I couldn't help but laugh when I read the sub-headline of this New York Times report on Joe Biden's recent speech laying out his new, improved environmental policy proposals. It reads, "Joe Biden’s plan connects tackling climate change with the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, while also addressing racism." Oh, is that all? Forgive me for assuming his advisors just wanted to toss a bunch of hot topics into a single speech to limit his exposure to the voting public.
Biden’s plan outlines specific and aggressive targets, including achieving an emissions-free power sector by 2035 and upgrading four million buildings over four years to meet the highest standards for energy efficiency.... [H]e promised that “the U.S. auto industry and its deep bench of suppliers will step up, expanding capacity so that the United States, not China, leads the world in clean vehicle production.” .... He also pressed the need to link environmental advocacy to racial justice, describing pollution and other toxic harms that disproportionately affect communities of color.
One need not read any further than "an emissions-free power sector by 2035" to recognize this as an unserious plan. As the Times acknowledges, its subtext is shoring up the support of the various Democratic factions who've long been skeptical of Biden. The "climate justice crowd has struggled to figure out what his environmental policies actually are (they're not alone), and doubt his commitment to their cause. The Race uber alles coterie are inclined to hold his role in crafting the '94 crime bill against him. The Bernie Bros economic lefties don't really trust anyone to deliver but Bernie. And the promise of auto-industry jobs and his shot at China are an attempt at outreach to the blue collar voters who pulled the lever for Trump in 2016.
Which is not to say that we shouldn't be concerned about this plan should Biden win in November. House minority whip Steve Scalise referred to it as "Solyndra on steroids,” and that about sums it up. Biden didn't assign a dollar amount to his proposal, but it's clear he plans to spend significantly more than the $1.7 trillion his campaign had initially proposed. It would be hard for a President Biden to renege on a commitment to that kind of spending without drawing a primary challenge from, say, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2024, when she will have just turned 35.
How would a Biden administration pay for this you might ask? Easy:
To pay for it, campaign officials said, Biden proposes an increase in the corporate income tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent, “asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share."
The odd conflation of corporations and "the wealthiest Americans" aside, the U.S. only just cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent in 2017, and it isn't as if we had trillions of dollars in the budget to spend on electric cars before then.
Joe Biden wants voters to think of him as reasonable and moderate, but proposals like this, ordered towards appeasing the most extreme elements in his party, are a window into how he would actually govern: disastrously.