This will likely be the Democrats’ last chance to adopt meaningful climate action and avert disaster. They have about a year to get the White House agenda off the ground and save the country (and the world) from the worst effects of climate change before the midterm elections jeopardize their tight control over Congress. Negotiations on the scope of the Democratic Climate and Social Network bill continue, but Democratic leaders are already preparing for crumbs.
“I am very disappointed that we are not working with the original $ 3.5 trillion,” House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi told reporters this week. “But whatever we do, we will make choices that will continue to be transformative.”
To cut the $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, Pelosi said her approach will be to reduce the number of years spent on programs rather than skipping key initiatives altogether. But Pelosi’s comments on Tuesday also undermined a letter she had sent to her colleagues the night before, quoting pressure from members to “do fewer things well”.
Still, progressive politicians remain keen to include all of the president’s priorities in the bill, from climate regulations to childcare to expanding healthcare. “We will not play childcare against climate change,” said Pramila Jayapal on Tuesday. “We’re not going to play seniors against young people.”
“We would reduce the number of years because the universality of the services and the immediacy of the services are absolutely critical,” added Jayapal. “And to be honest, that’s more important to us than having it all 10 years.”
Months of political coverage of the horse racing negotiations, along with a complicated legislative process, have moved the goalposts and distorted the climate debate. Initially, progressives and environmental groups called for $ 10 trillion in climate spending over the next decade, an amount closer to that Experts say is needed to cope with the scale of the crisis. Now the Democrats want to cut the $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation bill to about half. (Sales of $ 3.5 trillion are smaller than it sounds, equivalent to about 1.2 percent of US GDP.)
The Democrats also disagree on whether the government should continue to subsidize the very sector that made investments in climate protection so urgent. It wasn’t until this summer that we saw apocalyptic weather events, driven by climate change, devastating the United States, exposing the vulnerability of the country’s infrastructure, from deadly heat waves in the Pacific Northwest to the flooding of the New York City subway system . The elimination of domestic fossil fuel subsidies that add profitability to the destruction of the planet should be poor fruit.
A recent analysis by the International Monetary Fund found that the fossil fuel industry receives $ 11 million in subsidies every minute. The mining and combustion of coal, oil, and gas were subsidized by the IMF to the tune of $ 5.9 trillion in 2020, with explicit subsidies accounting for 8 percent of the total and tax breaks accounting for a further 6 percent.