President Barack Obama needs to gulp down a couple of mugs of super-caffeinated coffee and stop sipping the weak tea that must be being served in the White House these days. He needs to ratchet it up more than a couple of notches.
Take the global warming bill, please. The Administration is gushing that Congress, which is tightly controlled by Democrats, passed the first-ever bill aimed at fighting global warming. The margin of victory: a slim 219 to 212. Not exactly a boffo victory. The bill is merely a start.
The American Climate and Energy Security Act, as it is currently written, targets an emission cut of greenhouse gases by four percent by 2020. That’s a mere pittance. The Nobel Award Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change urged the U.S. and other industrial nations to slash emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020 to head off an environmental disaster.
Since the bill narrowly passed in the House, does anyone believe tougher targets will be included in the Senate version of the bill? Not a chance.
The President is not being straight with the American people. He says the bill is the best possible outcome, but Obama didn't even break a sweat. It's beyond baffling that Obama didn't use some of his political capital to counter effective corporate lobbying on behalf of the bill. The energy lobby won this fight hands down.
Clive Crook, columnist for the Financial Times, calls the “cap and trade bill a travesty.” The House bill’s net effect on short-to-medium term carbon emissions are “small to none,” in Crook’s view. The bill goes to the heart of what’s wrong with Obama.
Crook believes the President isn’t a leader of reform, rather a “cheerleader of reform.” He talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. The President will accept a flawed bill, rather than fight for something with teeth. Crook wrote: “On climate change, he was firm on the need to auction all emissions permits. Congress proposes to do the opposite and Mr. Obama’s instant response is ‘That will do nicely.” The President’s team claims it is being pragmatic and understanding of political realities. A better description: Obama is ”choosing to be weak” as the FT headline reports.
The President is a singles hitter at a time the nation needs home runs on the environmental, financial and healthcare reform fronts. He is the punchless New York Mets rather than New York Yankees.
Obama has to start going for the fences while he still enjoys broad political support. As chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” The American Climate and Energy Security Act is a wasted opportunity to deal with global warming.