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In Overheated Economy, Dems Forced To Cool Climate Messaging

In Overheated Economy, Dems Forced To Cool Climate Messaging

Authored by Susan Crabtree via RealClear Wire,

Eric Sorensen, a Democrat running…

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In Overheated Economy, Dems Forced To Cool Climate Messaging

Authored by Susan Crabtree via RealClear Wire,

Eric Sorensen, a Democrat running for an open seat in a northwest Illinois congressional district that Donald Trump narrowly won twice, concluded recently that his campaign website’s top issues section needed a major reshuffling.

Wind energy near Palm Springs Pacific Southwest Region USFWS fro

A section entitled “Addressing Climate Change,” which was initially leading the page, was relegated to the no. 4 spot, according to a comparison of the archived version of the website. The revamped website’s top two sections were new: “Addressing Rising Costs” and “Securing Reproductive Rights.”

Sorensen’s re-tooled website reflects the purple nature of his district and the shifting realities of the 2022 midterms as candidates head into the final stretch. Democrats are facing severe headwinds when it comes to the economy and inflation, and they can’t afford to dodge the issue or ignore the pain it's causing many low- and middle-income Americans.

At the same time, Democrats still hope that opposition to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning federal abortion protections continues to resonate enough to hand them wins in tight races around the country.

In unpredictable, ultra-competitive races like Sorensen’s, Democrats are deliberating over every move in the final weeks. The race for the seat held by retiring Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos pits Sorensen against Republican Esther Joy King, a U.S. Army JAG officer reservist running a campaign focused on combating inflation.

Yet, for Sorensen’s campaign to follow suit – to re-order his policy priorities and slide climate change down the priority list – is telling. The former TV weatherman’s campaign logo still includes a windmill and a sun. He’s also on the record repeatedly stating that climate change is his top priority while claiming to be the first meteorologist to mention climate change on air 15 years ago.

“Climate change is top,” Sorensen said at a virtual Democratic candidate forum in late April before the primary. “And I was the communicator for events as they happened so our local communities could understand the implications.”

Why the sudden shift? Republicans offer a succinct explanation: The climate message is backfiring among voters in Illinois' 17th Congressional District, which is split between rural and urban areas and is home to thousands of farms, including 157 dairy farms. (Dairy farms are a frequent target of environmentalists, who argue that the cows and their manure produce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.)

“Eric Sorensen is completely out of touch with Illinois voters,” National Republican Campaign Committee spokeswoman Courtney Parella said in a statement over the summer. “Sorensen wants Illinois families, already struggling to afford basic necessities thanks to Democrats’ inflation crisis, to pay higher costs for his radical climate agenda.”

The Sorensen campaign, which is endorsed by the National Resources Defense Council, a strong proponent of the Green New Deal, now offers a more nuanced version of his top policy priorities.

Our campaign is built around economic opportunity and making sure that Central and Northwest Illinois is sustainable now and for years to come,” Sorensen campaign spokesman Joseph Goldberg told RealClearPolitics in an emailed statement. “On the ground, we’re talking about lowering costs for working families and making sure we’re able to tackle the generational challenges that pose climate and economic threats to constituents.”

“We can both protect and expand thriving industries in Illinois and solve the climate crisis,” he added.

Not long ago, however, Sorensen and many other Democrats were wholeheartedly touting climate change as the transcendent issue of our time – and were busy promoting their party’s record on the subject.

As recently as mid-September, congressional Democrats and the White House celebrated the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which is considered one of the most significant climate measures in U.S. history. Signed by President Biden on Aug. 16, the legislation passed on a nearly straight party-line vote and allocates $369 billion over 10 years to various green investments while seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by some 40% by 2030.

As Biden and party leaders looked on at the White House signing ceremony, singer-songwriter James Taylor trumpeted the law’s green provisions. “It strikes me that this is a time when the world needs to cooperate ... more than ever before," he said of the climate change provisions.

Last month, Sorensen sent out a fundraising email focused solely on climate change. It highlighted a new study warning that Illinois will be “squarely within an ‘extreme heat belt,’ where dangerously high temperatures will threaten human health with increasing frequency as the planet warms.”

Yet, in the weeks since the Inflation Reduction Act’s passage, food and rent prices have continued to climb, with free-market economists and other administration critics blaming the law for exacerbating inflation, not easing it. Recent polls also show that the nation’s economic woes have pushed aside climate change as a top-tier voter concern.

A national poll conducted in mid-August for NBC by GOP and Democratic pollsters found that only 9% of respondents said “climate change” was an important election issue for them. The survey ranked it fifth behind “threats to democracy” (21%), “cost of living” (16%), “jobs and the economy” (14%), and immigration (13%). “Guns” and “abortion” came in just behind “climate change” at 8% each.

Those are national numbers, however, and concerns about climate vary state by state – and at the county level, which is a more relevant factor in House races. Last year, even before record inflation became the clear driving issue in the campaign, the green agenda was a tough sell in several agriculture-heavy districts, even in reliably Democratic Illinois. The state is the fourth highest producer of coal in the U.S., and over the last decade coal-fired power plants have been the second largest provider of energy in the state, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Illinois also generates more electricity from nuclear power than any other state.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a landmark law this month that will transition the state to 100% clean energy by 2045. Pritzker is up for reelection this year and has a lead in the low-double digits. But GOP challenger Darren Bailey, a state senator and farmer from downstate, has repeatedly hit Pritzker over his “virtue-signaling” green agenda, which he’s called harmful to the state’s agriculture industry.

Sorensen is already at odds with several national labor unions after opposing a pipeline project in the district that would transport liquified carbon dioxide 1,300 miles across four Midwest states and deposit it in central Illinois. The companies involved say the project would help ethanol refiners offset emissions from roughly 215,469 vehicles each year and create 8,000 jobs.

Statewide, some 1,200 farmers led by the Illinois Farm Bureau contacted their representatives over the summer, asking them to oppose the Inflation Reduction Act and faulting the measure for increasing taxes and failing to address “record-high input for [farming] costs,” among other reasons.

Meanwhile, a study by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, free-market think tanks, predicted that the Green New Deal would have a devastating impact on Midwest farming. The study points out that the Green New Deal’s emissions reductions offset fees of $230 per metric ton of carbon dioxide released will apply to dairy farms and could cost them up to $2,000 per cow. The same analysis also said the Green New Deal’s organic farming requirements would reduce corn and soybean yields by 11%.

In Sorensen’s telling, however, climate change and the green agenda would be resonating with voters if only the Democratic Party could get its talking points right. In August, Sorensen sent out a fundraising email criticizing Democratic party leaders for not doing a better job selling climate policies, especially in their infrastructure legislation, the Build Back Better Act, which preceded the Inflation Reduction Act.

“I believe Democrats need more communicators in Washington – individuals who know how to talk about complex issues in ways that highlight the positives but also address real, daily concerns,” he told supporters.

This is a common problem that we see with climate change,” he added. “Often, it’s framed around problems that aren’t tangible to everyday life, like ‘saving the polar bears.’ However, that’s not how voters here experience it.”

It’s a similar refrain to other Democrats who have blasted party leaders for “out-of-touch” positive economic talking points while hearing from voters experiencing pain at the pump and grocery stores. Rep. Susan Wild, a Pennsylvania Democrat running in another competitive House district, said she still backs the Inflation Reduction Act, even though she concedes its promises were exaggerated.

“[W]e should be cautious about over-promising,” she recently told the New York Times. “You always have to temper your enthusiasm with a huge dose of reality so that people don’t think that next time they go fill their prescription, it’s going to cost less.”

Despite the concerns from those campaigning on the ground, the White House this week continued to take credit for an economic turnaround since coming to office – even as the president acknowledged in a CNN interview that a “slight recession” is possible but unlikely.

“When he walked in, small businesses were closed, schools were not open … and thousands of people were dying from the pandemic a day,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday. "[Biden’s] economic policies have been able to get us back on track in a historic fashion.”

It’s that type of happy talk that leaves Josh Riley cold.

An attorney and former Capitol Hill staffer running as a Democrat in New York’s 19th District, Riley didn’t mince words recently when blaming the party’s unrealistic messaging for the economic headwinds they face.

Riley labeled recent talking points from Democratic Party leadership in Washington as “wildly out of touch,” arguing that he would “lose all credibility” if he repeated such unrealistic views on the economy to voters.

“Yeah, I got to be honest, folks: A lot of it is really bad right now,” he said at a local campaign event. “I don’t know if I’m supposed to say that, but it’s … The D.C. Democratic establishment is doing no favors.”

Tyler Durden Sat, 10/15/2022 - 20:30

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Under Pressure From Fat Activists, NYC Bans Weight Discrimination

Under Pressure From Fat Activists, NYC Bans Weight Discrimination

Discriminating against fat people is now illegal in New York City, after…

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Under Pressure From Fat Activists, NYC Bans Weight Discrimination

Discriminating against fat people is now illegal in New York City, after Mayor Eric Adams on Friday signed off on a ban that will affect not only employment, but also housing and access to public accommodations -- a term that encompasses most businesses. 

We're in safe company using the word "fat," as champions of the cause refer to themselves as "fat activists." With the mayor's signature, two more categories -- both weight and height -- are added to New York City's list of protected personal attributes, which already included race, gender, age, religion and sexual orientation. 

As Mayor Adams signs the law, self-described (and everyone else-described) fat activist Tigress Osborn consumes more than her share of the backdrop (James Messerschmidt for NY Post)

Embracing one of 2023's innumerable strains of Orwellian brainwashing, Adams declared, "Science has shown that body type is not a connection to if you’re healthy or unhealthy. I think that’s a misnomer that we’re really dispelling.”

Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say obesity is an invitation to a host of maladies, including to high blood pressure Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gall bladder disease, many types of cancer, mental illness and difficulty with physical functioning. 

“Size discrimination is a social justice issue and a public health threat," said Councilmember Shaun Abreu, who introduced the measure. "People with different body types are denied access to job opportunities and equal wages — and they have had no legal recourse to contest it," said Abreu. "Worse yet, millions are taught to hate their bodies." 

A full 69% of American adults are overweight or obese, but our woke overlords would have us believe the real "public health threat" is a nice restaurant that doesn't want Two-Ton Tessie working the reception desk, or a landlord who's leary of a 400-pound man breaking a toilet seat or collapsing a porch.  

The enticingly-named Tigress Osborn, who chairs the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, said New York's ban "will ripple across the globe" -- perhaps something like what would happen if the hefty Smith College Africana Studies graduate were dropped into a swimming pool.  

Councilmember Shaun Abreu said he gained 40 pounds during the pandemic lockdowns and noticed people treated him differently

The New York Times reports that witnesses who testified as the measure was under consideration included "a student at New York University said that desks in classrooms were too small for her [and] a soprano at the Metropolitan Opera [who] said she had faced body shaming and pressure to develop an eating disorder." 

Some have dared to speak out against the measure. “This is another mandate where enforcement will be primarily through litigation, which imposes a burden on employers, regulators and the courts,” said Kathryn S. Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, speaking in April. 

Implicitly putting the weight ordinance in the same category as Brown vs Board of Education, Abrue said, “Today is a monumental advancement for civil rights, size freedom and body positivity and while our laws are only now catching up to our culture, it is a victory that I hope will cause more cities, states and one day the federal government to follow suit.” 

Taking effect in six months, the law has an exemption for employers "needing to consider height or weight in employment decisions" -- but "only where required by federal, state, or local laws or regulations or where the Commission on Human Rights permits such considerations because height or weight may prevent a person from performing essential requirements of a job." 

We pray there's a federal exemption for employers of strippers and lap dancers. 

Think we're joking? We remind you that the chair of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is named "Tigress" -- and this is her Twitter profile banner photo:

via Tigress @iofthetigress
Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 15:30

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‘Kevin Caved’: McCarthy Savaged Over Debt Ceiling Deal

‘Kevin Caved’: McCarthy Savaged Over Debt Ceiling Deal

Update (1345ET): The hits just keep coming for Speaker Kevin McCarthy, as angry Republicans…

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'Kevin Caved': McCarthy Savaged Over Debt Ceiling Deal

Update (1345ET): The hits just keep coming for Speaker Kevin McCarthy, as angry Republicans have been outright rejecting the debt ceiling deal which raises it by roughly $4 trillion for two years, doesn't provide sticking points sought by the GOP.

In short, Kevin caved according to his detractors.

Some Democrats aren't exactly pleased either.

"None of the things in the bill are Democratic priorities," Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) told Fox News Sunday. "That's not a surprise, given that we're now in the minority. But the obvious point here, and the speaker didn't say this, the reason it may have some traction with some Democrats is that it's a very small bill."

*  *  *

After President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) struck a Saturday night deal to raise the debt ceiling, several Republicans outright rejected it before it could even be codified into a bill.

Here's what's in it;

  • The deal raises the debt ceiling by roughly $4 trillion for two years, and is consistent with the structure of budget deals struck in 2015, 2018 and 2019 which simultaneously raised the debt limit.
  • According to a GOP one-pager on the deal, it includes a rollback of non-defense discretionary spending to FY2022 levels, while capping topline federal spending to 1% annual growth for six years.
  • After 2025 there are no budget caps, only "non-enforceable appropriations targets."
  • Defense spending would be in-line with what Biden requested in his 2024 budget proposal - roughly $900 billion.
  • The deal fully funds medical care for veterans, including the Toxic Exposure Fund through the bipartisan PACT Act.
  • The agreement increases the age for which food stamp recipients must seek work to be eligible, from 49 to 54, but also includes reforms to expand who is eligible.
  • Claws back "tens of billions" in unspent COVID-19 funds
  • Cuts IRS funding 'without nixing the full $80 billion' approved last year. According to the GOP, the deal will "nix the total FY23 staffing funding request for new IRS agents."
  • The deal includes energy permitting reform demanded by Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)
  • No new taxes, according to McCarthy.

Here's McCarthy acting like it's not DOA:

Yet, Republicans who demanded deep cuts aren't having it.

"A $4 trillion debt ceiling increase?" tweeted Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA). "With virtually none of the key fiscally responsible policies passed in the Limit, Save, Grow Act kept intact?"

"Hard pass. Hold the line."

"Hold the line... No swamp deals," tweeted Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX)

"A $4 TRILLION debt ceiling increase?! That's what the Speaker's negotiators are going to bring back to us?" tweeted Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC). "Moving the issue of unsustainable debt beyond the presidential election, even though 60% of Americans are with the GOP on it?"

Rep. Keith Self tweeted a letter from 34 fellow House GOP members who are committing to "#HoldTheLine for America" against the deal.

"Nothing like partying like it’s 1996. Good grief," tweeted Russ Vought, President of the Center for Renewing America and former Trump OMB director.

In short:

Tyler Durden Sun, 05/28/2023 - 11:30

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Debt ceiling negotiators reach a deal: 5 essential reads about the tentative accord, brinkmanship and the danger of default

The deal would raise the ceiling for two years, cap some federal spending and impose new work requirements on certain federal benefits. It still needs…

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Biden speaks to reporters about the tentative accord. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on May 27, 2023, agreed in principle to a tentative deal that would raise the debt ceiling while capping some federal spending at current levels.

The accord, if approved by both houses of Congress, would avert an unprecedented default that threatens to derail the economy and put hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work. Negotiators agreed to lift the ceiling for two years – past the 2024 presidential election – while putting a temporary cap on most nondefense spending at 2023 levels. It would also reduce planned funding for the IRS, impose new work requirements on some people who receive benefits from the federal program known as SNAP and claw back billions of unspent funds from pandemic relief programs.

The Conversation has been covering the debt ceiling drama since January, when Republicans took over the House, raising fears that brinkmanship would lead to an economic catastrophe. Here are five articles from our archive to help you make sense of a couple key aspects of the tentative deal and provide context on the debt ceiling fight.

1. What is the debt ceiling

First some basics. The debt ceiling was established by the U.S. Congress in 1917. It limits the total national debt by setting out a maximum amount that the government can borrow.

Steven Pressman, an economist at The New School, explained the original aim was “to let then-President Woodrow Wilson spend the money he deemed necessary to fight World War I without waiting for often-absent lawmakers to act. Congress, however, did not want to write the president a blank check, so it limited borrowing to US$11.5 billion and required legislation for any increase.”

Since then, the debt ceiling has been increased dozens of times. It currently stands at $31.4 trillion – a figure reached in January. The Treasury has taken “extraordinary measures” to enable the government to keep borrowing without breaching the ceiling. Such measures, however, can only be temporary – meaning at one point Congress will have to act to lift the ceiling or default on its debt obligations, which is expected to happen by June 5, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, if the deal isn’t approved in time.


Read more: Why America has a debt ceiling: 5 questions answered


2. The trouble with work requirements

One of the biggest sticking points toward the end of negotiations was work requirements for recipients of government aid. The tentative deal would raise the age for existing work requirements from 49 to 54 years on able-bodied adults who have no children. This is less than what Republicans had earlier sought. There are exceptions for veterans and the homeless.

But if the goal is to help people find jobs and make more money, work requirements don’t actually do the job, wrote Kelsey Pukelis, a doctoral student in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School who has studied the issue. Rather, they make it much harder for people who need food aid to get it.

“Our findings do suggest that work requirements restrain federal spending by reducing the number of people getting SNAP benefits,” she explained. “But our work also indicates that in today’s context, these savings would be at the expense of already vulnerable people facing additional economic hardship at a time when a new recession could be around the corner.”


Read more: SNAP work requirements don’t actually get more people working – but they do drastically limit the availability of food aid


3. IRS funding takes a hit

The deal also takes aim at a big boost in spending Congress gave the Internal Revenue Service beginning in 2022 to crack down on tax cheats and upgrade its software. Democrats agreed to a Republican demand to cut the extra IRS funding from $80 billion to $70 billion.

Back in August 2022, Nirupama Rao, an economist at the University of Michigan, explained why Democrats included all that funding in their Inflation Reduction Act and how it would help the IRS collect more tax revenue, since the agency does not fully collect all the taxes that are owed.

“The main target of this spending is the so-called tax gap, which is currently estimated at about $600 billion a year,” she wrote. “While an $80 billion investment that returns $204 billion already sounds pretty impressive, it may be possible that it’s a conservative estimate.”


Read more: Will the Inflation Reduction Act actually reduce inflation? How will the corporate minimum tax work? An economist has answers


4. The hard road to compromise

It took a long time for Republicans and Democrats to get the current agreement.

Yellen warned in January that the government was about to hit the debt limit and would be unable to pay all its bills by May or June. McCarthy and House Republicans, who hold a razor-thin majority, appeared unwilling to raise the debt ceiling unless they could extract deep spending cuts. Meanwhile, Biden refused to negotiate, insisting on a clean debt ceiling bill. Both of those positions were dropped during negotiations.

Why did it take so long for them to reach a compromise?

Blame political trends that have been accelerating for decades, explained Laurel Harbridge-Yong, a specialist in partisan conflict and the lack of bipartisan agreement in American politics at Northwestern University. Many Republicans come from very safe districts, which means their primary against other conservatives is more important than the general election. This makes it more important to stand firm and fight until the bitter end.

“So you now have many Republicans who are more willing to fight quite hard against the Democrats because they don’t want to give a win to Biden,” she wrote. “Democrats are also resistant to compromising, both because they don’t want to gut programs that they put in place and also because they don’t want to make this look like a win for Republicans, who were able to play chicken and get what they wanted.”


Read more: Voters want compromise in Congress -- so why the brinkmanship over the debt ceiling?


5. Latest in a long line of fiscal crises

This was hardly the first fiscal crisis the U.S. government has faced. In fact, there have been many – including 22 government shutdowns since just 1976.

Raymond Scheppach, a professor of public policy at University of Virginia, offered a brief history of recent crises and the damage they’ve caused – and why a default would be far more consequential than past crises.

“While these were very disruptive and damaged the economy and employment, they pale in comparison to the potential effects of failing to lift the debt ceiling, which could be catastrophic,” he wrote. “It could bring down the entire international financial system. This in turn could devastate the world gross domestic product and create mass unemployment.”


Read more: A brief history of debt ceiling crises and the political chaos they've unleashed


Editor’s note: This story is a roundup of articles from The Conversation’s archives. Portions of this article originally appeared in a previous article published on May 2, 2023.

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