As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why Postponing Health Care Hurts Climate Change

Another factor to breaking for a three-week recess before finishing work on the health care bill is that it pushes everything back in the queue. There are serious efforts to arrive at legislation on financial regulation, as well as the Senate's version of a climate and energy bill already passed by the House, that now necessarily get moved aside. And in the meantime, energy and activist attention goes away from those priorities. It gives know-nothings like George Will more time to sow doubt and throw up meaningless statistics to make verifiably false claims about the condition of the planet. Even people who are on the side of doing something about climate change have contributed to this by raising unfounded fears about speculation in the cap and trade market and the dangers of Wall Street involvement (simply put, there are mechanisms to ban derivatives in Waxman-Markey, and the survival of the planet outranks the desire to deny profit to those trading carbon). It gives lobbyists more time to marshal their forces against anything but the status quo. And unlike with health care, where the progressive movement has focused for some time, on climate change the denialists are much further along in their activism, and delay actually will sap the fortitude of lawmakers.

The opposition to Waxman-Markey did a good job with phone calls to House members. They at least matched the calls that enviros and progressives delivered — though I’m told an analysis shows that most of their calls were out-of-state, while most of ours were in state. Still, that’s one reason we didn’t get more votes.

The climate destroyers are keeping up their attack on vulnerable House members — even if it means eating their own (see “Honey, I shrunk the GOP, Part 1: Conservatives vow to purge all members who support clean energy or science-based policy”).

The good news is that The Hill reports, “A coalition of labor, environmental and veterans groups is spending serious money to make sure Democrats who supported the cap-and-trade legislation have political cover.” Very important stuff, for sure — after all, the House is going to have to vote again on some House-Senate conference version of this bill in early 2010 assuming the Senate acts.

But we should be equaling, if not beating, calls to key senators right now. Heck, I’m told that Senators who aren’t even really swing votes are getting more than 100 calls a day opposing climate action. And those matter too, in terms of how even Senators on our side gauge public sentiment and how much they are willing to fight for the strongest possible bill.

That has a cumulative effect, even if members of the Senate want to pass good legislation. And hanging House members out to dry who voted for Waxman-Markey with nothing to show for it will damage them in 2010. Right now, the Senate is engaged in a zero-sum game, and at the end of the year, they might welcome having those three weeks back when they look at what they failed to produce.

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