Apples and Oranges

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Dave Roberts:

I’m sure Steve Mufson and Juliet Eilperin didn’t choose the headline, but whoever did, I think it’s a real mistake to refer to the Kerry-Boxer bill as “a bit more ambitious” than its Waxman-Markey counterpart in the House. This became conventional wisdom almost immediately, but it seems to me both wrong and pernicious — the more Kerry-Boxer is seen as a leftward move from the House bill, the more senators who want to be seen as moderate will want to be seen hacking it down.

Dave’s argument is that Kerry-Boxer’s emissions reduction target is only slightly tighter than Waxman-Markey’s (20% vs. 17%) and that when you compare apples to apples, it’s really more like 18% or 19%.  It’s a pretty tiny difference, and the rest of the bill is pretty clearly weaker than Waxman-Markey.  Taken as a whole, it’s less ambitious, not more.

But I’d go further.  The real difference between the two bills is that Waxman-Markey has already gone through the sausage factory and Kerry-Boxer hasn’t.  It’s easy for a draft of a bill to be ambitious, but not so easy for it to stay ambitious by the time it gets to a floor vote.  Comparing a draft to a finished bill is like comparing a fantasy football team to the Pittsburgh Steelers.  It’s kind of ridiculous to compare them at all at this stage.

POSTSCRIPT: And while we’re on the subject, yes, global warming is still real.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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