Climate change experts are glad to have Joe Biden in the White House as an enthusiastic official who wants to provide strong support for making climate changes around the world.
“The new president must not repeat Obama’s mistakes,” Derek Thompson, a staff writer for The Atlantic magazine, wrote as the new president began running the federal government. “The Obama stimulus was too small and too subtle. It was too small because the Republican opposition was intransigent, and the Democratic coalition was too small and too subtle.
“Obama’s team was transfixed by the merging science of ‘nudges.’
“Unfortunately, the tax cut was so sneaky that many people did not even know about the policy, let alone give Obama credit for it.
“Biden can rectify these errors by putting heft, speed, and simplicity at the heart of his agenda.
“Biden should pledge a giant subsidy that helps bring down the price of every technology in the clean-energy portfolio: hundreds of billions in guaranteed federal purchases of clean-energy tech, such as batteries and electric cars; more subsidies for solar and wind energy; and more R&D spending on lean energy and carbon removal.
“To pass the ambitious agenda, and keep voters on his side, Biden will have to keep things straightforward and easy to communicate. Fortunately, this seems to be his instinct. During the Democratic primary, Obama administration ex-pats recalled that, as vice president, he had a reputation for interrupting nitty-gritty policy discussions with touchy-feely stem-winders. As president-elect, he was still shushing aides when they started on the technocratic gobbledygook.
“Pick up your phone, call your mother, read her what you just told me,” he tells them. ‘If she understands, we can keep on talking.”
His other suggestions were that avoidance of any technicality that may one day reveal itself to be a weakness in drafting legislation should be paid attention to.
But for the moment, it’s a great strength. Biden should aim to inject into his public policy the same qualities that distinguish his preternatural gift for emotional storytelling.
At least, that’s the advice that a magazine writer would urge a new president to follow.