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Build Back Better about to pass one more hurdle

You sure gotta climb a lot of steps to get to this Capitol Building


By golly we’re going to grow our way out of limits to growth: Diamond Joe Biden took a spin in the moderately-high-polygon-count electron-guzzling “weighs as much as a Model X with a Honda CR-V strapped to the roof” Hummer EV on Wednesday, because We Are America Dammit And Our Bright Green Future Requires Man Tanks.1

Speaking of that Bright Green Future With Man Tanks: This morning, House Democrats will finally manage to pass the Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376 (full text), As Amended (full text)), whose Green New Deal-inspired components are a signature accomplishment given our political system and a depressing failure given what our citizens and our climate need to survive.

And we still get to have at least one more round of the Joe Manchin Show in the U.S. Senate all the way through Thanksgiving, perhaps to yet again strip out a few more climate and social justice elements and stuff in some corporate subsidies and polluter handouts. It’s not easy to become a law, is it?

Again, being serious here: there’s a lot in Build Back Better that is amazing and potentially transformative. Universal pre-kindergarten! Hundreds of billions of dollars for climate, clean energy, and environmental justice! New taxes on billionaires! Making insulin affordable! Civilian Climate Corps!

Also serious: The stripped-down, larded up BBB has some awful provisions, including the $280 billion SALT cap repeal, support for out-of-control logging, and a wild expansion of the 45Q subsidies for carbon capture projects that have always been and will always be straight giveaways to the fossil-fuel industry.

To be clear, the American people have been doing their civic duty; a strong majority have been voting for decades for politicians who promise to go to Washington to solve global warming.

And yet we still don’t have the politics to actually turn the ship of state away from the giant flaming iceberg of fossil-fueled climate destabilization.

Speaking of that fossil-fuel industry, the signs are all around us (and if you live in D.C., I mean that literally) of how their influence has corrupted our politics to this satirically stupid point. Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes constructed an exhibition of 60 years of carbon-industry propaganda that run to this day in outlets such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, and the Washington Post.2

Seriously, read this story.

(Special shout out to the new contenders for most fossil-corrupt media outlets, Axios and Politico.)

Speaking of Real Tanks: While the House worked into the night on BBB, the Senate worked into the night to shovel a giant pile of money into the fossil-fueled War Machine.

In summary, Biden’s Electric Man-Tank Show is a hell of a lot better than the GOP Anime-Fascist Show and (let’s not forget) the Billionaire Penislord Show, but it’s still performatively macho and grossly insufficient by any reasonable standard. Maybe, if we are lucky and we work hard enough, we can change grossly insufficient into the first step of a long and tough march together to a better tomorrow.3

1. To be sure, it’s a real plus that these Man Tanks are union-made. Unionize Tesla!

2. Their piece was published by The Guardian, which not coincidentally is the only mainstream publication that has a policy against accepting fossil-fuel ads.

3. I’m speaking of “we” here as a humanist universalist.

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