Letter: Garamendi Shies Away from GND, Criticism

by Mario Salvagno

Tuesday night I finally went to my first congressional town hall. Though decidedly overdue, it was my inaugural experience of this sacrosanct tradition in American politics. Because after all, in this representative democracy, they are yet supposed to listen to & advocate for us in some capacity, no?

I set my expectations low, given the current state of our political apparatus. But low was still a bit too high apparently. From the completely unnecessary and largely irrelevant monologue at the beginning of Garamendi’s (delayed) appearance all the way through to the abrupt & unsatisfactory ending, he never once provided a direct answer to the question of supporting the Green New Deal. In fact, the congressman exclusively referred to it as the “New Green Deal,” which strikes me as possibly intentionally demeaning. I find it incredibly difficult to believe that a longtime Democratic politician could forget and/or miss an opportunity to reference the biggest achievement in the party’s history.

But our 10-year representative was generally more interested in defending his own perceived achievements throughout his career. To be fair, there are some legitimate environmental projects he can point to. However, a recurring theme throughout the night repeated by myself and others was the absolute inadequacy of the entirety of public policy when matched against the all-encompassing threat of climate change.

Garamendi’s quote to The Enterprise was the closest thing to a straight answer he delivered all night, and I doubt any other citizens who attended the town hall heard it either. Talking down to, dodging, and placating one’s constituency is certainly one way to handle an assembly of people to which you are beholden. Whether it is a strong enough strategy to justify brushing off mention of a progressive primary challenger, as he did, remains to be seen.

Vaguely gesturing towards a solar-powered military industrial complex and something about wind turbines, as it just so happens, is no longer an acceptable response. Nor should it ever have been. We are behind schedule, to put it mildly, and WE NEED TO START ACTING LIKE IT. We no longer have time to pat ourselves on the back for previous, stop-gap solutions. Elected representatives do not deserve extra credit for doing the bare minimum in the past. They would do well to remember that they serve at our privilege, and that it is 100% voluntary. This is literally what they sign up for. Now if Congressman Garamendi has a preferred proposal that is also appropriately comprehensive as to the existential challenge we face, he should present it immediately upon return to Washington. Otherwise, it is well past time to listen to constituents and take ambitious action.

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14 Comments

  1. Ron Glick

    Its not easy being green… enough.

     “In fact, the congressman exclusively referred to it as the “New Green Deal,” which strikes me as possibly intentionally demeaning.”

    Maybe the Congressman wasn’t prepared to be confronted on the GND or (ngd) in his case. Maybe he isn’t up to speed. It will be interesting to see if he responds to the town hall by becoming more in tune with his constituents on the issue but I wouldn’t read too much into him reversing the words green and new. I once saw a statewide elected official come to Davis and thank the UC Davis Auggies for honoring him. We still laugh about it but we shrugged it off and voted for the guy when he came up for re-election anyway because he was the best candidate on the ballot.

    Garamendi might have been “intentionally demeaning” or it might have been a dumb mistake. My advise, cut him a little slack on the wording, but hold his feet to the fire on the issue.

  2. Jim Hoch

    What makes you think he is not “in tune” with his constituents now? His constituency is a lot bigger than the people in that room and he is more mature than to think he needs to jump on any passing bus.

  3. Eric Gelber

    I find it incredibly difficult to believe that a longtime Democratic politician could forget and/or miss an opportunity to reference the biggest achievement in the party’s history.

    What “achievement” is that?

    1. Davis4life

      I should have made it clearer that the achievement I was referring to was the namesake New Deal itself. Obviously a nonbinding resolution is not yet an achievement.

      [Moderator: comment posted by Mario, the author of the article]

      1. Bill Marshall

        But his post was accepted under a pseudo-name, and it takes the moderator to clarify… as Arte Johnson’s German soldier character might say, “verrrrry interesting…”

  4. Tia Will

    I agree with Eric on this point. An “achievement” means that something has been accomplished. It is not a set of proposals or a wish list. I am much more concerned about bills sponsored and passed than I am a signature on a non-binding resolution no matter how valid, urgent, and desirable those goals may be.

     

  5. Alan Miller

    I find it incredibly difficult to believe that a longtime Democratic politician could forget and/or miss an opportunity to reference the biggest achievement in the party’s history.

    I really want to fly to the moon.  Flying to the moon is the biggest achievement of my life.

  6. Don Shor

    Political leaders who are working on actual legislation that would affect climate change:

    https://energypolicy.columbia.edu/research/commentary/how-bipartisan-energy-innovation-and-carbon-dividend-act-compares-other-carbon-tax-proposals

     

    • The higher carbon tax rates of Deutch proposal would lead to larger emissions reductions, carbon tax revenues and impacts on energy markets by the late 2020s compared to the other carbon tax proposals.By 2030, carbon tax rates under the Deutch proposal would be at least 60 percent higher than under the Whitehouse and Baker proposals and at least two times higher than under the Curbelo proposal.
    • The Deutch proposal would likely cause emissions to fall below the targets the plan lays out through at least 2030.The legislation targets emissions reductions of 45% below 2015 levels by 2030 (52% below 2005 levels). Analysis of the Whitehouse proposal shows emissions falling 65 to 90 percent of the way to that 2030 target with significantly lower carbon tax rates than the Deutch proposal’s (Larsen et al 2018).
    • The Deutch proposal would rapidly decarbonize the US power sector. The carbon tax rates in the Deutch proposal would provide a substantial boost to low carbon generation sources including solar, wind and nuclear energy, and virtually eliminate the use of coal in the US electricity system by 2030 (Larsen et al. 2018).
    • Under the Deutch proposal, low- and middle-income households would receive more in rebates than they pay in taxes, while high-income households would pay more in taxes than they receive in rebates.A relatively small share of carbon tax payments would come from low- and middle-income households. If these households are given an equal share of the carbon tax revenues, as they would be under the Deutch proposal, the rebates received by the average low- and middle-income households would exceed the additional expenditures of these households due to the higher prices caused by the carbon tax (Rosenberg et al. 2018).
    • Using revenues for rebates under the Deutch plan would sacrifice opportunities for better macroeconomic outcomes or government services.The Whitehouse proposal returns revenues to Americans primarily by cutting the payroll taxes paid by workers, which would boost the economy by encouraging work. The Curbelo proposal allocates the revenue to government programs to support transportation infrastructure, energy innovation, climate change adaptation, and assistance for displaced workers (Diamond and Zodrow 2018, Kaufman and Gordon 2018).

    The article continues: “The Deutch proposal follows other carbon tax proposals in 2018 by Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) and congressional Democrats in February and by Representative Curbelo (R-FL) and congressional Republicans in July.[1] While not yet proposed as formal legislation, the carbon tax proposal of the Climate Leadership Council, authored by James Baker and George Shultz (“Baker proposal”), also garnered considerable attention in 2018.[2]”

  7. Mario Salvagno

    Democracy can still happen after all, folks! Garamendi announced on his facebook page that he is cosponsoring HR 109.

    The path forward is long & difficult, but I must remind the pessimists among us that we face no bigger problem today and going forward. Unfortunately incrementalism, and pessimism itself, are luxuries we can no longer afford.

    I hope everyone will join me in feeling thankful for having a representative willing to respond to new information & public opinion.

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