Over the weekend, after the Waxman-Markey climate change bill passed the House by a predictably slim margin, President Obama sat down
with some climate and energy reporters to discuss the state of play of energy reform.
Addressing the political risk some Democrats took by voting for the bill, Obama mocked the GOP for perpetuating a myth that should be familiar to readers of TPMDC. "So are there going to be nay-sayers?" Obama asked. "Absolutely."
Are there going to be short-term instances where you can get political gain by scaring the bejesus out of people and telling them that their electricity rates are going to go up a thousand percent and this is going to be a tax of $3,000 -- even though the studies that they cite the authors of say that these guys are just lying about these costs? Yes. Those political talking points will, in some cases, have some short-term impact.
We've been tracking that talking point for the better part of three months now, and it's a resilient one. It's been debunked both by the author of the study on which it's supposedly based, and by the Congressional Budget Office, but you still see it pop up every now and again. It must focus group extremely well!
In the interview, Obama says that the timing of Senate action on climate is up to Harry Reid and the relevant committee chairs--but that he's confident that they'll pass something, go to committee with the House, and send a final bill to his desk.
Timing isn't everything, of course. But it is crucial. Between health care and the appropriations bills and nominations, the Senate has a pretty busy few months ahead of it--and yet, 2010 is an election year, and getting flagship legislation passed in Congress at times like that can be significantly harder.