The landmark federal climate bill called the Inflation Reduction Act, adopted last year without a single Republican vote when Democrats held majorities in both chambers of Congress, has a long way to go before we can determine its full success or failure.
On the other hand, as discussed on today's BradCast, if it is going well, but few Americans know it's going well --- as corporate broadcast media spend nearly 24 hours a day on various crises both manufactured and real (ironically, many caused by climate change!) --- can it or will it make a difference in next year's elections? [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
But, FIRST UP today, one (or more) of those manufactured crises. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's desperate attempt on Tuesday to win over his own far-right caucus in the House by unilaterally declaring an impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden doesn't seem to be going over very well. He had to break his own vow, made just 11 days ago, to do it only after a full vote of the House. It doesn't seem to be winning over enough colleagues to help him avoid a federal Government shutdown at the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1. And even fellow Republicans in the U.S. Senate apparently see no evidence of High Crimes or Misdemeanors by the President to warrant impeachment.
On the other hand, he hasn't been pushed out of Speaker job by his own party this week...yet. So there's that!
NEXT: Biden and the Democrats' landmark Inflation Reduction Act --- featuring the largest single investment in history in climate change mitigation and clean energy manufacturing and jobs --- is now one year old. It has already begun to "turbocharging" a massive investment in new manufacturing plants and jobs in the U.S. to help reduce fossil fuel carbon emissions causing our climate crisis. It will soon be funding billions of dollars in home improvement projects to allow low and middle-income homeowners to electrify, solarize, upgrade and simply increase energy efficiency to save money. (NOTE: Not currently applicable in states like Florida, Kentucky, Iowa or South Dakota, apparently, which have failed to join the federal program to help their own residents save money and improve their home values while fighting climate change.)
Our guest today to discuss all of this is the great DAVID ROBERTS, longtime climate, energy and politics journalist and podcaster at Volts.WTF. We last spoke to him a year ago, just after passage of the critical legislation.
He explains today that it is still "too early to tell" whether the legislation is a success or not given all of its many practical objectives, which include vastly lowering emissions, creating millions of good paying jobs, sparking a manufacturing renaissance in the U.S. to bring supply chains home for renewable energy technology and overtaking China's dominance in the sector.
"Because the IRA's goals are so vast," Roberts explains, "it will only be over the course of five to ten years that we really have any understanding of whether it pulled it off. It's trying to do enormous things."
"What we definitely can say," however, is "that one of the goals --- which was to spur private investment into these products and supply chains in the U.S. --- is absolutely working. Last I looked, it's like $270 billion-worth of private investment flooding into the U.S."
But the yardstick for success here may be even longer than you think, according to Roberts. He tells me there is yet another goal for the legislation that is "not as public, but, if you talk to some Biden people behind the scenes, they will tell you that this apocalyptic terror you have about the future of democracy is not crazy."
"We are in a perilous, perilous moment. And part of the thinking behind IRA was that it is these parts of the country that were hollowed out by globalization, hollowed out by decades of reflexive 'free trade' dogma --- it's these parts of the county that have experienced this reactionary backlash that we've all been living through over the past little while. And if that goes on, U.S. democracy is in serious, existential trouble. People are freaked out about that all the way to the top. So, part of the goal of IRA was to channel investment into those areas. And that is happening."
Roberts says that much of the new investment "is coming into Southern and Midwestern states," including by companies like First Solar, which is "investing $1.2 billion into a facility in Louisiana. That is the single largest private investment in that state's history." Similar projects are happening in states like Georgia, West Virginia and elsewhere.
So, all we need to assess success of this enormous new law is whether it helps solves both of the nation's most existential crises: Democracy and Climate Change.
"Spurring investment, yes, it is succeeding. Is it succeeding in muting that reactionary backlash? Is it succeeding in muting these horrendous politics we've dealt with? Is it succeeding in turning a few swing voters in those swing states to help Joe Biden get back into office? That we don't know yet. And part of the problem is that our media ecosystem is broken and dysfunctional, and people just don't know about [the law]."
How to solve that? Well, as you can tell, we've got much to discuss today with Roberts along those lines as well, as he characterizes that part of issue as "the six million question" given "how broken the media is, and how difficult it is to get it to focus on these things."
He's got a few ideas, however, some involve "a huge role for NGOs, for the green movement" and even for you, as the climate, economic and political effects of the IRA one year on are still "TBD"...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)