Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Max Baucus (D-MT) have been named to the fiscal super committee tasked with constructing a bipartisan plan to rein in the long-term federal deficit. Considering that Republicans have practically proscribed new revenues, new investments, or eliminating tax subsidies, the committee is likely to continue America’s slide into austerity.
However low the likelihood, the committee does have the opportunity to put together a package that actually addresses the real long-term threats the nation faces, with desperately needed clean-energy and climate-resilience infrastructure spending funded by strict taxes or a cap on carbon pollution.
Kerry has said he believes that climate change “biggest long term threat” to national security. His 2010 climate bill was scored by the Congressional Budget Office to reduce the deficit by $19 billion, even using its extremely conservative assumptions that a massive investment in clean energy and infrastructure would somehow slow economic growth. A more aggressive climate plan that reflects the true urgency of the climate crisis would do even more to restore jobs and cut the deficit.
“We owe it to our children and future generations to get this issue under control and soon,” Murray argues about climate change.
Unfortunately, Kerry and Murray have not yet spread their climate-hawk wings and pointed out that the only solution to the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook involves solving the climate crisis. On Meet the Press, Kerry described his view thusly:
And the real problem for our country is not the short-term debt. We can deal with that. It’s the long-term debt. It’s the structural debt of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid measured against the demographics of our nation. That, then juxtaposed to the lack of jobs and job creation and growth. That’s our problem, structural.
In a joint statement with Baucus, Kerry and Murray said:
Our challenge is to find common ground without damaging anyone’s principles. We believe we can get there.
Their challenges is to save this nation’s long-term economic future. One can only hope they choose reality over compromise, even if Republican Party principles like denying science are damaged.
The average League of Conservation Voters score of the nine members named to the panel so far is 38.11 out of a possible 100.