The White House billed Wednesday night’s primetime press conference as being about health care reform. And sure enough, President Obama and the press by and large stuck to that script.
The president made a passing mention of renewable energy in his opening remarks, saying the U.S. economy “simply wasn’t ready to compete in the 21st century, one where we’ve been slow to invest in clean-energy technologies that have created new jobs and industries in other countries.”
After that, all health care, with a smattering of the Prof. Gates arrest at the end. The media did not ask a single question about climate change and renewable energy. No reference was made to the massive cap-and-trade bill passed last month by the House or the Senate’s work to come up with its own bill.
Politics is about timing. I get that. And until the Senate begins debating an actual proposal, there’s not much the White House can (or should) do to urge action. But a very important clock is ticking: Passage of a climate and energy bill is seen as a precondition for an international deal to be reached at Copenhagen late this year.
Health care continues to dog the push for a comprehensive climate and energy bill. So here are some questions for Grist readers:
Does the president risk losing momentum for climate action by turning his attention to health care?
Or is the health care focus a sign of confidence — that the White House believes a Waxman-Markey-like bill is a done deal?
Should we get over ourselves and concede that health care takes priority over climate action?
Are both issues “doable” this year?
I think I can guess what Grist’s David Roberts would say: Obama is laying the groundwork for a major makeover of the U.S. economy, and focusing just on energy or just on health care would fall short of getting our country ready to compete in the 21st century. David will be back tomorrow, so we’ll see if he takes that view or not.
For now, get the conversation going in the comments below.