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New Yorker: ‘Has Obama Already Given Up On Climate Change?’

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"New Yorker: ‘Has Obama Already Given Up On Climate Change?’"

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The New Yorker examines the President’s latest budget and find it “represents a major dodge on climate change.” Hence columnist Ryan Lizza poses the headline question, “Has Obama already given up on climate change?”

Sure Obama has been talking a good game on climate in the second inaugural address and State of the Union:

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.

If rhetoric cut emissions, we’d be carbon free already. But only action does.

Still, it is not as if Obama has the power to act:

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 coöperation 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.

Oh, well, it’s not as if team Obama is delaying action:

The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that it would delay issuance of a new rule limiting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from new power plants after the electric power industry objected on legal and technical grounds…

“We are continuing to work on the rule,” said Alisha Johnson, the E.P.A. press secretary. “No timetable has been set.”

No worries. It’s not like we’re in a hurry or anything (see Study: We’re Headed To 11°F Warming And Even 7°F Requires ‘Nearly Quadrupling The Current Rate Of Decarbonisation’). It’s not like inaction is incredibly costly (see IEA warns, “The world will have to spend an extra $500 billion to cut carbon emissions for each year it delays implementing a major assault on global warming”).

It’s not like delaying the rule for limiting emissions from new power plants delays the far more important rule for limiting emissions for existing power plants. Okay, well, it is like that, but it isn’t like Obama told the nation in February “If Congress Won’t Act Soon To Protect Future Generations, I Will.” The New Yorker also cites that remark and concludes:

Nothing in his new budget follows through on that promise. And if that doesn’t, what will?

Hakuna matata.

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88 Responses to New Yorker: ‘Has Obama Already Given Up On Climate Change?’

  1. paul magnus says:

    “Still, it is not as if Obama has the power to act:”

    He could if he declared a state of emergency.

    I wonder at what point will extreme climate impact reach a level where this will occur.

    I think we are not as far off as we think… If the trend of the last couple of years persists…

    • Endofmore says:

      and exactly what would a state of emergency achieve?
      elaborate please.

      • Roger Lambert says:

        It would mean that he would have more flexibility and precedent to enact Presidential directives and designate monies.

      • Mark E says:

        Executive Order #1)

        Instant freeze on all new public lands and offshore leasing for fossil fuel exploration & development

        Executive Order #2)

        No HUD/FEMA mortgages to be issued on homes that fail an energy conservation inspection; Also, even if they pass the inspection no HUD/FEMA mortgages to be issued based on appraissals that do not factor in the realistic price of energy over the life of the loan.

        Executive Order #3)

        Train the underemployed as Deep-Energy Retrofit personnel, and turn ‘em loose in town across America. Cheaper than simply giving out aide.

        Next?

        • Endofmore says:

          Mark E

          The Apollo program is a blind alley in terms of human endeavour, though many in government and science point to it as an example of what man is capable of.
          Which is of course true.
          But any journey where you only bring back souvenirs and photographs is called a vacation.
          Others point to the effort expended to win WW2,
          or the first solo flight across the Atlantic
          or the wright brothers
          I could go on, but you get the drift.
          Clever stuff, but all those had a common thread, without which none of them would have been possible
          That is exploding chemicals.
          The Wright brothers and the Apollo program both used the same propulsive force to get clear of gravity. More complex technology obviously, but the same force
          Humanity in general has used the same forces to grow food, expand population and burn yet more fuel to overheat the planet, which is where we are right now
          we need those energy forces to sustain our infrastructure, Without that our lifestyle falls apart, and no ‘emergency measures’ are going to stop that
          ‘growth addiction’ means fuelburning and that is what keeps everybody employed. You cannot make anything without heat input
          our ‘economy’ is like riding a bike, stop and you fall off.
          unfortunately we are all addicted to wheels

        • Jan Freed says:

          NEXT? Let the Joint Chiefs of Staff reiterate that AGW is our greatest threat to national security.

          Based on that, spend a sizable portion of the defense budget setting up wind/solar farms to avert the worst consequences.

          How? Did WWII procurement officers/procedures wait for the “free market” to choose the best warplanes, tanks and ships? NO. So, let the bidding commence!

          Tell the timid souls among us: No three countries could match even half our current navy/air supremacy, so don’t crucify our planet on more and more traditional war materials, our iron cross (as Ike called it)

      • Francois T says:

        Does everyone has to explain to you what life is about?

    • Paul Magnus says:

      I would achieve some clarity… for that is what were in.

      • Paul Magnus says:

        For one, it would achieve some clarity and acceptance of reality… for that is what were in.

        • Endofmore says:

          Having read various responses to my enquiry about what a state of emergency would achieve, I feel it is time to pitch in a few suggestions of my own now…
          first, we are looking at climate change in isolation—like always, when in fact we are faced with climate change, overpopulation and energy depletion more or less at the same time.
          whichever hits first will exacerbate the other two
          Berating Obama for not declaring a ‘state of emergency’ reveals the truth, that most people are afflicted with their own version of tunnel vision. Obama isnt stupid, this isnt a problem that can be fixed by politicians. Neither can it be fixed by insulating homes and turning down thermostats.
          There are just too many of us.
          The USA is going to get 120m new mouths to feed in the next 40 years, already 14% are on food aid–who is going to feed them? Prayer farms?
          a state of emergency wont gropw more food, or pump more oil.
          and even if it could, the extra food/oil would give everyone a few more years of false security while more people had more babies.
          so declare a state of emergency that stops babies being born—another form of insanity, it can’t be done.
          so we go on multiplying and expecting politicians to deliver miracles just because they were voted into office.
          Again, it cant be done.
          our overbreeding is going to stop, and voting for presidents of any colour isnt going to change that.
          it is going to be unpleasant, I suggest we get used to that idea.

          • Mark E says:

            Although I might dream of Obama tackling growth addiction head-on, that ain’t gonna happen. No one is even talking about it yet!

            Obama is a smart guy, and knows that solving massive problems means…. taking the first steps. You are awfully quick to diss my list of instant-executive orders.

            Note that Apollo 11 didn’t just land on the moon. Apollo 10 first orbited the moon. Long before that, the prez set the nation’s sights on that target, and that rousing speech is part of our cultural mythos.

            Where o Where o Where’s Obama?
            Where o Where o Where’s Obama?
            Where o Where o Where’s Obama?
            Way down yonder in do-nothing land!

          • Dion says:

            Problem is, you mention population control to the right they think you are the satanic abortionist from hell, or hate Catholicism, or don’t want to be fruitful and multiply. Mention it to the left, and your a racist because the burgeoning populations are in the “developing” world.
            Of course, that’s not everybody on the ideological spectrum, but its a majority. Nobody talks about it anymore…

  2. llewelly says:

    uh, ‘already’ ? Obama gave up on making /congress/ do anything years ago. Almost certainly before the affordable care act passed. In other places, where Obama has direct official control over purchasing and funding, he has made steps in the right direction – but they have always been small, and always limited to areas of total control. Whoever wrote the headline is years behind the curve. I suppose it’s significant that his budget proposal does not contain any placating gestures about climate, but, really, who is still fooled by such gestures? Other than the headline writer, that is.

    • Superman1 says:

      “Has Obama Already Given Up On Climate Change?” There’s an implied assumption that he was once interested. Wishful thinking!

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      It took five years for this ‘scoop’ to penetrate the obdurate skull of the New Yorker hack. Not bad. Of course, at Fox Noise and the other outlets of the Murdoch Sewer Empire, the cranial carapaces are thicker yet-so dense that there is no room left for brains. Weird..or what?

  3. Obama seems to be waiting for the poll numbers to push him out in front of the issue, just the way he “evolved” his position on gay marriage.

    Delay–allowing time and generational change to do its work–was a good strategy for gay marriage; it avoided a backlash that could have crippled the movement and had bad fallout for other issues.

    Climate change is different in scale and character. It involves the survival of Western civilization and of whole species, of which one could be humans, in the most extreme scenario.

    Above all, rope-a-dope, trying to wait for the populous to slowly “acclimate” to the idea that climate change is an emergency, is as preposterous as it sounds, and profoundly unfair. Outside of people on websites like this, few recognize the urgency. It’s too abstract.

    I’m looking out my window. It’s a glorious spring day. That climate disruption could be imminent and alter the weather of the entire planet forever appears deeply counterfactual. It just doesn’t seem possible.

    But Obama must know. The CIA and the Pentagon must have done some scenario analysis. I’m hard-pressed to believe there isn’t some contingency plan for that coming summer the ice disappears and the jet stream does the Superstorm Sandy Meander for months on end, resulting in a massive crop failure.

    Obama, or someone in leadership, has to create the awareness, not passively wait for it. I grant that this is an almost impossible task. The challenge is bringing the vested interests and the deniers on board, or getting around them, or neutralizing their resistance. But he is the leader, not the manager. He has to help figure out a way to lead.

    That’s our task: to think of ways to pre-empt the backlash or counteract it, and pass those ideas up.

    McKibben is taking the civil disobedience route. That’s good.

    I think small sit-downs with the CIA or the Pentagon, a key scientist or two, and the deniers is a possibility.

    Others?

    • Mike Roddy says:

      It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the climate tribes can be managed, and effectively ignored. The media could awaken the people here, but they’re bought, too.

      We need climate warriors, not supplicants.

      • Actually that is how we will know of the escalation. Because climate change calamities can only be controlled if they are ignored and relabeled as weather events. So the next Frankenstorm like Sandy will be a freak storm, and in 6 months, everyone will forget. This will buy them a few more years. Enough to plunder more from selling carbon fuel.

        Media will stay the same, even tighten up. Already the stories on US based web sites differs greatly from European sites. Mostly video. Expect to see more difference No need to control text, cause nobody reads it. Just video.

    • Superman1 says:

      “But Obama must know. The CIA and the Pentagon must have done some scenario analysis.” My guess is that they’ve done/are doing far more than ‘some’. The fact that we have heard nothing from them is extremely ominous, in my opinion.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        I agree. That silence, of the wolves, is one of the reasons I think that the power elite are allowing this crisis to occur. Of course one must then wonder why, as it is plain that climate destabilisation and ocean acidification will be impossible to ‘ride out’, but perhaps they are just insane.

        • Superman1 says:

          I don’t buy the ‘insane’ explanation. Whenever I see a scenario that appears completely irrational, and our response to climate change fits that model, I ask myself ‘what is the scenario that would make these chaotic events appear rational’. What would your ‘rational’ scenario be?

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

            That the ruling global elites, who we know have long discussed and planned global population reduction, have decided on a Malthusian option, driven by ecological collapse, to be rid of the billions of ‘useless eaters’ that they fear and despise.

    • Ernest says:

      Yup. My thoughts exactly. Like immigration, gun control, gay marriage, he’s waiting for the “political stars to be aligned”. I never got the impression that he is an out in front leader. Even his earlier background as a “community organizer”, “mediator”, “conciliator” suggests he prefers to take the middle road on all sides of most issues and bring all sides together. “Given up” is too strong a pronouncement. But we need to keep the pressure up, such as with 350.org since this is what he responds to.

    • Brian R Smith says:

      Yes,we cannot afford spending what little time there is left trying to squeeze a flush out of stacked political deck. We don’t have to wait for the KXL decision to know that Obama is not an honest dealer.

      Define it as you like, the climate movement has no publicly recognized leadership or credible authority. Incremental direct actions don’t suffice. Big green organizations pursuing independent campaigns has not been effective.

      The most effective move to clarify the issues for the public and take Obama to task for his undermining inaction, IMHO, is for a broad alliance of leading organizations to facilitate a major, all-media State of the Climate address to the nation by climate scientists…supported by leaders in policy, business & finance, the military, mayors, congress, communities and all the other stakeholders whose voices need to be heard.

      Such a bold move to take control of public discourse might light up Obama’s imagination about what’s possible to do politically, but the main objective would be to step around his prevarications (and the lies form industry) and deliver the truth to the public, to the voters.

      This would require a grand alliance, inspired collaboration, and, importantly, a convening organization. It would mark a serious willingness –outside of government– to defend the science and the urgency to act. It would make it impossible for the MSM to avoid it’s obligation to front-page the issues.

      The President is actually, willfully acting against climate progress. We lead or we fail.

  4. Leif says:

    It looks like the already current majority is once again getting the brown end of the stick. Does not bode well in a presumable democracy IMO.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      No capitalist economy is, has ever been or can ever be, a ‘democracy’ in other than sham form. A law of nature as ineluctable as gravity or entropy.

  5. Mike Roddy says:

    Obama seems to think he was doing us climate people a big favor by talking about it in his SOU address. We’re now back where we started.

    There have been many indicators in the last four years that the transition from W Bush was seamless.

    Now, he’s a lame duck, and could easily effect the “change” he mouthed so much to great applause in 2008. The explanation that makes the most sense comes from left wing paranoia: No presidential candidate will get campaign funding unless he promises to play ball with the oil companies and the 1%, especially the bankers.

    The best explanation apart from Obama the marionette is that he fears the capital destruction of rapid phasing out of fossil fuels. This will have to happen anyway, and the sooner the better. Capital destruction is nothing compared to environmental and climate destruction, and in this case will lead to cleaner, more efficient, and more labor intensive capital. That’s what the big boys don’t want.

    • I don’t think that assuming Obama (or any other pol) fears defunding is a paranoid thought. Seems pretty straightforward: effectively threaten to defund the powerful first by destroying their capital, and they do what all threatened entities do–fight.

      Defunding a campaign for office falls squarely within the democratic process, however distorted it is now by the sheer amount of money.

      If we want to risk being called paranoid, we can speculate about the role “conservative” attitudes and “values” play in this situation, and the virulent hostility toward the federal government they breed.

      That set of attitudes gave us the Civil War and then survived it. States’ rights is still as it has ever been: a sanctimonious excuse to tell people to butt out while one group exercises power over others. Personal “freedom” is the freedom to dominate. There’s a beief that God ordained the existing social structure, and religion is used to justify all kinds of Old Testament, white, patriarchal entitlement and control.

      The Old Testament justified slavery; glorified war and personal violence; put forward the idea of a chosen people, sanctioned to kill heathens and violators of God’s order; sanctified eye-for-an-eye justice; glorified hierarchy and blind obedience.

      So now we look at the Second Amendment and the idea that it was instituted as a safeguard against “tyranny.”

      How would the president bypassing Congress to impose regulations that permanently diminish the oil and coal industries, which just happen to be located largely in Appalachia and around the Gulf of Mexico, not look like the very “tyranny” they speak of?

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      That is Plan Obama. Talk a great talk, lots of noble rhetoric, head held slightly to one side, looking aloft, at the peroration, as if receiving Divine Wisdom, Guidance and Blessing all at once. Or perhaps, given Obama’s prodigious self-regard, exchanging such gifts with the All High. Then, back to mundane reality, and there are Hope Fiends to be disappointed, yet again, also integral to the Plan. Suddenly all the lofty words and thoughts evaporate as a mist of forgotten dreams under the cruel sun of obligation, the duty that every puppet owes his puppeteers, who, if he turns out a naughty marionette, can cut his strings as swiftly and unflinchingly as the Moirae.

  6. Jake says:

    Hey Prez, are those solar panels on the White House yet? Have you even picked a company to provide them?

    No?

    • Paul Klinkman says:

      The old solar panels that were yanked off of the White House roof by Ronald Reagan are still around. The college that now owns them would be glad to donate them back to the White House.

    • pyeatte says:

      Solar cells on top of the White House would probably be the most meaningless gesture possible. It would be the ultimate sign of weakness – that is why they are not there.

  7. BobbyL says:

    The point of the budget was to include compromises so that an agreement could eventually be reached with Republicans. That’s why he includes cuts to social security and Medicare. Going all out on climate change would have undermined Obama’s strategy. I guess the question is: Why are we even still hoping the US government is going to do something?

  8. BBHY says:

    I gave up on Obama in 2010.

    We can and will move forward without his help. He might eventually catch up, or maybe not.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      No. Pretty soon he starts actively getting in the way. All in Plan Obama.

      • J4Zonian says:

        And he does that by ruling out all options that might be considered victory, before the fight even starts, and then surrendering to the Republicans at the first sign of any second-rate success.

  9. Ken Barrows says:

    As Mr. Obama presides over the most rapid upward redistribution of wealth (QE to the n) in US history, so he presides over climate inaction as the Arctic summer ice disappears. What a legacy!

  10. Elizabeth Woodworth says:

    We simply cannot go on with “business as usual,” and now is the time to transition to clean energy innovation and jobs. This means moving the subsidies from fossil fuels in this new direction.

    For a well-informed layman’s short course on how best to address global warming, see the excellent PowerPoint presentations by award-winning scientist, Prof. Emeritus Dr. Eric Grimsrud, at http://ericgrimsrud.com/short-course_281.html

    @Abettervision

  11. Mimikatz says:

    How does he face his children? Surely they teach about climate change at a fancy school like Sidwell Friends. I think they even have energy and environment-saving projects. How does he face them in light of the future that his own agencies predict?

    • Superman1 says:

      “How does he face his children?” And, how do the GOP leaders in Congress face their grandchildren? I don’t buy the crass political explanations at the expense of close family. The only scenario that makes any sense to me is that they have been informed by the CIA and Pentagon that we have gone over the climate cliff, and it is beyond repair, so action would be meaningless.

      • Raul M. says:

        The White House has the bestest storm shelter. And the new Presidental Library will probable have the second bestest storm shelter for if some weather event happens while they are looking at the postage stamps used on the letters from the scientists.

  12. Coilin MacLochlainn says:

    Joe, – What’s clearly happening here is that Obama, or the White House, is softening up the public for a major let-down. Instead of coming out straight and telling us that he’s not going to do anything for climate change, he’s trying to lower our expectations in advance so that we don’t feel too let down when he eventually tells us he has nothing, he’s got nothing, he’s a tool of the fossil fuel empire and he won’t speak unless they tell him what to say.

    This is not the Obama that America voted into office, but it’s increasingly apparent that it’s the Obama that America is learning more terrible things about every day. He appears unable to grasp the nettle and do things within his power, regardless of Congress, to help save humanity from total oblivion within a couple of centuries. If he wanted to, he could act, but it looks like he’s just not prepared to do anything meaningful. If this goes on, he will go down in history as the worst president the United States of America ever had.

    I watch him closely and all I see is an idiot actor delivering his lines with absolutely no conviction, no interest in the outcome, like a ventriloquist’s dummy. It is pathetic, and scary too, because action on climate is so incredibly important now, we are heading fast into the abyss from where there is no return. Why doesn’t he do something? Doesn’t he want to be remembered for being good, honest, principled, magnificent? Or is he happy to settle for the big payout when he goes off into retirement, never to be mentioned again in polite company and written out of the history books as a complete and total failure, the worst president the US has ever known? Those are his choices, and it looks like he’s picking the worst of them, damning himself and his beautiful wife and family to bad press for the rest of their sorry wasted lives.

    Coilin MacLochlainn

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Well said, but total oblivion is not centuries away-it is mere decades away.

      • pyeatte says:

        We have been hearing the same thing for decades, and it has not panned out for a reason.
        “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”
        -Richard Feynman-

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

          Sorry pyeatte, but if you are ignorant of the rapid collapses in so many biospheres, the rapid destabilisation of the global climate, the rapid acidification of the oceans, the spread of anoxic ‘dead-zones’, the biodiversity crisis that represents a sixth great extinction event, the general toxification of the planet through multiple pollution crises etc, then you are really a bit too ignorant to be making pompous pronouncements, and you are definitely not fit to abuse Feynman’s reputation by using one of his quotes, out of context, to promote your silly denialism.

    • Obama may be just plain scared, fearing violence if he steps out too far, and thinking it would make no difference, because things are too far gone.

      So, he may think, why accelerate the crisis? Why appear to precipitate chaos, when nature will deliver the chaos soon enough? At least, with time, he can hope for a miracle.

      I don’t think he’s in the pocket of the vested interests. He can’t figure a way to outmaneuver them without triggering the very social crisis he might hope to prevent.

      • You could be right. I don’t think of Obama as an evil establishment puppet. However, I do think of him as vetted in some sense — by the Powers That Be at Harvard, if nowhere else. Certainly no one will be able to muster the financial support to win the presidency who really wants to take on the oil companies, insurance companies and so on. If such a candidate did arise, and was actually closing in on the presidency, it is doubtful he/she would live long.

        Also, in fairness to Obama, you have to realize that even most climate scientists still don’t “get it” when they talk about the climate crisis. Most are still referring to 2ºC as some kind of realistic target, even though it’s pretty clear, especially after the big Arctic meltdown, that a rise of even one degree is two high.

        But Obama wouldn’t necessarily know that. Less than a year ago, most observers figured we had a decade or two to get our act together to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Little half steps such as the auto fleet fuel standards would be enacted in time to make a difference. Very few foresaw that we were already at the brink, and certainly no one has told Obama.

        So rather than thinking of him as just another corporate shill like Inhofe, I think of him as just another fool in the hill. After he leaves office, he’ll watch things fall apart and ask why his advisors didn’t tell him to take meaningful action when there still might have been time for it to make any difference.

        • Sasparilla says:

          You could be very right Philip, but there’s a problem with the “he hasn’t been told” theory – his science advisor (Holdren) knows the score intimately (he was sounding the alarm about the arctic ice cap melting out early before the first election way back when) – commented about it publicly.

        • Raul M. says:

          Also there are the experts with world backing that wondered if they would be allowed to just leave the US after being so bold as to say the current state of feedback mechanisms within the US at the White House. They at first thought to be so bold as to tell the truth to all of the audience. Just looking at probable scenario.

      • skyman says:

        From a psychological perspective this makes the most sense to me.
        The idea that we can make a difference on the future is admirable, however, many of us are becoming more and more fatalist – as Joe would say – as business as usual trucks on.

      • Superman1 says:

        We’re working with very little info. My guess is that the people who have some real data, such as the CIA and the Pentagon, have told him what you have suggested: we are over the cliff. If, in fact, that is the case, what’s the point of stirring the pot? How can we get our hands on what the real experts know?

        • Sasparilla says:

          Very true Superman1. It would seem the climate scientists are the experts on the climate – but within the administration and those other areas of government you highlight, there’s no information.

          Hopefully we’ll find out after 2016…just for the record if nothing else.

          I have often wondered if (another theory) he was told shortly after getting into office that despite the new oil shale production tech, world oil production will start declining within a decade (possibly rapidly) devastating the economy, our battery tech isn’t ready for a conversion to plugins at this point – so he pitches climate change over the side and goes for all in energy policy with as much local oil production as possible (approved first tar sands in 2009) and natural gas while tightening mpg ratings ect,.

  13. Matt Owens at Fairfax Climate Watch has a petition with the White House to get Obama to address climate change.

    http://climatewatch.typepad.com/blog/2013/04/a-national-address-of-critical-urgency-on-climate-change.html

  14. Jan says:

    You can’t give up on something you never really intended to address in the first place. Civil disobedience is the only recourse now.

    • BobbyL says:

      And when that fails?

      • Sasparilla says:

        Faith that Mother Nature will get the general population ever more tuned in to the necessity and immediacy needed to act on climate change, bringing about success (in time is another question) with this last lever to force action on climate change.

        It’s all we’ve got at this point, so we have to make it work.

  15. yphilj says:

    From the National Community Action Foundation:

    Three years ago, the Administration was pushing for $6.5 billion in funding for weatherization. The program was a poster child for the green economy, a shining example of a career path for entering into the field of energy efficiency, energy conservation, and healthy communities. Congress settled on $5 billion funding for the program. Despite early hurdles the Weatherization network, primarily Community Action Agencies, met most of the goals of the program. To repay these efforts, the Administration requested $135 million in their FY 2013 budget.

    This year, the Budget provides $184 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program. Although this figure is 20% lower than 2008, WAP funding, the year before ARRA [Recovery Act].

  16. Bob Geiger says:

    I don’t know about the New Yorker piece, but this post fails to lay out what one might have expected or hoped for of significance in the budget. I agree that the EPA reductions are a bad thing. But the real issues that Obama has control over are Keystone and the regulation of existing power plants. Does this budget affect those? If so, how?

    • Merrelyn Emery says:

      Is it even relevant whether the President writes a budget or not? ME

      • Yes. According to the U.S. Constitution, the President must submit a budget to Congress every year, and that is the official budget that is debated and voted on. Paul Ryan’s budget is just a proposal — it has no legal status, though aspects of it can be offered as amendments to the President’s “official” budget.

        • Merrelyn Emery says:

          Thanks Philip, ME

          • Merrelyn Emery says:

            For some unaccountable reason, probably pig ignorance, I had a vague idea it was the House, ME

          • You know, ME, maybe I’m wrong. I was thinking about this last night, after I posted my comment. I know the Constitution requires the President to give the State of the Union address, and I thought the budget was required as well. (The House generally finalizes and approves the budget.) I’ll check it out, and apologizes if my assumption, from high school civics 50 years ago, turns out the be wrong.

          • Sasparilla says:

            Phillip I think this is something that has changed in the last decades (since Nixon I believe).

            Previously the President would present the budget and then the House would work with and modify it. That was changed after the Watergate scandal I think.

            Now the President can present a budget, but the House can completely disregard it (as it normally does) and create their own from scratch. Probably not a good change in hindsight but it is the way it is now.

      • Ah, here’s the real answer: I was partly right, partly wrong. The President is required to present a budget, but not by the Constitution per se:

        (from http://www.answers.com/topic/does-the-constitution-mandate-a-federal-budget)

        Although the Constitution does not require the president to present an annual budget, in 1921 the Budget and Accounting Act became law and laid the foundation for the modern budget process, which includes the president’s budget. More recently, the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 established a timetable for the annual budget process, which is kicked off each year by the presidential budget submission. The Budget Act specifies that the president’s budget should be presented to Congress on or before the first Monday in February, which generally coincides with the timing of the president’s annual State of the Union Address.

        Additionally, the Constitution says this about the Bugget:

        All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

        So you were right about that, but the process has been modified to have the budget initiated by the executive.

        So who’s the Pig Ignorant American this time around?

        • Merrelyn Emery says:

          No worries mate and thanks. I know it was designed to be complicated and boy, did they do a good job, ME

  17. Lore says:

    President Obama remains perfectly mute on the subject in lieu of his announcement to approve the Keystone XL pipeline

  18. fj says:

    Just as with a declaration of war there will be no going back when the transition starts.

    And, nothing is too big to fail.

  19. BobbyL says:

    It’s better than the alternative, the Ryan budget. Can a compromise be reached so that the deficit is addressed? I think that is what this is about. Obama doesn’t like his own budget. Why would we like it? A budget we liked would be dead on arrival.

  20. Paul Klinkman says:

    So Obama is a deadbeat. Ignore him as best we can. Work for individual congressional candidates where it makes a difference. De-elect the know-nothings.

  21. J4Zonian says:

    This is a pretty common tactic for mainstream journalists: make some old story seem fresh by pretending nobody knew about it until they came up with the idea. I have the greatest respect for Bill Moyers but he used to pull this all the time on PBS: reporting stories Pacifica Radio had been reporting for a year, and others had sniffed out a year before that. It has to do with having different audiences. Mainstream America, meaning that part of North America owned by white people who aren’t Canadians, hasn’t got a clue. But you can’t tell it that; it just ticks people off.

    The only thing that surprises me is that even people here somehow hung onto the idea that Obama might do something liberal in any realm and at any time after his first week as a Senator.

    Of course the only answer is civil disobedience. That’s been clear since the first worst president in history, Bush the Lesser. (as opposed to our current president, Bush III, aka Herb, as Molly Ivins no doubt would call him if she were still around.)

  22. fj says:

    As recently posted on Climate Progress it is good that US companies representing nearly one-half $trillion in business understand the gravity of the situation.

    They seem to have a hint that in many instances they will have to make difficult decisions to cannibilize their markets to transition to industries that understand the life-and-death importance of working intimately with the natural world that supports us; and that we must partake the chaotic journey through undiscovered country driven by creative destruction to a place we as of yet we know not where.

    And, most likely we will still prevail.

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/04/11/1851271/nike-starbucks-intel-we-cannot-risk-our-kids-futures-on-the-false-hope-the-vast-majority-of-scientists-are-wrong/

  23. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Playing golf while the planet burns.

  24. jasonm11 says:

    Obama recognized the Climate Change scam long ago as did everyone that has one working brain cell. He moved on the gun control as it may be better to keep attention off of the most important thing that he is failing hugely – Economy and Foreign Policy.

    • Lore says:

      It’s kind of obvious by your post that you’re including yourself as a member of the one working brain cell group.

  25. Paul Magnus says:

    Obama is a woos.

  26. I feel the missing solar panels on the White House roof make a better and more important issue than they look at first sight. One, it’s a clear promise not kept. Two, carrying it out is undoubtedly within the President’s executive powers. Three, panels would a highly visible sign of commitment and a down payment on “If they won’t act, I will.”

    So let’s have a “raise that roof” campaign!

  27. Sasparilla says:

    Nice to see this question in Mainstream Media (to an extent), although it is about 4 years too late…since he unlocked the tar sands back in late spring of 2009. Excellent points made throughout Joe…I wish they couldn’t be made.

    The way forward, it would seem, is in spite of the administration as Bill McKibben as detailed – the Administration’s lack of progress on doing things they could easily do (whether its the truly easy solar panels on the White House, or the XL or the newly delayed EPA regulations or previously defanged or eliminated ones) and lack of communication to make this an issue “on the radar screen” is truly disgraceful, considering whats at stake.

  28. MarkF says:

    My advice to President Obama :

    1. Switch the Tuesday morning meetings with the “kill list” agenda, to some time other than Tuesday morning; Maybe once a month would be sufficient;

    2. Use Tuesday mornings to work on a new “kill CO2 emissions” list instead.

  29. fj says:

    Hopefully this critique of The President’s inaction will create the case that serious and urgent action on accelerating climate change is long overdue.

  30. Mike Robinson says:

    The Achilles heel of capitalism or corporate obstructionism, regardless of whether they have bought the government, is informed consumers boycotting products. That is seems to me is the only way forward. Even the most rapacious of shareholders will demand positive change if profits are disappearing.

  31. Dion says:

    Reality is not very kind to scripts; perhaps a wrench might be thrown into the gears of atmospheric apocalypse:

    1). Huge global depression brought about by Chinese real estate bubble and endless Wall Street “finalization”;

    2). Series of E-5 twisters turn Major East-or West-cities into hives of glass shrapnel;

    3). Vicious trans-species virus becomes communicable via humans and by rapid mutation
    resist any efforts to immunize–airborne black death crashing global economy;

    4). Climate change declared existential threat by military, resulting in coup and
    CO2 reduction by gun-barrel reasoning.

    In other words, other worst-case-scenarios, might deliver us-albeit temporarily-from bituminous suicide…