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Obama Starts the Big Lift

June 2, 2010

(Not actually taken today.)

Because a certain amount of Democrats in the Senate represent coal states, passing any climate bill through Congress was always going to be a big lift, a bigger lift than the healthcare bill. Most Americans support a climate bill, especially since the Gulf spill began, so it’s always been in the Democrats’ interest to pass a climate bill, just not in the interest of coal state senators. Since Republicans will not vote for anything that Obama supports, the Democrats will have to display some sterling party discipline (and much better than they’ve done previously). Even with that party discipline, Democrats would need at least some support from Republicans (likely from the Northeast).

Obama has the persuasive power to get those votes. Today, in a speech that was laudable for many other reasons, he committed himself to getting those votes:

I want you to know, the votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months.

The problem here is only in the Senate, our nondemocratic chamber that doesn’t reflect the will of the American people. The House passed a climate bill last summer, reflecting the wishes of the American people. Obama is going to have to get involved to get a bill through the Senate. Without him, it’ll be impossible. I’m glad he’s going to start throwing his weight around.

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