As a drippy day dawns in Washington, Team Obama is suiting up for a full-court press on climate change. Three cabinet secretaries — from Energy, Transportation and Interior departments — the head of the EPA and the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Five — are headed for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the first of three full days of hearings.
Tales from the Trail
from Environment Forum:
The sweeping legislation unveiled in the U.S. Senate today aims to curb climate change, arguably one of the biggest tasks ever undertaken on this planet. But it's a bill that runs to more than 800 pages, and hidden in its folds is a provision that could turn a noted symbol of New York City -- the yellow taxicab -- green.
Former Democratic Party Chairman Paul Kirk has a few months in his new job to help accomplish what his friend, the late Senator Edward Kennedy, devoted much of his life to: Trying to provide affordable healthcare to all Americans.
He warned that the U.S. government must not be in a position to “pull the plug on grandma.”But Senator Charles Grassley, a leading Republican who could be key to President Barack Obama’s hopes of overhauling healthcare, acknowledged on Sunday that so-called “death panels” weren’t really a possibility anyway.Grassley, the leading Republican in the Senate Finance Committee, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that his well-publicized comment about pulling the plug was only meant to convey the fears of voters.“It won’t do that. But I wanted to explain why my constituents are concerned about it,” Grassley said.He was quoted saying earlier this month that “You have every right to fear. You shouldn’t have counseling at the end of life, you should have done that 20 years before. Should not have a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma.”He struggled a bit when asked to explain why he made the comments in the first place: “I said that because — two reasons. Number one, I was responding to a question at my town meetings. I let my constituents set the agenda. A person that asked me that question was reading from language that they got off of the Internet. It scared my constituents…”Obama expressed outrage on Saturday about persistent rumors about the government-run “death panels” — an issue most notably raised by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who was the Republican vice presidential nominee last year.“As every credible person who has looked into it has said, there are no so-called ‘death panels’ — an offensive notion to me and to the American people,” Obama said. “These are phony claims meant to divide us.”The issue stems from a provision in a House of Representatives bill that would have provided government funding for optional counseling on end-of-life care issues such as hospice.Obama’s healthcare plan has been hit from both sides, with liberal members of his own party pushing for major changes while Republicans and conservative Democrats fret about cost and government involvement. The debate likely will intensify next month when Congress returns from its summer recess.Do you think Grassley’s acknowledgement will help end the debate over death panels?
Republican opposition is building after independent auditors estimated their initial efforts could cost more and cover fewer than initially hoped, reducing the chance of winning the bipartisan support that could ensure that any reforms will last.
Sure it’s a long way before the November 2010 U.S. congressional election — and a lot can happen between now and then. But at this point, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada seems to be in jeopardy of becoming the second Senate leader in a half century to be voted out of office.