Ever since President Obama introduced a budget that included his cap-and-trade plan to invest in a green economy and make work pay instead of pollution, conservatives have falsely attacked it as a $3100 light-switch tax, despite their lack of an alternative plan. On Tuesday, the Senate bowed to the barrage of propaganda and passed two amendments to the budget that imply any move to clean energy is a risky tax on consumers. On Wednesday, the Senate explicitly preserved the filibuster for green economy legislation (67-31 vote), even if “the Senate finds that public health, the economy and national security of the United States are jeopardized by inaction on global warming” (42-56):
SUPPORTING THE FALSE CHOICE OF ECONOMY V. ENVIRONMENT
Amendment No. 749, introduced by Sen. Boxer (D-CA): Requires that green economy legislation does not “increase electricity or gasoline prices or increase the overall energy burden on consumers, through the use of revenues and policies provided in such legislation.”
Passed 54-43; Bingaman (D-NM) and Byrd (D-WV) joined every Republican in voting against; Gillibrand (D-NY) and Kennedy (D-MA) not voting.
Amendment No. 731, Sen. Thune (R-SD): Requires that green economy legislation does not “increase electricity or gasoline prices.”
Passed 89-8: Bingaman, Cardin (D-MD), Corker (R-TN), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Menendez (D-NJ), Udall (D-NM) and Whitehouse (D-RI) voted against, Gillibrand and Kennedy not voting.
PRESERVING GREEN ECONOMY FILIBUSTER
Amendment No. 869, Sens. Whitehouse (D-RI) and Boxer: Allows non-filibusterable budget reconciliation for green economy legislation, if “the Senate finds that public health, the economy and national security of the United States are jeopardized by inaction on global warming.”
Rejected 42-56: Begich (D-AK), Byrd, Cantwell (D-WA), Dorgan (D-ND), Feingold (D-WI), Hagan (D-NC), Landrieu (D-LA), Levin (D-MI), Lincoln (D-AR), McCaskill (D-MO), Murray (D-WA), Nelson (D-NE), Rockefeller (D-WV), Stabenow (D-MI), Webb (D-VA) joined every Republican in voting against, Kennedy not voting.
Amendment No. 735, Sen. Johanns (R-NE): Prohibits the use of reconciliation in the Senate for green economy legislation.
Passed 67-31: Baucus (D-MT), Bayh (D-IN), Begich, Bennet (D-CO), Bingaman, Byrd, Cantwell, Casey (D-PA), Conrad (D-ND), Dorgan, Feingold, Hagan, Klobuchar (D-MN), Kohl (D-WI), Landrieu, Levin, Lincoln, McCaskill, Murray, Nelson, Pryor (D-AR), Rockefeller (D-WV), Stabenow, Tester (D-MT), Warner (D-VA), Webb joined every Republican in voting for, Kennedy not voting.
The budget language affected by these amendments calls for green economy legislation that “would invest in clean energy technology initiatives, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, or help families, workers, communities, and businesses make the transition to a clean energy economy.”
Of course that legislation will affect electricity and gasoline prices in some way — any plan to end our pollution Ponzi scheme will. There’s no way to write energy legislation that guarantees prices don’t go up, just as there’s no way to write legislation that guarantees prices don’t go down. However, thanks to President Bush, we do know what happens without clean energy policies — electricity and gasoline prices skyrocket, polluters profit, pollution rises, and the economy tanks. And we also know that the sun, the wind, and efficiency are free. Conservatives want to maintain the Bush-Cheney policy of letting oil and coal companies write our laws, demolish our economy, and ruin our planet. Unfortunately, it seems there are few in the Senate who are able or willing to stand up against them.
We need a plan for a green economy, not political gimmicks without answers.
Matt Yglesias comments on the filibuster votes:
This is good for Republicans, since it helps them achieve their goal of destroying the planet. And it’s good for Democrats, since it helps them achieve their goal of pretending to try to avoid the destruction of the planet while ensuring that, in practice, the planet is destroyed. And Senators Johanns was born in 1950, so he’ll almost surely be dead by 2050 (along with countless residents of flood-prone areas of the developing world) so it’s basically all good.