TPM Cafe: Opinion

Once in college, a friend and I were talking about unplanned pregnancy, and I mentioned that I knew five or six women that had had abortions. “Wow,” my friend replied, “I don’t know anyone that’s had one.”

“Or maybe you do and they just haven’t told you,” I pointed out.

I thought of our long-ago conversation the other week, after seeing Obvious Child.

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In response to the Obama administration’s announcement that it would require major reductions in carbon emissions from American power plants, supporters and opponents alike were quick to point out that without a strong international agreement to curb carbon emissions, unilateral U.S. reductions will prove inadequate in the face of what is truly a global challenge. The administration’s supporters praised the President for sending a clear signal to the world that America will lead by example. Opponents, meanwhile, feared that unilateral U.S. reductions were a sucker’s play, setting us up to be taken advantage of by China and other competitors that have no intention of following our lead.

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Pop culture loves pregnant women, pregnant celebrities, and TV shows about pregnant teens. Our news is constantly splattered with announcements of which famous person is reproducing—the latest speculation centers on Jennifer Aniston and Kourtney Kardashian—and we embrace the celebrity baby photos in magazines. And for good reason—people love babies, and having children is an important focus for many men and women.

Why then, do we fail to get our doctors’ help when planning a pregnancy?

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In late April, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault released its long awaited report, "Not Alone." The Task Force is to be commended for doing an excellent job in highlighting this pervasive problem on college campuses, and for providing recommendations for identifying the problem, preventing sexual assault, and increasing transparency and improving enforcement. The task force should also be commended for taking steps to ensure that survivors receive confidential care from advocates and counselors.

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Some pretty important decisions that will affect generations to come are being made right now.

The new regulations on carbon emissions announced this week are, as Brad Plumer writes, the “most sweeping policy yet to address global warming.” States and utilities will need to cut carbon emissions from power generation in order to rein in the gases that cause climate change.

As predictably as morning follows sunrise, these rules are drawing fire in a number of ways.

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After yesterday’s “Super Tuesday” (eight states holding primaries), there remain 28 states with nominating contests on tap, and another six with runoffs. But all of the closely contested Republican Senate primaries that represented most of the national excitement prior to November have come and gone — except for runoffs in Georgia and yes, improbable as it might have seemed, in Mississippi.

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The state of Wisconsin spent last week in court defending a new law requiring every doctor who performs abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. This new major limit on abortion rights — which could cause clinics to close around the state — was signed into law in July of 2013 but was blocked by a federal judge from going into effect while litigation played out in court.

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Thomas Piketty’s analysis of inequality through the ages kicked off an important debate about the causes of and solutions to the problem of the increased concentration of wealth and income. Central to Piketty’s economic mechanics is his assumption that, barring some cataclysm, wealth will increasingly accumulate to those at the top of scale as long as its rate of return (the rate at which wealth holdings appreciate) exceeds the economy’s growth rate. From this diagnosis, his prescription is redistribution through the tax code. This certainly falls out of his model: once you accept the inevitability of narrowly held wealth accumulation, the only solution is to tax and redistribute.

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As director of a graduate program in climate science and policy, every day I look into the faces of my 24 year-old students, and think about the world 30 years from now. In 2044, I will be an old man — 84 — and my students will be my age now, 54. At that time, in a very profound way, we will know the future of the earth.

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President Obama’s EPA will issue proposed greenhouse gas limits for existing power plants. By all accounts the rules will be a remarkable step forward in the fight against global warming, with the U.S. finally demonstrating significant leadership on an issue on which it has lagged behind for more than a decade. And yet from what we know about the proposed rules, they are market and business-friendly in a way that press accounts so far have yet to emphasize.

Megan Herzog has already done a terrific job describing the proposed rules and their potential legal vulnerability here. My own view is that EPA is on solid legal ground in moving away from a traditional plant-by-plant basis of regulation and instead allowing states to meet statewide emissions limits through a variety of mechanisms, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, demand response and cap-and-trade. In fact in the most recent pronouncement from the Supreme Court about EPA’s ability to regulate, the Court, joined by six justices including Chief Justice John Roberts, emphasized the discretion the agency should have to resolve ambiguous provisions of the Clean Air Act:

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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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