Another day, another Republican presidential candidate releasing a policy proposal that doesn’t fit with the priorities of working Americans. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush released his energy plan today, and while he presented it as a plan to get the economy humming along, the reality is that it is out-of-date, broken, and unworkable.
Bush’s four-point plan would lift restrictions on exports of oil and natural gas; weaken or eliminate key public health standards including cuts to dangerous carbon pollution from power plants; allow states and tribes to dump unlimited pollution; and approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Eliminating limits on carbon pollution is a predictable gift for polluters and dirty energy producers, like the Koch brothers. But what breaks Jeb’s plan beyond repair is what it leaves out. The plan fails to address climate change. It would take us backward by undoing the Clean Power Plan and America’s leadership on climate action. Finally, despite promising to “unleash the energy revolution,” Jeb leaves out the actual energy revolution: clean energy.
Simply put, Jeb Bush’s energy plan won’t drive us toward a 21st century economy. Here’s why:
It overheats: Jeb’s plan fails to even address man-made climate change
Jeb’s been hazy at best when it comes to his stance on climate change. Earlier this spring Bush said he is “concerned” about climate change, but a month later he sang a different tune saying, “For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you.”
As the former Governor of Florida, one would hope Bush knows about the consequences of ignoring climate change. The Southeastern United States, and Florida in particular, are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, from sea level rise to extreme heat events to hurricanes. In South Florida the streets already flood on some sunny days at high tide and climate change promises to make that flooding more severe. In addition to its environmental costs, climate change poses a huge economic threat to the country and to Florida specifically. Flooding from sea-level rise is expected to cost the state up to $15 billion by 2030 and up to $23 billion by 2050. Florida alone has a trillion-dollar real-estate bubble waiting to burst as a result of sea level rise or the next superstorm surge. And Florida isn’t alone in its vulnerability to climate change, the total annual price tag for hurricanes and other coastal storms is estimated to be up to $35 billion.
It spews exhaust: Jeb’s plan doesn’t mention anything about clean energy
The first sentence of Jeb Bush’s energy plan references economic growth. Indeed, the promise of 4 percent economic growth has been a centerpiece of his whole campaign. But the energy plan Bush put forward, shockingly, makes no mention of the fastest growing sector of the industry: renewable energy. In fact, half the new electricity generation in the United States comes from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydro. Solar energy on its own accounted for one out of every 78 new jobs created last year in entire United States economy, beating out oil both gas pipeline construction and crude oil and natural gas extraction.
Jeb can’t be ignoring clean energy because it hurts the economy. Is he ignoring it because he thinks it’s bad politics? That doesn’t make any sense either, as a national poll released yesterday by conservative foundation ClearPath demonstrates: more than three-quarters of Republican voters believe that accelerating the growth of clean energy would “create economic growth and jobs at home.”
It stalls out: Jeb’s plan would undo key public health standards
Not only does Jeb’s plan not address actions to address the warming climate, his proposal would actually take steps backward with its short-sighted focus. Three of the four points included in Jeb’s plan lift important public health standards put in place to protect Americans against the negative health and economic impacts of climate change.
One of those points is the elimination of the Clean Power Plan, a move that could lead to thousands of premature deaths and forfeit the Clean Power Plan’s estimated health and climate benefits worth up to $54 billion a year in 2030. Bush also argued that the Clean Power Plan will increase electricity costs, ignoring the fact that the cost of climate change is widely expected to be more than the cost of clean energy. In his arguments against federal legislation on climate change, Jeb has expressed concern for our “ability to compete in an increasingly competitive world.” But it was the Obama administration’s strong leadership with the Clean Power Plan that inspired China to establish its own aggressive steps to limit carbon pollution.
BOTTOM LINE: Jeb!’s energy plan fails to address man-made climate change, forgets to mention clean energy, and discards key public health standards, begging the question: is this the energy plan you want to drive you into the future?
Two more candidates joined the race for the Republican presidential nomination on Monday. Of the two, retired brain surgeon Ben Carson is the one likely to have the most impact. That makes it frightening how much Carson just doesn’t get.
Carson went back to his roots to announce his candidacy for the nomination. On an auditorium stage in Detroit — his estranged hometown — he recounted his troubled, poverty-stricken childhood and then launched into a speech that revealed just how much he doesn’t get, for a guy who wants to be president.
What Ben Carson Doesn’t Get About The Safety Net
Carson’s humble upbringing is an important part of his narrative. His rise to becoming one of the top neurosurgeons in the country and a best-selling author is impressive because it starts in the poverty-stricken streets of Detroit and a fatherless home headed by a single mother with little education. Carson attempted to preemptively rebut those who would point out that his childhood experience of poverty doesn’t seem to inform his political positions.
There were many people who were critical of me, because they say Ben Carson wants to get rid of all the safety nets and welfare programs, even though he must have benefitted from them. I have no desire to get rid of safety net programs for people who need them. I have a strong desire to get rid of programs that create dependency in able-bodied people.
This is a blatant lie. Carson pointed out that his mother worked “extraordinarily hard,” often at two or three jobs, “trying to stay off welfare. And the reason for that,” Carson said, “was that she noticed that most of the people she saw on welfare never came off of it.” Carson either forgot or neglected to mention that his mother turned to the welfare system to meet family needs her earnings could not.
In his book “Gifted Hands,” Carson writes that his grades improved after he got free eyeglasses from a government program:
By the time I reached ninth grade, mother had made such strides that she received nothing but food stamps. She couldn’t have provided for us and kept up the house without that subsidy.
What Carson doesn’t get about the safety net is that there are plenty of “able-bodied” people who receive some form of government assistance, and it doesn’t make them any more “dependent” than it made his mother. There are plenty of people who work “extraordinarily hard,” who have to rely on the safety net — not because they’re “dependent,” but because they don’t earn enough to afford essentials like shelter, food, medical care and transportation without assistance.
If Carson is really concerned about “dependency,” he should take on the $70 billion per year we spend subsidizing the oil industry, or the $20 billion a year we spend on farm subsidies, before taking assistance away from families who are where he used to be.
What Ben Carson Doesn’t Get About The “Turmoil In Our Cities”
Carson alluded to the unrest in Baltimore; Ferguson, Mo., and other cities where unarmed black men have been killed by police.
The past couple of weeks, there has been a great deal of turmoil in Baltimore. I spent 36 years of my life there, and we see the turmoil in cities all over our nation. We need to start thinking about how do we get to the bottom of this issue. I believe the real issue here is that people are losing hope, and they don’t feel life is going to be good for them no matter what happens. When an opportunity comes to loot, to riot, to get mine, they take it — not believing that there is a much better way to get the things that they desire.
What Carson doesn’t get about “turmoil in our cities,” is that in cities like Ferguson, Baltimore, and Detroit, people lose hope because their isn’t much of any way to get the things, or the life, they desire. That’s because jobs have disappeared from these cities, in large part due to economic policies and trade deals that made it easier for businesses and corporations to ship jobs overseas, where labor was cheap and unorganized, and environmental protections were few or non-existent.
In cities like Detroit and Baltimore, the loss of manufacturing jobs hit black communities the hardest — and black men in particular — because they were disproportionately represented in those jobs. Those jobs didn’t require a college education, but provided good wages and benefits that lifted many families into the middle class.
Not only are those jobs gone, but they have been replaced by low-wage jobs that provide no pathway to the middle class. That’s unlikely to change as long as we subsidize businesses and corporations that don’t pay their employees a livable wage.
What Ben Carson Doesn’t Get About Health Care
He didn’t dwell on it in his announcement speech, but Carson is so opposed to the Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare, that he’s compared it to both slavery and 9/11.
● In a speech at the 2013 Values Voter conference, Carson said: “You know Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is in a way, it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control.”
● Later, in an interview with the Daily Beast, Carson said that Obamacare was the worst thing to happen to the U.S. since the 9/11 terrorist attacks: “Because 9/11 is an isolated incident. Things that are isolated issues as opposed to things that fundamentally change the United Sates of America and shift power from the people to the government. That is a huge shift. You have to take a long-term look at something that fundamentally changes the power structure of America.”
● The health care plan on Carson’s website is about as sparse and vague as the GOP plans for Obamacare “replacements.” Beyond re-establishing “a strong and direct relationship between patients and their physicians,” the only idea he has is an old one: health savings accounts, which by definition favor the well and wealthy. Republicans have been pushing health savings accounts since 2006.
What Carson doesn’t get about Obamacare is that, despite its imperfections, the health care reform law is popular with the majority of Americans. A recent Bloomberg poll showed that 63 percent of Americans think the law should be left alone, or allowed to work in order to find out how it should be changed. Only about 35 percent want Obamacare repealed, and most of them are people the who aren’t impacted by the law.
That’s because it lowered the number of uninsured Americans, and increased the number of Americans with access to care without increasing spending on medical care. In fact, it’s coming in 20 percent under projected costs. The number of uninsured has fallen by more than 11 million since the law’s passage, and is now at a seven-year low. More than 16 million Americans now have affordable, quality health insurance thanks to Obamacare — including presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who once swore to repeal “every word it.”
What Ben Carson Doesn’t Get About Climate Change
For a man of science, Ben Carson doesn’t get what the big deal is about climate change. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s irrelevant. What is relevant is that we have an obligation and a responsibility to protect our environment,” he said in an interview in Des Moines, Iowa. “You can ask it several different ways, but my answer is going to be the same. We may be warming. We may be cooling.”
What Carson doesn’t get about climate change is what the GOP doesn’t get. Not only is there a consensus in the scientific community, but (as with the next issue) Americans have moved past the GOP on this issue. A Yale/Utah State University poll showed that 63 percent of Americans think climate change is happening, along with 99 percent of the counties in the country.
What Ben Carson Doesn’t Get About Marriage Equality
Despite the issue currently being before the Supreme Court, Ben Carson didn’t mention marriage in his announcement speech. Perhaps he finally learned his lesson. Carson managed of the biggest gaffes so far this campaign season when he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo how he knew that being gay is a “choice.”
Ben Carson, the prospective 2016 presidential hopeful beloved by Tea Partiers, told CNN host Chris Cuomo on Wednesday that he believes homosexuality is “absolutely” a choice—because “a lot of people who go into prison, go into prison straight, and when they come out, they’re gay.”
The former neurosurgeon went on, “So did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.”
While the rest of the country cringed, the scientific community called Carson out, noting that decades of research shows that sexual orientation is inborn, not chosen. (Something so obvious that even Florida Sen. Marco Rubio can grasp it, or at least pretend to.)
After becoming the focus of near universal ridicule, Carson decided that he just wouldn’t talk about the issue anymore. What Carson doesn’t get about marriage equality is that he won’t get away with that on the campaign trail. The GOP base is light years behind the rest of the country, and they will demand that he says something about it, especially when the court’s decision is announced this summer.
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump released his tax plan today and—shocking no one familiar with American politics—analysis by the Center For American Progress Action Fund shows the plan would be another ‘uge windfall for the wealthiest few. In fact, Trump’s family stands to gain more from his plan than almost anyone, with the elimination of the estate tax giving the Trump family a tax cut of up to $3.48 billion, and the dramatic cut to the corporate tax rate also benefitting the family.
The “losers” under Trump’s plan will be anyone that relies on Medicare, Medicaid, or investment in things like infrastructure, education or job training—in other words middle class families. Like Jeb! Bush before him, Trump makes the tired argument that his tax plan is focused on the middle class, when in fact it is a big, beautiful tax cut for the wealthy. Here are three ways the plan favors the wealthy few at the expense of the middle class:
A simply tremendous gift to his kids. Among the biggest beneficiaries of Trump’s pitch to eliminate the estate tax? The Trumps themselves. The estate tax only applies to estates worth $5.43 million, and only two out of every one thousand estates pay any estate tax at all.
The best, most luxurious tax plan for those living in luxury. Trump’s tax plan would slash corporate, individual income, and capital gains and dividends tax rates—three moves that give bigger boosts to the nation’s richest.
A ‘uge increase to the deficit. Trump claims that his plan “doesn’t add to our debt and deficit,” but any reasoned analysis of the plan suggests that it would be extremely costly. The plan jeopardizes programs that working and middle class families depend on for economic security, like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
BOTTOM LINE: Despite Trump’s populist rhetoric, his tax plan would only be the best, most luxurious tax plan for those already living in luxury. It gives his own family a potential $3.48 billion tax cut, jeopardizing programs that middle class families depend on for economic security along the way.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is suffering from a severe case of climate denier syndrome. In a recent interview, he said “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.”
That’s right. A 2016 presidential hopeful does not believe the fact that climate change is already impacting the lives of millions of Americans—especially his constituents in Florida.
This is not the time to ignore verifiable facts, and it’s definitely not time for candidates to run on anti-science platforms.
Join Daily Kos and NextGen Climate in telling Senator Rubio he is dead wrong about climate change. NextGen Climate will send you updates and information about what’s happening and how you can get involved.
Paul Hogarth, Daily Kos