If You Want to Get Things Done, Use Reconciliation

There’s a ton to chew on in this Washington Post piece by Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson about increasingly desperate efforts to find a legislative approach to the climate problem that can survive in Congress. I just wanted to highlight this one graf:

The change in policy, which might even include giving money raised through carbon pollution allowances directly back to consumers, a scheme known as “cap-and-dividend,” could appeal to some wavering senators. Senior Obama administration officials have also been studying the cap-and-dividend approach. But it remains unclear whether that would be enough to produce the 60 votes proponents need, especially when the Senate has yet to finish work on health-care legislation and a jobs package.

As I’ve been trying to warn since Election Day, I think it’s just not realistic to imagine that our country’s big problems can be solved under conditions of supermajority rule. The brief period during which there were 60 Democratic Senators was fluky and unsustainable. A big part of the key to tackling the climate issue has to be moving beyond this 60 vote business. Ideally, that would mean changing the rules of the Senate. But more modestly, it can mean the budget reconciliation process.

And in principle one thing that could be appealing about a “cap-and-dividend” approach is that it would be ideally suited to the rules governing reconciliation as it’s more or less a pure budgetary measure. And from a tactical point of view if you ask me this needs to be the top priority, not asking what kind of climate bill can get 60 votes, but what kind of climate bill only needs 50 votes.