reasons why the auto industry has been driven into the ground. Dingell’s chairmanship was challenged by Henry Waxman of California, a Congressman who has been much more proactive on energy and environmental legislation. Just having Democrats in control of Congress isn’t enough. We need to have the right Democrats in charge of the right committees. I’m looking forward to seeing how things change in 2009 with Henry Waxman as the new chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
It’s about time John Dingell got what he deserved.
Bail Me Out So I Can Produce More of These!
That’s pretty much the main question dominating a lot of the news at this point. In my opinion, they should only be bailed out on one condition, and that is a mandate to put out top of the line fuel efficient cars. No more of these monster trucks. Sadly, it doesn’t look like the Big 3 are willing to do that. I’ve always had a very sour taste in my mouth when it comes to these guys.
I remember a few years back the CEO’s being asked on TV about the debate over CAFE standards, and whether or not their companies would be willing to put out more fuel efficient cars. They all spewed out their “oh, regulations will be bad for that, lets just let the market tell us which cars to produce”. Well boys, the market has spoken loud and clear. This is why I’m really realllly tempted to just say to them “if the free market is so important to you when times are good, then why should it matter any less when times are bad?”. I become even more tempted to watch them go under when you look at what they’re doing right now. Every time I’m watching TV I see a commercial for some over sized SUV that few people want or need, and the people on the commercial telling me confidently how this car gets a stunning 24 mpg highway. There’s no reason we should be bailing out anyone trying to sell us that. Of course it gets even worse when you look at the incredible salaries these CEO’s are getting while they drive their companies into the ground. And did you guys have to show up to Congress to beg for money in private jets? I hope the PR person was fired for that one.
So there’s all these reasons why I have little sympathy for the companies. My only real concern is the workers, and how the collapse of these guys will affect the economy. We’re talking about millions of jobs here, and in an economy as weak at ours, we can’t afford that kind of a rise in unemployment. There’s also the issue of fuel efficient cars. The foreign automakers might be better, but they aren’t perfect. It could be very beneficial for us if we bail out these companies, and then in return force them to produce cars with far higher fuel economy. It could be a crucial way to help solve our foreign oil dependency, while at the same time saving millions of jobs.
So these would be my conditions. For starters, there’s already 25 billion dollars allocated for the production of more fuel efficient cars. That money shouldn’t be touched for anything else, so we’re not tapping into that. I’d prefer to use the money from the 700 billion $$ already allocated, but either way would do. I’d support us dropping them a lifeline of up to 50 billion dollars, with a few simple conditions. Only 5% of cars produced can be trucks and SUVS. Average CAFE standards automatically raise to 30 mpg, and they rise by 5 mpg every 3 years. Also, more than 50% of cars produced must have hybrid technology. Sounds fair to me.
Obviously I’m living a pipe dream though, but those are the only conditions under which I would support a bailout.
I read an interesting article “60 seats“, about how the Democrats may reach 60 seats in the Senate once you count the two independents which caucus with them. It sounds like a bit of the stretch, but the number will definately be in the high 50’s. As for the house, we’re looking at 17-21 more seats swing Dem. And right now, Obama’s prospects of taking the White House look good. Quite frankly I’d like to see this domination just because I had to put up with 6 years of Republican rule full of bullshit. I want conservatives to go through the same headache for what they put this country through. So I hope the Democrats sweep. And I hope they slam as many progressive policies as possible down the throats of conservatives.
In reality, I think we’ll own the House, have the Presidency, but only have a majority in the Senate, not 60 seats. Another point of reality, is that the Democrats better make this country look very good very fast. It’s going to be very hard to hold a lot of these seats which are in typically conservative Districts. People don’t seem to have an appetite for allowing a party to dominate every branch of government. The tough part is that Bush has left such a mess and a gigantic deficit that it will be hard for the Dems to look too good. I’m looking wayyyy too far ahead, but I think, and fear that many of the gains we make in 2008 will be lost in 2010 and 2012.
Short post here. At some point I’ll make a longer and in depth post about my opinions on the offshore drilling debate in Washington and in America (namely why it’s a joke and a farce), and also explain my rationale of how environmental groups and Democrats in Congress should go about the politics of it (which is at odds with environmentalists).
However, I found this clip too funny to not share. I was watching a very interesting Senate hearing on energy last weekend. A bipartisan group of Senators brought five of the nations energy experts to a panel to ask questions on how to best move forward with America’s energy policy. Of these experts, one was a member of Shell, three were either professors or heads of institutes, and one was from Google. Of the five, only the guy from google could be considered an environmentalist. He was balanced out by the man from Shell, and the other 3 were pretty much neutral. Now during this hearing, many of the Senator’s questions(particularly the Republicans) were directed at trying to pin the panel into #1. Expressing that offshore drilling should be part of our energy policy, #2. That it should be a priority. Four out of the five were willing to bite on the bait of saying offshore drilling should be part of the energy policy. However, as I know, offshore drilling is so inadequate with meeting our oil consumption and also takes 5-10 years to get oil out of the ground. So it was great when one of the Senators cut through the bullshit and asked a pointed question of his own. Owned.