Joe Biden announced a new plan on Tuesday to spend $2 trillion over the course of four years to reduce fossil fuel use across the United States and create jobs. The plan connects tackling climate change with the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis as well as addressing racism.
What We Know:
- In a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden built on his plans for reviving the economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, with a new focus on enhancing the nation’s infrastructure and emphasizing the importance of significantly cutting fossil fuel emissions. “These are the most critical investments we can make for the long-term health and vitality of both the American economy and the physical health and safety of the American people,” Biden said. “When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is ‘hoax’. When I think about climate change, the word I think of is ‘jobs’.” Biden’s plan includes initiatives to significantly escalate the use of clean energy in the transportation, electricity, and building sectors.
- The climate plan is so far the second piece of Biden’s platform for economic recovery. Throughout his speech, Biden and his team took aim at President Donald Trump who has struggled to deliver on his pledges to pay for major improvements to American infrastructure. “Seems like every few weeks when he needs a distraction from the latest charges of corruption in his staff, or the conviction of high-ranking members of the administration and political apparatus, the White House announces, quote, ‘It’s Infrastructure Week’,” Biden said. “He’s never delivered. Never really even tried. Well, I know how to get it done.”
- In his remarks, Biden sought to signal that he understands the urgency of global climate challenges while also casting the issue as the next great test of American ingenuity. “I know meeting the challenge would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jolt new life into our economy, strengthen our global leadership, protect our planet for future generations,” Biden said. “If I have the honor of being elected president, we’re not just going to tinker around the edges. We’re going to make historic investments that will seize the opportunity, meet this moment in history.”
- Before Biden spoke, Trump’s allies painted the plan as a costly threat to jobs in the energy sector and Trump’s campaign sought to link the proposal to the far-reaching previous climate plan known as the Green New Deal. During an appearance in the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday, Trump began a rambling attack on his opponent while also seeking to portray Biden and his environmental plan as radical. “Biden’s agenda is the most extreme platform of any major party nominee, by far, in American history,” Trump said. “I think it’s worse than actually Bernie’s [Sanders] platform.”
- Biden does not face overwhelmingly acceptance from the democratic party as many liberals have been unenthusiastic about his candidacy as he opposes a range of progressives’ top priorities like “Medicare for all” or defunding the police. But his climate plan does appear to have helped his platform with progressive Democrats. Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, a prominent environmentalist, called the proposal “visionary”.
- The plan outlines specific and aggressive targets, including achieving an emissions-free power sector by 2035 and upgrading four million buildings over four years to meet the highest standards for energy efficiency. In the plan, Biden discussed converting government vehicles into electric vehicles as well as a general overhaul of the American auto industry to push Americans toward more hybrid and electric cars. Biden promised that “the U.S. auto industry and its deep bench of suppliers will step up, expanding capacity so that the United States, not China, leads the world in clean vehicle production” to fulfill promises of “America First” job policies. The 14-page plan also commits to creating one million new jobs in the auto industry, including parts and materials manufacturing for electric vehicles, millions of union jobs to build infrastructure, one million jobs to upgrade four million buildings over four years, additional construction jobs for 1.5 million new sustainable housing units, and 250,000 jobs “plugging abandoned oil and natural gas wells and reclaiming abandoned coal, hard rock, and uranium mines.”
- Biden also addresses racism in this climate plan. He expressed the need to link environmental advocacy to racial justice, describing how pollution and other toxic harms that disproportionately affect communities of color. The climate plan calls for establishing an office of environmental and climate justice at the Justice Department and developing a broad set of tools to address how “environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of color.” Biden set a goal within the plan for disadvantaged communities to receive 40 percent of all clean energy and infrastructure benefits he was proposing. He also made explicit references to tribal communities and called for expanding broadband access to tribal lands.
- Biden’s original climate plan called for spending $1.7 trillion over 10 years with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions before 2050. The new blueprint plan significantly increases the amount of money and accelerates the timetable. Senior Biden campaign officials said the proposal was the product of discussions with climate activists and experts, union officials and representatives from the private sector, and mayors and governors. In order to pay for it, campaign officials said, Biden proposes an increase in the corporate income tax rate from 21 percent to 86 percent, “asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share,” and using some still-undetermined amount of stimulus money.
- The legislation would require congressional cooperation as the proposal included a combination of executive actions and legislation. If Republicans maintain control of the Senate or retake the House of Representatives, the plan might face a difficult path in the current partisan political environment. Representative Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana and the House Republican whip, suggested the plan was a boondoggle.
- Campaign officials said they expected to achieve the goal for a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions throughout the economy by 2050 by encouraging the installation of “millions of new solar panels and tens of thousands of wind turbines.” The plan also intended to keep existing nuclear energy plants in place.
The economy, and by extension the climate plan, is expected to be a key theme of the 2020 US presidential election as fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has pushed tens of millions of Americans into unemployment. The election is due to be held on November 3.
Georgia Sets New Early Voting Record for Senate Runoffs
Early voting for the two Georgia Senate races began on December 14th. So far, the turnout has been unbelievable and record-breaking.
What We Know:
- As of Dec. 18th, over 1.1 million ballots have been cast in early voting for this Senate runoff election. These twin U.S. Senate runoff elections, as Reuters calls it, will determine which party controls that chamber of Congress. Voting in the Senate runoffs, which are taking place because no candidate won 50% support on Nov. 3rd. State data published on Friday showed the number of accepted ballots was just below the level seen at the same point in early voting for November’s election.
- According to MSN, roughly 168,000 Georgians went to the polls on Monday, the first day to vote early in-person in the state’s two critical Senate runoff elections, according to numbers provided by the Georgia secretary of state’s office. By comparison, some 128,000 voted on the first day of early voting for the November general election. Another 314,000 people cast absentee ballots on the first day of the early-voting period. The first-day early in-person turnout broke a record previously set in October when early in-person voting began for the 2020 general election.
- The runoff’s Democratic challengers are Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff against Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, respectively. Perdue won more votes than Ossoff in November, while Warnock won more than Loeffler in a 20-candidate field that also included Republican Congressman Doug Collins. Loeffler and Collins together drew nearly 46% of the vote, according to Reuters.
- The party control of the Senate is at stake in this runoff election. Republicans currently hold a 50-48 seat edge in the upper chamber. If Democrats win in the Georgia runoffs, this will hand them an evenly divided chamber, in which Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would cast the tie-breaking vote. If both Democrats lose, President-elect Joe Biden will be forced to work with a divided Congress and may not be able to implement his agenda.
Early voting will take place up until December 31st, and election day will be held on January 5th. Georgians still have a few more days to get out and cast their in-person votes. In addition, absentee ballots may still be mailed in before December 31st. To view your sample ballot, find your polling place, or verify that you’re properly registered to vote, log in to the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page.
WSJ Columnist Writes Misogynistic Op-Ed About Dr. Jill Biden
The Wall Street Journal was widely criticized over the weekend for publishing a column by Joseph Epstein where he wrote “misogynistic views,” suggesting soon-to-be first lady Jill Biden should stop using her doctorate title.
What We Know:
- Epstein begins the article by writing, “Madame First Lady–Mrs. Biden–Jill–kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the ‘Dr.’ before your name? ‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic.”
- Jill Biden has spent most of her life educating and holds multiple degrees, including a doctoral degree from the University of Delaware. Her “Dr.” title is noted in all of her public profiles and usually what she is referred to in the media. In the article, Epstein regarded this as “fraudulent, even comic.”
- In attempts to discredit and undermine the numerous achievements Dr. Biden has received, Epstein writes to the WSJ to argue that the prestige of post-graduate titles has been diminished by lack of academic rigor.
“Such degrees were once given exclusively to scholars, statesmen, artists, and scientists. Then rich men entered the lists, usually hoping that they would donate money to the schools that had granted them their honorary degrees … Famous television journalists, who passed themselves off as intelligent, followed. Entertainers, who didn’t bother feigning intelligence, were next,” he wrote.
- In response to the column, Jill Biden tweeted, “Together, we will build a world where the accomplishments of our daughters will be celebrated, rather than diminished.” Her response is among several across social media from icons such as Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Meghan McCain, the daughter of late Republican senator John McCain and a commentator on the morning talk show “The View.”
- Paul A. Gigot, the top editor for The Journal’s opinion section for nearly two decades, deemed the media’s response to the column as a political strategy, stating, “There’s nothing like playing the race or gender card to stifle criticism,” as he accused Democrats of coordinated the mass of responses following the publication.
- This is not the first wave of criticism received by the WSJ over their op-eds. According to The Washington Post, members of The Journal’s newsroom have sent letters criticizing Journal columns at least three times this year.
In just one month, nearly 300 employees sent a letter to The Journal’s publisher, Almar Latour, identifying a “lack of fact-checking and transparency” on the opinion desk.
Black Lives Matter Signs Burned at D.C. Churches; Police Investigate as Possible Hate Crimes
An investigation has begun into the burning of Black lives Matter signs at historic Black churches in Washington, D.C., during a pro-Trump rally this weekend.
What We Know:
- The incident will be investigated as a hate crime, and the police are looking for information on the events that occurred on Saturday. The burning of signs occurred at Asbury United Methodist Church, founded in 1836, and Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, where Frederick Douglass’ funeral was held in 1895.
- The protest is in reaction to the Supreme court tossing a Texas lawsuit and pushing for the changing election results n five swing states, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Nevada.
- Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted on Sunday, “This weekend, we saw forces of hate seeking to use destruction and intimidation to tear us apart… We will not let that happen, and continue to stand together strong and United to Love.”
- According to NBC News, Asbury’s senior pastor, the Reverend Lanther Mills, stated the pro-Trump supporters removed a Black Lives Matter and literally burned it in the street. Mills compares the incident to that of the burning of crosses during the days of Jim Crow.
“We are as people of faith. As horrible and disturbing as this is for us now, it doesn’t compare with the challenges and fears the men and women who started Ashbury faced 184 years ago faced,” stated Mills.
- “So we will move forward, undaunted in our assurance that Black Lives Matter, and we are obligated to continue to shout that truth. We are assured that our church is surrounded by God’s grace and mercy,” he added.
During the protest in Olympia, Washington, 4 people were stabbed, and one person was shot in the clash between Trump supporters and counterprotesters.
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