No matter how hard I try, I can’t quite get my head around the combination of Washington’s obsession with decades-away projected fiscal shortfalls and it’s total lack of interest in decades-away projected climate disaster. If you asked me why the political prospects for addressing the climate crisis are so bleak, I’d say it’s easy to understand. The worst effects of it are in the fairly distant future, the rich old people who run the country will be dead by then, etc. But at the same time, everyone’s obsessed with the idea that Medicare will be too costly in 2070. It’s considered both brave and serious to focus like a laser on the problem even while simultaneously insisting that it’s politically unrealistic to propose any changes that take effect sooner than 2022. It’s absolutely insane, and it’s an important reminder of the significant ways in which the interests of powerful politicians drive the attention of policy wonks and journalists rather than the other way around.
But as a reminder:
— Cap and trade with auctioned permits will reduce the deficit and improve public health.
— Higher gasoline taxes will reduce the deficit and improve public health.
— Congestion pricing will reduce the deficit and boost economic growth.
— Curbing regulatory restrictions on density will boost economic growth.
Yes this is a “politically unrealistic” agenda, but why is that different from the widely praised “boldness” and “bravery” and “adult” nature of various deficit hawk concepts? Can’t we get a commission? A grant from Pete Peterson? Something? It seems to me that a politician who wrote down a Ryan-style “Climate Roadmap” would find him or herself dismissed as a leftwing crackpot pushing wishful thinking rather than a bold thinker. It’s infuriating.