Well, well — it seems that reality has poked its head into the U.S. Senate. This report explains:
Senate Democratic leaders said Tuesday they would put off debate on a big climate-change bill until spring, in a sign of weakening political will to tackle a long-term environmental issue at a time of high unemployment and economic uncertainty.
And if they can’t get a massive tax and regulatory bill through now, how are they going to get it passed in an election year? One suspects they won’t and it’s dead. But this was a top Obama priority (“The climate-bill delay sidetracks one of President Barack Obama’s top domestic priorities. Mr. Obama has said action to curb greenhouse gases would unleash investment in clean-energy technology and create jobs”). Couldn’t he use his power of persuasion to get this through? Apparently not. While Nancy Pelosi could force her troops to walk the plank (for nothing, it turned out), the ensuing backlash has cooled whatever enthusiasm there was for this. And 10.2 percent unemployment didn’t help either:
Momentum for a climate bill has been undermined by fears that capping carbon-dioxide emissions — the inevitable product of burning oil and coal — would slow economic growth, raise energy costs and compel changes in the way Americans live.
“It’s really big, really, really hard, and is going to make a lot of people mad,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.).
Democrats looking ahead to the 2010 midterm elections are concerned about a backlash from voters in industrial and heartland states dependent on coal. Republicans are portraying Democrats’ “cap and trade” proposals, which call for capping overall U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions and allowing companies to buy and trade permits to emit those gases, as a “cap and tax” scheme.
You don’t suppose a similar sentiment might take hold on health-care reform, do you? Stay tuned.