Democratic activists are becoming increasingly agitated about the glacial progress being made on Joe Biden’s agenda in Congress. This is especially true of the president’s climate agenda, the failure of which is causing some climate activists to experience a nervous breakdown.
On Friday, Biden was forced to pull from the Build Back Better bill one of the left’s treasured elements of Biden’s climate agenda: the Clean Electricity Performance Program. The significance of this action is that American climate activists going to Glasgow, Scotland, next week to attend the UN Climate Change Conference will arrive empty handed. Instead of being able to brag to the other climate radicals about being able to achieve a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, they won’t have anything worth mentioning.
“Joe Manchin just launched a hand grenade at Glasgow,” tweeted Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State. “W/out a clean energy standard in the reconciliation package, Biden admin cannot meet pledge of 50% reduction in U.S. carbon emissions by 2030. And international climate negotiations begin to collapse.”
Since the United States is the world’s largest economy and the biggest cumulative contributor to climate change, if it doesn’t go to the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow next month with policies in place to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by Biden’s target of 50 percent by 2030, it won’t be in a good position to ask other large emitters such as China to increase the ambition of their climate plans. And, without such an increase, the world will remain on its current trajectory to blow past the 2 degrees Celsius of global warming that scientists have said it is essential to stay below.
It’s a dubious proposition to believe China would “increase the ambition” of their climate plans even if the U.S. were able to cut 50 percent of its carbon emissions by 2030. In fact, it’s ludicrously naïve to think so. China is opening 43 new coal-fired electric plants in addition to operating 1,082 coal-fired plants — four times more than the second place nation India in operating coal-powered electric plants.
But the political problem for the White House is real.
“This will create a huge problem for the White House in Glasgow,” David G. Victor, co-director of the Deep Decarbonization Initiative at the University of California, San Diego, told the New York Times. “If you see the president coming in and saying all the right things with all the right aspirations, and then one of the earliest tests of whether he can deliver falls apart, it creates the question of whether you can believe him.”
Biden’s credibility as a climate warrior aside, the rest of Biden’s spending agenda appears to be going down the tubes.
While optimism remains in certain quarters heading into Democrats’ self-imposed Halloween deadline, elsewhere it is fleeting. From unions to environmental justice groups, a growing anticipation of disappointment is taking hold as Biden continues to negotiate with Congress on the social safety net legislation as well as a smaller companion infrastructure bill.
“If they don’t have something done by November 1, it’ll be a Democratic civil war. And going into Thanksgiving, that’s not a good thing,” a prominent super PAC operative told us. “Climate groups and labor, they know their clock is ticking. The closer this gets to the midterms, the harder it is for them.”
And the longer that the Democrats fail to advance their agenda, the costlier it gets.
For many of these groups, the reconciliation bill is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to achieve long sought goals. And if the party blows it, it won’t just be a psychic shock but a financial waste. These groups bolstered Biden’s agenda throughout his campaign and have spent heavily to elect members of Congress, run issue ads and lobby lawmakers. Now they want to see action.
“I just think it’s a slow march to a clusterf—, and that’s a scary thing,” the operative said.
The only out for the Democrats is to pass a very truncated “Build Back Better” bill that would include the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Then it’s a matter of hoping that the Democrats beat the odds and run up big majority in Congress at the midterms.
But that definitely won’t be satisfactory to the radicals who can’t even agree on cutting a few hundred billion dollars from their $3.5 trillion package.
Alas, radicals don’t compromise. They would rather blow up the entire process than craft legislation that would appeal to a vast majority of their members. In the end, Biden will have everyone mad at him and most believing him to be an incompetent fool.
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