We hear the presidential candidates complain often about the problems in Washington. Its almost a cliche that the special interests and corporate lobbyists have made real progress impossible in Congress. If this problem has seemed like an abstract concept to you, let me point out a concrete example that is happening right now in Washington.
This week, the Senate began debating a comprehensive global warming bill written by Independent Senator Joe Leiberman and Republican Senator John Warner. The legislation described a number of new, innovative mechanisms that would allow the government to regulate carbon emissions the same way they regulate water and air pollution.
Immediately upon hearing that their industries would be affected by this new legislation, the oil, gas, coal and manufacturing corporations went into full fear mongering and influence peddling mode. Advertisements were run all over the internet, on television and in newspapers that attempted to tie fear over recent gas price increases to the passage of this bill. Politicians from states with large coal or oil industries were sent to the Senate floor to make outrageous claims about the implications of the bill. Senator Mitch McConnell from Kentucky claimed that the bill was, "The largest restructuring of the American economy since the New Deal."
All these inaccurate statements were being spread in spite of a report from the Bush Administration's own EPA which clearly explained that the impact of this legislation on the U.S. economy was so insignificant that the GDP's growth would be hampered by maybe 1%. You can read about that report HERE.
But as has been the case over and over again in Washington, the industry tactics worked and the bill failed to come to a vote in the Senate after 60 votes couldn't be found to overcome a threat by Republicans to filibuster.
This means a bipartisan plan that would have reduced carbon emissions by 71% by 2050 is now shoved in a drawer for another year. I don't want to be too partisan, but when I hear Republican voters complain about their party's terrible prospects in November, I can't help feeling like they have made their bed by obstructing progress and now they must sleep in it.
Read an MSNBC article about the failure of the Climate Security Act HERE