JanF

Democratic Party Principles: An Energy Program for the Future

Senate Democrats unveiled their energy bill this past Tuesday.

There is not much hope that the bill will be passed and signed into law but it is an important step in defining where Democrats stand on energy and the environment:

“Today’s announcement should send a clear signal that it is a top priority for Senate Democrats to invest in our nation’s energy future and address climate change before it’s too late,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) at a Tuesday press conference. The legislation “is a technology driven pathway to a clean energy future,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) who sponsored the bill, dubbed the “American Energy Innovation Act of 2015.”

SenateDemocratsEnergy

Though it would not set a price on carbon emissions, like the failed cap-and-trade bill from five years ago, her bill does contain many provisions intended to accelerate the shift to a low-carbon economy, and sets a more ambitious carbon target than the White House.

It is important to establish what Democrats are for in order to help voters understand that there is a real difference between the two national parties:

“At a time when the majority in Congress is seemingly at the beck and call of the fossil fuel industry, legislation like this … lays out clear clean energy priorities, offering a blueprint for the kind of energy policy that actually represents what the American public actually wants and reflects the direction the market and the nation are actually going,” Sierra Club legislative director, Melinda Pierce, told ThinkProgress. Pierce said that it would not be surprising to see some parts of the bill adapted into other bills that would have a better chance of passage.

This past week, Democratic Party candidate for president Hillary Clinton announced her energy plan, which began with her stating her opposition to building the Keystone Pipeline. She is the second Democratic candidate to release a plan (Martin O’Malley also released one).

Clinton had long refused to take a public stance on Keystone, a project that was first filed with the State Department during her tenure as Secretary of State. But the increasingly-visible threat of climate change, Clinton wrote in an essay published today on Medium, caused her to finally release an official position on the proposed pipeline, which would bring tar sands crude from Canada to Nebraska.

“We shouldn’t be building a pipeline dedicated to moving North America’s dirtiest fuel through our communities — we should be focused on what it will take to make America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century,” Clinton said in the essay. “Building a clean, secure, and affordable North American energy future is bigger than Keystone XL or any other single project. That’s what I will focus on as president.” […]

“American energy policy is about more than a single pipeline to transport Canada’s dirtiest fuel across our country,” Clinton wrote. “It’s about building our future — a future where the United States will once again lead the world by constructing state-of-the-art infrastructure, creating new jobs and new markets, accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy, and improving the health, safety, and security of all Americans.”

Secretary Clinton’s full statement on Keystone and her plan is below the fold.

Cherry-picking Pope Francis’ Address to Congress

Well, at least I am honest about it!

Pope Francis spoke to a joint session of Congress this morning.

PopesAddress
(CSPAN Video)

The audience included some of the justices of the Supreme Court but not the ones (Catholics Scalia, Thomas, and Alito) who won’t submit to lecturing by THIS pope in case he would dare to talk about things like corporate greed, climate change, the poors, and the death penalty. And he did!

I don’t agree with everything this pope says but I welcome his words that encourage people to join with those of us who care about people, justice, and our endangered planet.

Selected quotes …

Viola Davis: “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else … is opportunity”

I don’t watch television so I did not follow the Emmy Award Ceremony last night. But I do follow the news and when this video showed up in my newsfeed this morning, it begged to be shared.

Viola Davis plays a law professor in the TV show “How to Get Away With Murder”. On Sunday night, she won an Emmy, the first black woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a dramatic series.

Transcript:

‘In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.’

“That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.

“So, here’s to all the writers, the awesome people that are Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes. People who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.

“And to the Taraji P Hensons and Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goodes, to Gabrielle Union. Thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you for the Television Academy. Thank you.”

Some people were not happy about this … because racism is not a thing in America, and what about white women????

Trending on Twitter: Viola Davis’ Emmy Speech

ViolaDavis

President Obama speaks at the Congressional Black Caucus Dinner (Updated with Transcript)

Saturday evening, President Obama spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 45th Annual Legislative Conference Phoenix Awards Dinner.

(Transcript below the fold)

WaPo:

President Obama pressed on Saturday night for a greater focus on helping black women who are more likely to be stuck in minimum wage jobs, have higher rates of illness and face higher rates of incarceration than other women. […]

Obama described the important and too often anonymous role that black women played during the civil rights movement and praised the recent push to put a black woman’s picture on the $10 bill. But he insisted that such symbolic actions fell short of what was needed. “We’ve got to make sure they are getting some ten dollar bills,” he said, “that they are getting paid properly.” […]

Obama made the case for better job training and more mentorship programs to encourage women of color to pursue careers in math and science.

Weekly Address: President Obama – It’s Time for Congress To Pass a Responsible Budget

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President discussed the significant progress we have made in our economy since the financial crisis seven years ago this week, and the steps we can take to build on that momentum and strengthen the economy for the long term. Thanks to the hard work and resilience of folks around the country, our businesses have created over 13 million jobs over the past 66 straight months, housing is bouncing back, manufacturing is growing again, and the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in over seven years. We’ve come a long way from the darkest days of the financial crisis, but there is still more to be done. To keep our economy growing, we must avoid self-inflicted wounds and damaging brinksmanship: that starts with Congress passing a responsible budget before the end of the month. The President has called on Republicans in Congress to stop playing games with our economic progress and instead do its job and pass a budget that reverses the harmful cuts known as the sequester and avoids shutting down the federal government.

President Obama: “Don’t play chicken with our economy!”

On Wednesday, President Obama spoke at a gathering of the Business Roundtable, an “association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote sound public policy and a thriving U.S. economy.” The president had some strong words for those who want to shut down the government over their ideology.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

[The] fact is, what I’ve called middle-class economics has been good for business. Corporate profits have hit an all-time high. Slowing health care prices and plummeting energy costs have helped your bottom lines. Manufacturing is growing at the fastest clip in about two decades. Our workforce is more educated than ever before. The stock market has more than doubled since 2009, and 2015 is on pace to be the year with the highest consumer confidence since 2004. And America’s technological entrepreneurs have continued to make incredible products that are changing our lives rapidly.

Now, you wouldn’t know any of this if you were listening to the folks who are seeking this office that I occupy. (Laughter.)

In the echo chamber that is presidential politics, everything is dark and everything is terrible. They don’t seem to offer many solutions for the disasters that they perceive -– but they’re quick to tell you who to blame.

I’m here to say that there’s nothing particularly patriotic or American about talking down America, especially when we stand as one of the few sources of economic strength in the world. […]

Democrats are ready to sit down and negotiate with Republicans right now, today, as we speak. But it should be over legitimate questions of spending and revenue –- not unrelated ideological issues. You’ll recall that two years ago Republicans shut down the government because they didn’t like Obamacare. Today, some are suggesting the government should be shut down because they don’t like Planned Parenthood. That’s not good sense and it’s not good business. The notion that we’d play chicken with an $18 trillion economy and global markets that are already skittish all because of an issue around a women’s health provider that receives less than 20 cents out of every thousand dollars in the federal budget, that’s not good policymaking.

The last time Republicans shut down the government, it cost our economy billions of dollars; consumer confidence plummeted. I don’t think anybody here thinks that’s going to be good for your business.

It is not good for business … or labor or, really, any segment of society other than those who fundraise off lies and who could not care less who suffers as long as the outrage fuels their own political careers.

One of these days, the members of the Business Roundtable, and the Chamber of Commerce, will realize that business needs a rational governmental presence and that the nihilism promoted by the Republican Party is NOT in their best interests. For all of our sakes, I hope that day comes sooner rather than later.

Congress has 11 days to pass a budget or to pass a Continuing Resolution to fund the government until a budget can be agreed upon.

The clock is ticking …

(Transcript below the fold).

From the White House: Faster FAFSA – Helping Make College More Affordable

On Monday, President Obama traveled to Des Moines Iowa to talk about FAFSA. What is FAFSA, you ask? I asked it and found the answer on the Internets! FAFSA is “Free Application for Federal Student Aid” and is the form that parents and kids need to fill out to get federal aid for college.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

… here’s the thing — just as higher education has never been more important, let’s face it, it’s never been more expensive. And that’s why [Secretary of Education] Arne [Duncan] and I have been working to try to make college and post-high school education more affordable. We’ve increased scholarships. We reformed our student loan system that funneled billions of taxpayer dollars into big banks — we said, let’s cut out the middleman, let’s put that money directly to students. We created a new tax credit of up to $2,500 to help working families pay for tuition and books and fees. We’re helping people cap their federal student loan payments at 10 percent of their income. So if you want to be a teacher, or you want to be a social worker, or some other profession that may not make a huge amount of money, you can still do that, knowing that you’re not going to go — you’re still going to be able to afford to support yourself and your family while doing it. And we’re fighting for two years of free community college for any student that’s willing to work for it. (Applause.)

The bottom line is, is that no young person in America should be priced out of college. They should not be priced out of an education.

(Transcript below the fold)

FACT SHEET: FACT SHEET: The President’s Plan for Early Financial Aid: Improving College Choice and Helping More Americans Pay for College

A higher education is one of the most important investments Americans can make in their future. To help students and families make that investment, the Obama Administration has taken steps to make it easier than ever before to apply for and access federal grants and loans. […]

The President will announce a new initiative to allow students and families to apply for financial aid earlier – starting in October as the college application process gets underway – rather than in January. In addition, students filling out the FAFSA will be able to electronically retrieve tax information filed for an earlier year, rather than waiting until tax season to complete their applications. Learning about aid eligibility options much earlier in the college application and decision process will allow students and families to determine the true cost of attending college – taking available financial aid into account – and make more informed decisions.

Weekly Address: President Obama – A New College Scorecard

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President announced the launch of a new College Scorecard, meant to help students and parents identify which schools provide the biggest bang for your buck. Designed with input from those who will use it most, the Scorecard offers reliable data on factors important to prospective students, such as how much graduates earn, and how much debt they have when they graduate. In an economy where some higher education is still the surest ticket to the middle class, the choices that Americans make when searching for and selecting a college have never been more important. That’s why the President is committed to making sure there exists reliable information that helps students find the college that best fits their needs so that they can succeed.

THE COLLEGE SCORECARD

| READ THE FACT SHEET