C&S Hiring an Intern

Insider Reporting and New Media Intern

The Carrots and Sticks Project is a new organization that emerged from the principles and vision of the 2008 presidential campaign. We are a grassroots DC-based action tank committed to rebuilding America’s physical, economic and democratic infrastructure through direct engagement with Congress. Our areas of focus include but are not limited to: green transportation, climate change policy, progressive budget and tax policy, and financial market reform.

We seek enthusiastic and talented young progressives who want to help make the change agenda a reality. The Insider Reporting and New Media Intern will cover congressional hearings and other events around DC, write about policy issues of your interest on the Carrots and Sticks blog and elsewhere, help compile the congressional committee schedule each week and perform other tasks as needed.

The ideal amount of time for this internship is 15-25 hours/week. If you wish to work more, we can assign additional tasks that best suit your qualifications. The internship can start immediately, and we are open to applicants for summer internships although we would prefer a commitment of six months. This internship is unpaid, but there is a genuine opportunity to grow with the organization.

Candidates should possess:

  • Superior research, writing, and interpersonal communication skills
  • A strong desire to make a difference
  • Experience in journalism and/or new media (very helpful but not mandatory)
  • At least a basic understanding of the American political landscape (mandatory)
  • Strong academic background, preferably with a focus in political science, public policy, journalism or a related field

Also, being able to explain why every decent policy gets clogged in the Senate is a huge plus. If you think you can answer this key question, please try to work it into your cover letter. However, don’t worry if you can’t – that will not automatically disqualify your application.

The Carrots and Sticks Project is an equal opportunity employer strongly committed to providing equal opportunity and to achieving an inclusive, diverse workforce that values every individual. Minority candidates are encouraged to apply.

Application instructions:

Interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter to Jeremy Koulish at jeremy@carrotsandsticks.org.


The “War” Against Coal

It’s rare that you have a truly hostile Congressional hearing. Here’s Rep. Jay Inslee responding to big coal executives complaining about a war against coal:

“If there is a ‘war’ being waged here, it’s being waged by your industry against our grandchildren,” said Inslee at one point. “Is it fair for the coal industry to be able to put CO2 in the atmosphere at zero cost?”

As I understand it was also pointed out that Waxman-Markey contains upwards of 60 billion in coal giveaways. So apparently the strategy is to drop bags of money on big coal until they surrender.

It’s no wonder people are looking for an alternative strategy?


Massey Energy Disaster Fallout

Via Brad Johnson at Think Progress.

The good news

Shareholders are calling on Massey Energy to seek the immediate resignation of chairman and CEO Don Blankenship in the aftermath of the West Virginia disaster that killed 29 miners, the worst in forty years. The Change to Win Investment Group — a union pension fund group with over $200 billion in assets — believes the Upper Big Branch mine explosion is the “tragic consequence of the board’s failure to challenge Chairman and CEO Blankenship’s confrontational approach to regulatory compliance.”

and the bad news:

Yesterday, Standard & Poors upgraded Massey to a “buy,” saying the tragedy’s “financial effect” was “immaterial.”

Clearly the legal system is failing when 29 employees dead, doesn’t rate as a financial problem. Massey energy has a long and exceptionally awful safety record and yet the S&P is confident that 29 deaths will have only external costs to the company.


Deficits and Elections

You read stuff like this WaPo article from David Cho all the time and it’s just never based on anything but vapors in the reporter’s imagination:

But by suggesting the deficit may have peaked, administration officials are taking a political gamble. If the favorable number does not hold up in coming months and the budget shortfall surpasses the $1.4 trillion recorded last year, voters in the November midterm elections could punish the Democrats for offering false hope.

Political Scientist Henry Farrell from the Monkey Cage offers this rejoinder.

It is certainly true that the electorate ‘could’ punish the Democrats for offering false hope on the deficit. But it’s also possible that the electorate ‘could’ punish the Democrats for how much Tim Burton’s latest movie sucked, for increases in shark attacks, or for failing to prevent the massive invasion of green alien space monkeys that’s due to take place this summer. Actually, there is some interesting evidence on the shark attacks. The false hopes, Alice in Wonderland and green space monkey effects? Not so much.


Climate Econ 101

Paul Krugman is wrong that a Pigovian tax and Cap and Trade systems are “more or less equivalent”*, but this article is a great read nonetheless.

The view from the Reality Based Community:

Just as there is a rough consensus among climate modelers about the likely trajectory of temperatures if we do not act to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases, there is a rough consensus among economic modelers about the costs of action. That general opinion may be summed up as follows: Restricting emissions would slow economic growth — but not by much. The Congressional Budget Office, relying on a survey of models, has concluded that Waxman-Markey “would reduce the projected average annual rate of growth of gross domestic product between 2010 and 2050 by 0.03 to 0.09 percentage points.” That is, it would trim average annual growth to 2.31 percent, at worst, from 2.4 percent. Over all, the Budget Office concludes, strong climate-change policy would leave the American economy between 1.1 percent and 3.4 percent smaller in 2050 than it would be otherwise.

And what about the world economy? In general, modelers tend to find that climate-change policies would lower global output by a somewhat smaller percentage than the comparable figures for the United States. The main reason is that emerging economies like China currently use energy fairly inefficiently, partly as a result of national policies that have kept the prices of fossil fuels very low, and could thus achieve large energy savings at a modest cost. One recent review of the available estimates put the costs of a very strong climate policy — substantially more aggressive than contemplated in current legislative proposals — at between 1 and 3 percent of gross world product.

And the we make up reality as go along community:

What you hear from conservative opponents of a climate-change policy, however, is that any attempt to limit emissions would be economically devastating. The Heritage Foundation, for one, responded to Budget Office estimates on Waxman-Markey with a broadside titled, “C.B.O. Grossly Underestimates Costs of Cap and Trade.” The real effects, the foundation said, would be ruinous for families and job creation.

This reaction — this extreme pessimism about the economy’s ability to live with cap and trade — is very much at odds with typical conservative rhetoric. After all, modern conservatives express a deep, almost mystical confidence in the effectiveness of market incentives — Ronald Reagan liked to talk about the “magic of the marketplace.” They believe that the capitalist system can deal with all kinds of limitations, that technology, say, can easily overcome any constraints on growth posed by limited reserves of oil or other natural resources. And yet now they submit that this same private sector is utterly incapable of coping with a limit on overall emissions, even though such a cap would, from the private sector’s point of view, operate very much like a limited supply of a resource, like land. Why don’t they believe that the dynamism of capitalism will spur it to find ways to make do in a world of reduced carbon emissions? Why do they think the marketplace loses its magic as soon as market incentives are invoked in favor of conservation?

* The Cap in the Cap and Trade proposals is a downward moving cap, which theoretically could eventually lead to the elimination of emissions all together. It’s only in the short term that C&T would act as a de-facto Pigovian tax, in the long term it looks more like a strict mandated pollution reduction.

Fight for CLEAN-TEA Still Alive and Well

Hopefully it’s been made pretty clear on this blog and in other Carrots and Sticks materials that if we were to write a comprehensive energy and climate package of our own, we would support a cap-and-dividend approach to carbon pricing akin to that of the Cantwell-Collins CLEAR Act accompanied by a Green Bank initiative to leverage up to $1 trillion of private sector investment in the new green economy. However, the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman framework that seems to be moving now is far short of that in terms of both simplicity and effectiveness. Both Chris and I still don’t think it has close to 60 votes and this all may be a moot point, but nevertheless it’s worth working to improve the KGL language as much as possible.

Part of our climate agenda, basically a backup plan if direct cap-and-dividend doesn’t happen, is allocations or investment of climate revenues in clean transportation projects. The now-defunct CEJAPA bill did a pretty good job of this, and we’d like to see that commitment be continued in this new initiative. On Monday, Transportation for America delivered a letter to its three chief architects reiterating this request, and we are proud to be one of the letter’s 41 co-signers.

Here’s the letter in full:

View this document on Scribd


A Note on Incendiary Political Tactics

On Saturday, Alan Grayson posted a video on DailyKos in a fundraising diary. The video had a fake George Bush, complete with his legendary wordsmithery, claiming he was going to Florida to fight against Grayson. Most commenters loved the skit, but some claimed it to be over the top. Apparently, such use of caricature and name-calling is demeaning and reduces us to the level of right-wingers and their teabagging minions.

As with most matters, I don’t see this as a black-or-white question. In general, it should be advisable to live by the Golden Rule: treat others as you would have them treat you. Which means that absent intervening circumstances, it is best to stick with logical and civilized debate and eschew personal attacks on one’s ideological adversaries.

However, that does not mean it is necessary or even ethically advisable to hold to that premise in the face of such intervening circumstances. I propose three criteria where, if met, incendiary tactics are justified:

1) The debate is continually muddied and progressive priorities are handicapped by a radical force with no interest in deliberative democracy;
2) Talking points exclusively built on logic are not effectively cutting through the clutter;
3) Any direct attacks must be reality-based and appeal to a higher morality.

So does that mean Grayson is justified? I’d say so, although it’s not 100% cut-and-dried. The first criterion is clearly met here – that point is pretty established. The second is also pretty clear, as the media and most establishment Democrats are unable or unwilling to call out the right wing hordes for what the radical, violent, antidemocratic force that they are.

The third, however, it not quite so obvious. Is using George Bush and parodying his speaking style necessary to get this point across? Does that serve any particular purpose, and on the other hand does it escalate the antagonistic dynamic in the state of political discourse?

I don’t really see the value-added beyond effective fundraising for Grayson, but I also don’t see the harm either because the discourse is already in such an overheated state. Given that Grayson has already exhibited inflammatory behavior in the past, and repeatedly so, it would actually be intellectually inconsistent for him to abandon that bare-knuckled strategy now.


Frum Fired

So the thing I don’t get about David Frum getting canned is that there’s an unequivocal sense in which the health care strategy of the GOP failed. And matter what flavor of the hour predictions Chris Matthews was making it always looked they’d pass something through. Even after Scott Brown, they had a bill through the Senate and a huge majority to work with in the House.

The viability of pretty any political strategy depends on an assessment of if you’ll or lose. Since they had 60 votes, or 59 and a passed bill it’s just clear why the GOP thought they would defeat the bill. There were never any unconditional no votes on the Senate side, just conditional yes votes. Maybe they didn’t they could win, but thought their opposition would lead the broader public drop their support for Obama. It hasn’t happened.

You get a similar calculus on financial reform, climate change or immigration. If it’s going to become law then maybe you don’t want to be on the losing side or you’ll take a tough vote to break the tie, but the same politicians being asked to be the 52nd vote for something that’s going down might not be so interested. Just thinking for myself I’d lose my seat for climate legislation, but not to make environmentalists feel better because they lost by a smaller amount.

So you can’t do strategy without having the discussion Frum wants to have, but apparently it’s beyond the pale for the modern GOP to even try to talk openly.