Wednesday, February 20, 2013

City's Congressional program acknowledges climate change

I was about to criticize the City of Dallas’ Legislation Program for the 113th Congress, which was briefed to City Council today, for only paying lip service to deficit reduction — and I’m still going to do that — but first I must applaud the city for accepting the reality of global science change.

This is a big step forward for a council that, regardless of how blue the county is trending, is still a rather conservative body. There are Tea Party nuts out there who, regardless of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, absolutely refuse to accept the reality of climate change and many of those right-wingnuts are Congressmen representing the North Central Texas area.

Yet here is the city of Dallas, saying in its Legislation Program: "Although the challenges created by global climate change (emphasis mine), air pollution and energy security are international in scope, local governments are well placed to implement policies and pursue innovations to meet these challenges, especially if they are given the resources to do so."

What the City is saying in this section is basically this: Don’t order us to do anything that reduces greenhouse gases unless you give us the money to carry out those orders.

But the overall message of the program is "Don’t cut any more of our funding." And that’s where I have a problem.

If there is one thing upon which Democrats and Republicans can agree it is that the national deficit must be reduced. Where they disagree, of course, is how to reduce it. The Democrats argue that the deficit should be reduced with a combination of budget cuts and tax increases, primarily by eliminating deductions that benefit only the wealthiest of our citizens and the largest of our profit-making corporations. Republicans, for the most part, want the deficit reduced solely by cutting spending.

It appears to me the City is siding more with the Democrats on this issue. Here is what it had to say on deficit reduction:

"The City of Dallas supports efforts to reduce the federal deficit through a balanced approach (emphasis mine). Elimination of the federal deficit solely through discretionary spending cuts is impossible. Deficit reduction efforts should neither disproportionately focus on core local government programs nor reduce or delay much-needed investments in our nation’s core infrastructure. The reduction of the federal deficit should share the burden evenly and should not disproportionately harm national defense and our troops, safety net programs, or our nation’s cities."

My problem here is a lack of specificity on what the city means by "a balanced approach." That phrase is the one Democrats use to argue for both revenue increases and spending cuts. It appears the City doesn’t want to offend those millionaires here in Dallas, many of whom give money to the City, or the Congressional leaders from the area like Pete Sessions, Joe Barton, Sam Johnson, Jeb Hensarling et al to whom "a balanced approach" is anathema.

So my reaction to the city’s congressional legislative plan, if I was a member of Congress, would be "All well and good, but don’t tell me what not to cut until you give me a viable alternative for reducing the deficit."

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