New York Gov. David Paterson (D) today said that he plans to re-introduce legislation making same-sex marriage legal in the state. “We’ll put a bill out and let the people decide one way or the other,” Paterson told WHCU-AM in Ithaca. In 2007, then-governor Eliot Spitzer introduced similar legislation, but it stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. The state Senate is now controlled by Democrats but “still appears a few votes shy from having the 32 votes needed for passage.” New York state currently recognizes same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.
Climate Progress is launching a new feature today. With the help of Center for American Progress staffers, we’ll post links to some of the top energy and global warming stories of the day, with a short summary. So if you only have a couple of minutes to check the blog, you’ll still be able to get a quick survey of the day’s news. And it will help me feel better about not writing about every lost drop of the open fire hydrant of energy and climate news coming out every day. And yes, we will generally be doing this much earlier in the day! Comments welcome.
When Oceans Get Warmer Carbon Dioxide Uptake On Marine Plankton Will Be Reduced, Potentially Increasing Climate Change
The ocean plays a central role in Earth’s climate system and has considerably slowed down climate change by taking up about one third of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted through human activities. But that is likely to change in the future, as an experiment that warmed up plankton found. “What came as a surprise to us was that the plankton consumed up to one third less CO2 at elevated temperatures. Ultimately, this may cause a weakening of the biological carbon pump”, says Prof. Ulf Riebesell from IFM-GEOMAR, the principal investigator of the study.
On his Fox News show today, Neil Cavuto joined the rest of Fox News in promoting the radical anti-Obama “tea party” protests, one of which he will be attending and broadcasting from next week. Arguing with radio show host Leslie Marshall, Cavuto claimed that the protests were “a popular wave” sweeping across the country. Watch it:
But Cavuto’s claim ignores a Fox News poll released last week, which found that only 36 percent of Americans said they would “be willing to join” a “tea party” protest.
One of the problems facing opponents of marriage equality is that it’s not as if straight people are being asked to give anything up when gay and lesbian couples want to get married. The lives of heterosexuals will just continue as before. The National Organization for Marriage, however, is ready to try to mobilize people into a state of inchoate fear with this ad designed to make you think that gay marriage is an urgent threat to your liberty:
The closest thing to a legitimate issue here seems to have to do with the Massachusetts public schools. Clearly, a state adopting a non-discriminatory marriage policy doesn’t actually force the state to teach non-discriminatory values in schools. But the two tend to go together. We not only don’t have Jim Crow anymore, but we teach people that racism is wrong. This is, it’s true, a big imposition on racists. And people who don’t like gay people can be legitimately concerned that the spread of gay equality will create an environment in which their children are less likely to share their own prejudices.
On the other hand, that’s all pretty tautological. But what’s the deal with the woman who says “I’m a California doctor forced to choose between my faith and my job”? What is it she wants to do? Does her faith prohibit her from giving medical care to gays and lesbians? That sounds like a pretty sick faith. And a clear violation of existing medical ethics anyway.
Apparently the White House is considering caving on the principle that carbon permits should be auctioned rather than given away. Given the political realities, I’m hardly shocked to see that compromise is in the air. But this, it should be said, is a really crappy compromise. The key thing to recall when this is described as a more “moderate” position is that you need to understand what the real consequences are. For that, you need to turn to this CBO analysis of the distributional consequences of some different options. Auctioning the permits and rebating the money is on the left, giving the permits away is on the right:
In terms of environmental goals, the giveaway plan can be made to work (it can also be riddled with loopholes and rendered unworkable, but that’s a separate debate). It, however, actually does have the negative consequences often ascribed to any serious carbon policy—it’s bad for the economic interests of the poorest 80 percent of Americans. Auctioning the permits and rebating the money, by contrast, is good for economically vulnerable Americans.
And note that there’s no advantage to the giveaway approach in terms of short-term economic growth. Either way, there’s a modest short-term macroeconomic cost in exchange for a long-term gain of a sustainable climate. The choice is between different ways of allocating the cost—you could make polluters and the wealthy pay, or you could make the vast majority of us pay.
Last week, 10 Democrats in the Senate joined all 41 Republicans in voting for a $250 billion proposal to cut estate taxes, designed by Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ). More than 99 percent of this cost would go to the inheritors of estates worth over $7 million. Touting the tax cut in a press release, Lincoln claimed that it was “aimed at farms and small businesses.” However, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, Lincoln’s $250 billion proposal would save just 60 small businesses or farms from the estate tax:
An always charged issue is how the estate tax affects small farms and family-owned businesses. We estimate that under the Obama proposal, 100 family farms and businesses would owe tax…The Lincoln-Kyl proposal would cut the number to 40.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, “almost all such estates are able to pay the tax bill without having to sell business assets.”
As corporate lobbyists and conservative politicians strive to maintain a pollution-based economy, a new progressive alliance has formed to fight back. The Climate Equity Alliance is calling for policies to ensure that energy legislation reaches President Obama’s desk benefiting people instead of polluters. The green economy legislation introduced in draft form by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) — sets national standards for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and global warming pollution — but leaves open whether polluters will be subsidized to achieve those standards.
Today, more than two dozen organizations from the research, advocacy, faith-based, labor and civil rights communities came together as the Climate Equity Alliance. Alliance members include the Center for American Progress, Green for All, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the Service Employees International Union. Their principles recognize that clean energy legislation needs to be sustainable, honest, and fair:
– Protect people and the planet: Limit carbon emissions at a level and timeline that science dictates.
– Maximize the gain: Build an inclusive green economy providing pathways into prosperity and expanding opportunity for America’s workers and communities.
– Minimize the pain: Assist low and moderate income families in meeting their basic needs.
– Shore up resilience to climate impacts: Assure that those who are most vulnerable to the direct effects of climate change are able to prepare and adapt.
– Ease the transition: Address the impacts of economic change for workers and communities.
– Put a price on global warming pollution and invest in solutions: Capture the value of carbon emissions for public purposes and invest this resource in an equitable transition to a clean energy economy.
The Climate Equity Alliance’s recognition that attention needs to be paid to global boiling impacts is critical, as every state in the nation already suffers from major climate-related costs — costs which will continue to rise as the planet heats up. The full list of members is below.
The alliance specifically calls for “public and private investments that help rebuild and retrofit our nation,” “training and job readiness programs,” “direct consumer rebates” to low- and moderate-income households, “assistance and tools” for workers in carbon-intense industries, and the use of carbon price revenues to invest in the public good, instead of “windfall profits for corporations.” Read more
This came up at yesterday’s transportation panel and the point is worth making on the blog. Whatever you think about the likely medium-term outlook for the economy and whatever you think about the future of transportation policy in the United States, the market for new auto sales is definitely going to perk up sometime reasonably soon. To see why, look at this chart Calculated Risk posted a couple of weeks ago showing how long it would take the current fleet to turn over at the current rate of sales:
This chart is produced by taking the total number of registered vehicles in the U.S. divided by the sales rate. The numbers we’re at right now are not only way out of line with trends, but they’re way out of lines with the basic realities of American life. People’s vehicles aren’t going to last forever, and for the majority of people the inconvenience of carlessness is going to outweigh their recession-driven desire to reduce spending. Note that the US population continues to grow, making this look even less sustainable.
Next week on Tax Day (April 15), right wing activists will converge in cities across the country to protest President Obama. The primary figures organizing the protests, the lobbyist-run think tank Freedom Works and bloggers such as Michelle Malkin, say they are reacting to taxes that are “too high.” However, previous tea party protests have attracted protesters who called for impeaching Obama while slurring the President’s name as “Obama Bin Lyin.”
Congressional Republicans have enthusiastically embraced the movement, with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) sponsoring a bill to honor the protests. So far, at least 11 Republican lawmakers and governors have signed on to speak at local events:
– Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) will be speaking at the Salt Lake City protest.
– Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) and a representative from Rep. Sam Graves’ (R-MO) office will be speaking at the Overland Park protest.
– Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) will be speaking at the Shreveport protest.
– Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) will be speaking at the Jacksonville protest.
– Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) will be speaking at the Wauseon protest.
– Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) and former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) will be speaking at the Phoenix protest.
– Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) will be speaking at the Charlotte protest.
– Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) will be speaking at the Brevard protest.
– Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) will be speaking at the Longview protest.
– Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) will be speaking at the protest in Columbia.
J Street did a video attacking neo-fascist Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and those American Jewish groups who’ve decided to sell their principles out and become Lieberman apologists. James Besser has a worthwhile article touching on this incident and the entire Lieberman issue that includes this bizarre argument:
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project, conceded that Lieberman, dramatically different from the suave, Americanized Netanyahu, is a lightning rod for many American Jews.
“Different can be scary,” said Laszlo Mizrahi, whose group works with media to present Israel favorably. “There were people who thought Barack Hussein Obama was scary because of his middle name.”
This is true. There were people who thought Barack Hussein Obama was scary because of his middle name. And there are also people who think Lieberman is scary because of his repudiation of the Annapolis process, his hostility to equal rights for minority populations in Israel, for his racist campaign tactics, and for his apparent criminal conduct. It’s not entirely clear, however, what the analogy between the two situations is.