Inslee: Trump, GOP, Vulnerable on Climate

July 29, 2019

Pay attention. Republicans are.

That’s why the President chose, bizarrely, to make a speech devoted to his environmental record recently – not something any Republican, much less this one, is known for. (he spoke for most of an hour and did not mention climate..)
They are more than nervous – and there are many disasters in the pipeline between here and November 2020…

Jay Inslee in the New York Times:

I’ve heard it my whole career, from pundits, special interests and even political consultants: Just shut up about climate change if you want to be elected. They set up a false dichotomy between the economy and the environment, saying you can’t fight for good jobs and for clean air.

That was bad advice then, and it’s even worse advice now. There is a change happening: Americans really feel climate change in their daily lives — and they are demanding leadership from their politicians like never before. 

In my campaign, I’ve seen how climate change — and the coal, oil and gas industries fueling it — have become personal problems for many families. 

I met Marsha Maus, who showed me the pile of melted aluminum that once was her mobile home in Agoura Hills, Calif. — before a wildfire tore through town. I spoke with Regina Haddock, whose life work of helping domestic violence victims was swept away in a flood in Davenport, Iowa. And I heard from Shamar Pitts, who shared his worries about raising his newborn daughter near the pollution of an oil refinery in Philadelphia.

The science is clear: We must take major action to reduce carbon pollution in the next decade, or our communities and our children’s lives will suffer dramatic and irreparable harm. The next president will choose whether America leads the world in building a clean energy economy, or we leave our communities facing turmoil and destruction. Climate change cost the United States economy at least $240 billion per year during the past decade, and that figure is projected to rise to $360 billion per year in the coming 10 years. We cannot afford the costs of inaction.

So it is time for Democrats to ignore the standard inside-the-Beltway thinking that talking about the environment risks electoral defeat. The politics of climate change have changed. And the clearest proof point comes from an unlikely source: President Donald Trump himself.

Earlier this month, in a bizarre news conference, Mr. Trump claimed that one of his priorities has been to ensure that America has the cleanest air and water in the world — ignoring his record of environmental damage. He has effectively handed the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency over to the fossil fuel industry, eliminated vital environmental protections and opened our coasts and public lands to drilling at the exact moment we need to stop burning fossil fuels and urgently transition to clean energy.

So, why would the president give a big speech lying about his record on the environment? Because he is scared.

He knows that climate change is his weak spot. According to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, only 29 percent of Americans approve of Mr. Trump’s position on climate change, while 62 percent disapprove — a wider gulf than on any other issue polled. And Mr. Trump’s own internal polling says his terrible record pillaging the environment is a huge obstacle to his re-election.

Americans see climate change in the floodwater in their homes, the choking smoke from wildfires that envelop their skies and the devastating storms that hit their communities each year. They want us to act. 

They also know we can transform our energy systems and create millions of good, family-wage and union jobs by building a clean-energy economy. They know that our nation can rise to this challenge — that we’re still the America capable of accomplishing big things, just as we did when we defeated fascism, put a man on the moon and created the internet age.

My candidacy is unique: No other presidential candidate has said that defeating climate change must be our nation’s top priority. My plan will launch a national mobilization to move America to 100 percent clean energy, create eight million jobs, end our addiction to fossil fuels, ensure a just economic transition for fossil fuel workers, assist the communities who are being hit worst by this crisis, and commit to a more ambitious Paris climate agreement.

Putting climate first is critical: History shows us that if an issue is not the top priority of an administration, it’s not likely to get done. I love being governor of Washington. But on my last day on earth, I want to be able to look my grandchildren in their eyes and say I did everything I could to solve the climate crisis.

We will defeat Donald Trump by attacking his failures on climate change, not by running from the issue.


Jay Inslee is running for president as the climate change candidate.

But the two-term Washington governor can credibly claim to have accomplished more than most of his peers on health care, a key issue in the 2020 campaign.

He created both the nation’s first public option and universal long-term care benefit — albeit a limited one — has run a successful Obamacare market, and expanded reproductive rights. His administration has also pushed forward a new plan for controlling drug costs, expanded Medicaid coverage to transgender patients and added programs for school children aimed at preventing chronic diseases later in life.

In another time, Inslee would be running on his health care record, his campaign said. But not now. Inslee, who is among the many Democratic presidential candidates in the crowded field struggling to crack 1 percent in the polls, said he doesn’t have any second thoughts about staking his long-shot bid on tackling climate change, even if that overshadows his health policy accomplishments.

“Those things … become relatively moot if the entire ecosystem collapses on which human life depends,” Inslee told POLITICO earlier this month. “This is a unique issue. It is unique because our survival literally depends upon it.”

But by declaring himself the climate change candidate, Inslee may be missing a chance to define himself on health care, an issue that’s divided the Democratic field. The front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, has promoted a government-run public option that would preserve the private insurance system, while Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” plan that would virtually abolish private insurance has animated progressives.

While the debate for now is about what could be done, Inslee can boast he actually got something done.

“I respect everybody’s goals and plans here, but we do have one candidate that’s actually advanced the ball,” Inslee said during the first 2020 primary debate last month.

In May, Inslee signed into law the nation’s first public option, set to go live next fall. Under the plan, the Inslee administration will contract with a private insurer to sell coverage on the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange. The state projects that premiums in the public plan will be 5 to 10 percent cheaper that alternatives because of capped payments to doctors and hospitals. That might not translate into a major enrollment boost, and it remains to be seen whether enough providers will participate in the plan.

Inslee also signed legislation making Washington the first state to add a guaranteed long-term care benefit, addressing a growing challenge for an aging population. The law, which in concept is similar to Social Security, creates a payroll tax to offer a $100-per-day allowance for nursing home care, in-home assistance or another community-based option. It’s not enough to fully fund nursing home care, which can top $100,000 per year, but it may ease some financial pressure on families. 

“These two bills are models for the rest of the nation to consider,” Inslee said after signing the legislation.


2 Responses to “Inslee: Trump, GOP, Vulnerable on Climate”

  1. jimbills Says:

    Florida is the big ‘if’ as far as climate change affecting voting. I’m skeptical climate change will be a top factor this election in the Rust Belt swing states. It looks like Ohio has made up their minds.

    Inslee is polling SO low, consistently, but I chalk that up to a lack of personal charisma. I just look at the guy and feel bored. Good for him, and for the nation, to make climate change the key platform position – but he’ll be out of the race in due time.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: