The prospects for climate legislation seem so grim that few Democrats even talk about bringing a bill to the floor these days.
But Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat and self-described “climate hawk,” has a theory about why the political calculus will change in the not-too-distant future.
He sees a window opening in 2015 or 2016 to move a bill that sets fees on carbon emissions, and he offered a political road map on Wednesday night.
“I am very confident that we can win a lot sooner than people think,” Whitehouse said on a troop-rallying call with activists hosted by Organizing for Action, the advocacy group that sprang from President Obama’s reelection campaign.
Whitehouse is offering a contrarian view. Cap-and-trade legislation collapsed in the Senate in 2010, and big climate proposals have been in a deep freeze ever since.
So why is he optimistic that a big vote swing is possible? One reason is the Environmental Protection Agency’s looming carbon-emissions regulations for power plants.
“When those big power plants are going to face serious EPA regulation, for their owners, suddenly, yeah, maybe a carbon fee doesn’t look like such a bad deal,” Whitehouse said.
He believes various other pieces are falling into place that, combined with a sustained push from activists, could make legislation a reality.
Those pieces, he said on the call, include more big corporations coming around on climate and stepped-up political work by groups like the League of Conservation Voters.
Whitehouse also argues that public opinion — including among young Republicans — is shifting fast enough that the GOP can’t possibly field a climate “denier” as their 2016 presidential candidate.
That means congressional Republicans will move toward the center to provide cover for their standard-bearer, theorizes Whitehouse, who is part of a new coalition of Senate Democrats trying to play offense on climate change.
“Put all of those things together, and I think we have a real chance to have a good carbon bill come through Congress after this [midterm] election and before the presidential [election], in 2015 or 2016,” Whitehouse told the Organizing for Action activists on Wednesday’s call.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."