No 717 Posted by fw, April 14, 2013
“…the budget released this week makes it clear that Obama’s surprising appeal to Congress was an empty piece of rhetoric. The phrase “climate change” appears twenty-nine times in the new budget, but there is no new plan for Congress to take up in Obama’s otherwise ambitious legislative blueprint. There are some worthy energy initiatives that could achieve modest reductions in emissions, but the budget is silent on what Obama will do to aggressively reduce carbon pollution by the biggest emitters, like power plants and automobiles.” —Ryan Lizza
To read Lizza’s original article, click on the following hyperlinked title. Alternatively, a slightly abridged version is reprinted below.
And don’t miss the SEE ALSO link at the bottom, which features budget highlights of Obama’s two new energy goals. Read the budget highlights and then decide for yourself whether or not Lizza’s contention that Obama has given up on climate change is justified.
New budget represents “a major dodge on climate change”
The budget released this week by the White House is by far Obama’s most ambitious statement of his legislative priorities since 2009, when, as a newly elected President, he produced a plan brimming over with initiatives like Obamacare, education reform, new spending to aid the depressed economy, and a cap-and-trade régime to curb carbon pollution. Obama’s 2009 budget presaged two years in office that were so legislatively far-reaching that, in Washington policy circles, the document was sometimes called the Big Bang.
This new budget approaches the ambitions of 2009—with one glaring omission. … [Obama’s FY 2014 budget], the second Big Bang, also represents a major dodge on climate change. Over the last two years, Obama has consistently talked about his second term as the time when he would forcefully confront the challenges of a warming planet. As I reported last year, in private conversations he has told people that dealing with climate change is one of the few ways that he believes he could fundamentally improve the world decades after he’s gone from office.
Obama’s glittering but empty rhetoric and promised action
In his three most important speeches of the last year, he promised to confront this threat.
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.
Indeed, he called on Congress to enact a comprehensive plan. The phrase “cap and trade” has become politically poisonous since the death of Obama’s own legislation, in 2010, but there was no mistaking what he meant. Obama demanded a “bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago.”
Phrase “climate change” appears 29 times but no reference to cutting CO2 emissions by biggest polluters
But the budget released this week makes it clear that Obama’s surprising appeal to Congress was an empty piece of rhetoric. The phrase “climate change” appears twenty-nine times in the new budget, but there is no new plan for Congress to take up in Obama’s otherwise ambitious legislative blueprint. There are some worthy energy initiatives that could achieve modest reductions in emissions, but the budget is silent on what Obama will do to aggressively reduce carbon pollution by the biggest emitters, like power plants and automobiles.
Obama has the authority to reduce carbon emissions, but he hasn’t acted on ultimatums, and his new budget cuts EPA funding
It is not as if Obama doesn’t have the power to act. On many issues the President is at the mercy of Congress. He can’t reform gun laws or the immigration system, or rewrite the tax code, without cooperation from the House and Senate. Climate change is different. Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency, backed by the force of a Supreme Court ruling, has the authority to reduce carbon pollution through regulation. In 2010, when White House negotiators were trying to pass cap and trade, they presented reluctant senators with a promise (some called it a threat): pass a comprehensive bill to deal with the problem or the E.P.A. would move forward on its own. Three years later, the Administration has still not acted on that ultimatum. And, ominously for those who care about tackling climate change, Obama’s new budget proposes to reduce funding for the E.P.A. by 3.5 per cent compared to the current year.
In his State of the Union, Obama renewed his 2010 threat. “If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations,” he said, “I will.”
Nothing in his new budget follows through on that promise. And if that doesn’t, what will?
Ryan Lizza is The New Yorker’s Washington correspondent. He covers the 2012 Presidential campaign and national politics.