Nancy Pelosi Is Speaker Of The House Again

Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of The House again after eight years out of power, but there's little time for her to celebrate.

Not unexpectedly, Nancy Pelosi was rather easily elected Speaker of the House for the 116th Congress with only a minimal amount of dissent from a small number of Democratic members of the House:

WASHINGTON — On a day of pomp and pageantry, ebullient Democrats assumed control of the House on Thursday and elected Representative Nancy Pelosi of California to be speaker, returning her to a historic distinction as the first woman to hold the post at the pinnacle of power in Congress, second in line to the presidency.

The investiture of Ms. Pelosi, whose talent for legislative maneuvering is surpassed only by her skill at keeping her fractious party in line, placed her at the fulcrum of divided government opposite an increasingly combative President Trump. With Mr. Trump, his presidential campaign and his businesses all under federal and state investigations, her handling of him will likely define the 116th Congress.

Her election came on Day 13 of a government shutdown that has dramatized the shifting dynamics in Washington. Mr. Trump’s insistence on a wall on the Mexican border has come to embody harsh immigration policies that will run headlong into newly energized Democratic opposition.

But on Thursday, if only for a few hours, the dark clouds of divisive politics parted long enough for a peaceful transition of power from Republicans to Democrats, as a majority lawmakers rose in turn from their seats on the House floor to utter Ms. Pelosi’s name and formally award her the gavel she relinquished in 2011 after a Tea Party wave swept Republicans to power.

Following her election, Ms. Pelosi, wearing a hot pink dress, ascended to the marble dais in the center of the House chamber with Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the incoming Republican leader, who handed her the wooden gavel.

“To the speaker of the House, Ms. Pelosi, I extend to you the gavel,” he said. The room erupted into applause as Ms. Pelosi held the tool aloft, showing it off to her colleagues.

“Our nation is at a historic moment,” she declared. “This Congress will be bipartisan, transparent and unified.”

Moments later, with a “Come on, kids!” Ms. Pelosi invited the children and grandchildren on the floor of the House to surround her as she took the oath of office.

“I now call the House to order on behalf of all of America’s children,” Ms. Pelosi said after she was sworn in.

Scores of newly elected Democrats in the most racially, ethnically and gender-diverse class in history were on hand for the occasion, some of them clad in the traditional or religious garb of their communities — a Palestinian thobe, a Muslim hijab or head scarf, a Pueblo dress. The new members provided the visual tableau of change in a chamber that has for centuries been overwhelmingly white and male.

“When our new members take the oath, our Congress will be refreshed, and our democracy will be strengthened by the optimism, idealism and patriotism of this transformative freshman class,” Ms. Pelosi said in prepared remarks to be delivered from the House floor. “Working together, we will redeem the promise of the American dream for every family, advancing progress for every community.”

Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, nominated Ms. Pelosi to be speaker, prompting a standing ovation from most of the Democratic side of the House and much of the spectators in the gallery.

Politico has more:

Nancy Pelosi was elected speaker for the 116th Congress on Thursday, cementing her legacy and returning the longtime Democratic leader to the post she first held eight years ago.

Pelosi, the first and only woman to ever wield the speaker’s gavel, was elected with 220 votes. 15 Democrats did not vote for her on the floor.

Pelosi was celebrated in the leadup to the vote, which made her the most prominent Democratic foil to President Donald Trump at a time when the new House majority is eager to take on the president.

“Let me be clear. House Democrats are down with NDP,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said as he officially nominated Pelosi, whose maiden name is D’Alesandro, to the speakership. The Democratic side of the chamber erupted into a standing ovation.

The election marks a triumphant return to the gavel for the California Democrat after a band of a dozen-plus rebels unsuccessfully tried to deny her the speakership late last year. Pelosi is the first person in six decades to regain the speaker’s gavel after losing it, a job she first held from 2007-2011.

Pelosi, 78, also made history in a less positive way — ascending to the speakership in the middle of a partial government shutdown with no end in sight.

Still, even with the shadow of the shutdown looming over the new Congress, current and incoming lawmakers still exuded that “first day of school” vibe before the official proceedings kicked off shortly after noon.

Several lawmakers were seen toting their young children around the House as they welcomed new members and said hello to longtime colleagues. Pelosi entered the chamber with several of her grandchildren in tow, pumping her fists as she walked down the center aisle of the chamber.

Legendary crooner Tony Bennett, a guest of Pelosi’s, was spotted in the speaker’s box in the gallery above the chamber. Other guests of Pelosi’s included Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead and Project Runway co-host Tim Gunn. Pelosi’s husband, five children and all nine grandchildren were also on hand for the occasion.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a former House member himself, was also on hand for the speaker’s vote and gave Pelosi a hug as the vote kicked off.

Several new members were still trying to find their way around the Capitol complex and introduce themselves to the police officers who station every entrance.

Rep.-elect Haley Stevens (D-Mich.), one of 100 incoming freshmen, was stopped by security as she tried to get to the House to be sworn in. She didn’t yet have a member pin, only a pass. The officer, who did not recognize her, looked at her name on the badge and muttered “bear with me here.”

It did not put a dent in her excitement to become a member of Congress. “We are energized and we are resolved and we are ready to deliver,” Stevens said enthusiastically as she turned toward the chamber.

Prior to today and during the campaign, there was some question about potential challenges to Pelosi’s leadership, especially from the progressie wing of the party and from Democrats elected in marginal In the end, 15 Democrats ended up either voting for someone else, including everyone from Congressman Joseph Kennedy to former Vice-President Biden or voting “No” or “Present,” presumably as a form of protest. In any case, with her election, Pelosi becomes the eighth Speaker of the House to be re-elected to the Speakership after having previously lost it. The previous seven were Frederick Muhlenberg, who served as Speaker in both the 1st and 3rd Congresses in the early years of the Republic, Henry Clay, who served as Speaker during the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, and 18th Congresses, Thomas Brackett Reed, who served as Speaker during the 51st, 54th, and 55th Congresses, Joseph Martin, who served during the 80th and 83rd Congresses, and Sam Rayburn, who served during the 76th, 77th, 78th, 79th, 81st, 82nd, 84th, 85th, 86th, and 87th Congresses. She also remains the only Member of Congress and the only woman to serve in the position.

Thanks to the ongoing government shutdown, Pelosi won’t get much of a honeymoon notwithstanding the laurels that were heaped upon her this afternoon. Later today, the House will vote on a series of bills designed to end the shutdown with respect to all of the agencies of government impacted by the shutdown with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security and to pass a continuing resolution with regard to DHS funding that allows the parties to continue negotiating with regard to President Trump’s border wall. Unfortunately, President Trump has already rejected that proposal and, because of that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he will not put a bill before the Senate unless he’s assured that the President will agree to the deal. The major problem with that is that this is extremely difficult given the fact that the President has failed to say exactly what he’d accept other than the $5 billion for his wall that he continues to insist upon despite the fact that it’s clear that this is not going to pass Congress. This means that the parties will need to come up with some kind of face-saving proposal that both sides can accept. What that might be is something that, in the end, only the President can speak to at this point. However, as Senate Minority Leader noted just about a year ago, negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jello because you can never be sure where he actually stand and you can never rely on his word at any given moment since he could end up changing his mind at the drop of a hate. Given this, it’s hard to see an easy resolution to this mess any time soon.

So, congratulations Speaker Pelosi, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Democracy, Policing, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Kylopod says:

    I remember overhearing a right-winger shortly after the 2010 elections rejoicing over rumors that Pelosi had decided to retire. Oh, the days.

  2. Teve says:

    And Paul Ryan retires as the biggest Speaker failure in my lifetime, but with a strangely high 12% approval rating

  3. Kylopod says:

    @Teve: Less than half of the Keyes constant is essentially the equivalent of “nothing.”

  4. James Pearce says:

    Woe to you, oh earth and sea…Nancy Pelosi, aka the Head Cutter, aka the Iron Queen, has the gavel again. Look upon her works, ye mighty, and despair.

  5. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: yeah, colorectal cancer could probly get 12% 😀

  6. grumpy realist says:

    @James Pearce: yah, we get it, you can’t stand capable women in positions of power.

    We know the only person you consider to be Wonderful is Trump, and all the rest of us are supposed to bend down and hail him as our God and Leader.

    (Sixty-seven dimensional chess player? The idiot can’t even read a “See Dick run!” story.)

  7. Teve says:

    yah, we get it, you can’t stand capable women in positions of power.

    I quit reading him quite a while ago, so I’ve heard him talk shit about Hillary, and I’ve heard him talk shit about pelosi, but I haven’t directly seen him talk shit about Elizabeth Warren and AOC. If he hasn’t already, I’m sure it’s coming. 😛

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    @grumpy realist:

    yah, we get it, you can’t stand capable women in positions of power.

    Yep. Took me a while to decipher the crazy, but that’s the basis of his hard-on against Democrats. They’re doomed to lose because: bitchez; and Trump is sure to win because: penis.

  9. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: he also has a problem with black people, but women have been more prominent lately.

  10. James Pearce says:

    @grumpy realist:

    you can’t stand capable women in positions of power.

    And yet that doesn’t stop me from having a “Nikki Haley for President” sticker on the bumper of my Subaru.

  11. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Finally, the Pearce expert chimes in.

    @Teve: You’re right. You don’t read my comments…

    (Yeah, I got skillz.)

  12. Liberal Capitalist says:

    I don’t know if you all see the same stories on the upper right of your screen, but I see two Nancy Pelosi related stories up there… with two pictures of her.

    I’ve got to say, I didn’t know that Nancy was one of the Barden Bellas!


    And James, do you ever get tired of being the person trying to take a duce in the punchbowl?
    We sure do. Your roll? It’s old.

  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    If true then you’re lying about being a Democrat. Right?

    I’ll just sit back and enjoy the moment.

  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I think you guys are giving JP too much credit–not to mention attention. When I used to read his schtick, he prided himself on being “a contrarian.” By which he meant a person who reflexively argues against what he or she believes is the zeitgeist of the moment. To comment on what he is saying is to both reinforce his delusions that he understands the culture and to reward him for his contrariness. In his case, “pointing out his folly for the sake of the lurkers” is probably non-productive as most of what he says is probably too arcane for lurkers to care about. Teve probably has a good approach, and I try as much as possible to avoid reading him to.

    As always, YMMV.

  15. Teve says:
  16. Ben Wolf says:

    One might reasonably infer…that Pelosi and company had decided to back the proposed Green New Deal select committee, championed by (among many others) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which would study the intersection of economic growth and climate change over the next two years. Under the proposal, the committee would not be charged with passing legislation, and in fact would be expressly prohibited from doing so. Instead, its mandate would be to develop a plan to decarbonize the American economy within ten years and to draft a bill on which future congresses—perhaps ones convened during a future Democratic administration—could vote.

    Yet when House Democrats unveiled their committee structures for the 116th Congress on Wednesday, there was no Green New Deal to be found. In its place is a “Select Committee on Climate Change,” which will “investigate, study, make findings, and develop recommendations on policies, strategies, and innovations to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis.” It may hold public hearings related to “any aspect of its investigative functions,” if its leadership is so inclined.

    At first blush, this sounds like it might be sufficiently robust. But the Select Committee on Climate Change does not have the authority to issue its own subpoenas, and instead must submit requests for subpoenas to other standing committees. (Even the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which operated for four years when Democrats last controlled the House, had the power to compel testimony.) It does not bar its 15 members—nine Democrats and six Republicans—from taking money from fossil-fuel interests. And, critically, it is not required to get any particular thing done. Like so many creations of Capitol Hill, it has been set up so that there is no important task at which it can be deemed to have succeeded or failed.

    The likeliest culprits here are people like longtime Democratic representatives Frank Pallone and Peter DeFazio, both of whom had dismissed the Green New Deal proposal as unnecessary. It is not a coincidence that these men are in line for leadership positions on committees with jurisdictions that might overlap with that of the proposed committee. As usual, the one thing that frightens incumbent members of Congress more than doing the hard work of legislating—to say nothing of allowing humankind to hasten the fiery destruction of the planet we all inhabit—is acceding to anything that might reduce their own power or perceived importance.

    Nancy Pelosi and her leadership are climate deniers.

    We have about 12 years left. That’s the clear message from a monumental study from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). To avoid some of the most devastating impacts of climate change, the world must slash carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, and completely decarbonize by 2050 (while, in the meantime, emissions are still rising).

    The IPCC looked at the difference between the world “only” warming two degrees Celsius (3.8°F) — the agreed upon goal at global climate summits in Copenhagen and Paris — or holding warming to just 1.5 degrees. Even the latter, they say, will require a monumental effort “unprecedented in terms of scale.” We face serious problems either way, but every half degree matters a great deal in human, planetary, and economic losses.

    It wasn’t just the IPCC that told a stark story. Thirteen U.S. government agencies issued the U.S. National Climate Assessment, which concluded that climate change could knock at least 10% off of GDP. Other studies tell us that sea level rise is going to be worse than we thought, Antarctica is melting three times faster than a decade ago, and Greenland is losing ice quickly as well. If both those ice sheets go, sea level rise could reach 200-plus feet, resulting in utter devastation, including the loss of the entire Atlantic seaboard (Boston, New York, D.C., etc.), all of Florida, London, Stockholm, Denmark, Paraguay, and land now inhabited by more than 1 billion Asians).

    Insisting on an incremental response to a catastrophic problem is a form of psychological denial. And right-wing denialism is at the heart of the Democratic Party.

  17. James Pearce says:

    I’m not a Democrat. I’m a liberal independent, which means I often vote Democratic, but officially I’m unaffiliated. I do not actually have a Nikki Haley bumper sticker on my Subaru. It’s a (properly aligned!) Broncos sticker.

    But I do like Nikki Haley, despite her being a Republican.

  18. James Pearce says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    And James, do you ever get tired of being the person trying to take a duce in the punchbowl?

    It’s called “taking the piss” and not only did I gently parody the Pelosi-philes, I did it while referencing both Iron Maiden and Shelley.

    Sorry you didn’t think it was funny, but it was funny.

  19. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “Sorry you didn’t think it was funny, but it was funny.”

    It was a hard-fought battle, but we have a winner in the contest for “Least Self-Aware Person on the Internet.”

  20. MarkedMan says:

    Another guy who’s not worth reading: Wolf. He comes across as bitter, angry and reflexively negative. And of course, the ultimate reason for ignoring someone in a comments section: he doesn’t actually engage in discussion, but jus lobs his turds over the wall and ignores any replies he doesn’t like.

  21. James Pearce says:


    It was a hard-fought battle, but we have a winner in the contest for “Least Self-Aware Person on the Internet.”

    This –well, I’ll be generous– “quip” is way too lame to get 6 upvotes. If you need some extra wit, you can borrow some of mine.


    Another guy who’s not worth reading: Wolf. He comes across as bitter, angry and reflexively negative.

    I cannot wait until our culture abandons this “I refuse to encounter viewpoints I do not agree with” moment. It’s a recipe for intellectual atrophy, as demonstrated daily from our resident name-callers and braggarts.

  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    Disappointed Bernie Bro, doesn’t like women, and seems to think we need a Marxist revolution. Pearce is just an idiot; Wolf jammed his otherwise considerable brain into a tiny box of ideology and resentment, a self-inflicted intellectual crippling.

  23. JohnMcC says:

    @Teve: I not up to date on protocol for these occasions but I took it as a particularly low-class act that Ryan gave the job of handing the gavel over to Ms Pelosi to Cong McCarthy.

  24. Teve says:

    @JohnMcC: the only good thing one can say about Paul Ryan is that he was incompetent, and while he managed to blow up the deficit, like all good Republicans, he failed in his effort to destroy the social safety net and completely turn us into a third world country.

  25. Moosebreath says:

    @James Pearce:

    “If you need some extra wit, you can borrow some of mine.”

    Are you sure you have any to spare? You only seem to have a half portion yourself.

  26. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds: You think I’m a “Disappointed Bernie Bro?”

    I’m an Obama guy, going “There’s no red states and blue states, dummy, just the United States” and you’re over here going, “To hell with all that. We have the women, the minorities, the gays, the cities, and all you have are the deplorables. Ha ha.”

    Count me out of that self-delusional, divisive crap.

  27. Monala says:

    @James Pearce: He’s talking about Ben Wolf, not you.

  28. James Pearce says:


    He’s talking about Ben Wolf, not you.

    Yeah, on second glance, it appears you’re right. He did call Ben the “Bernie Bro.”

    Me, he just called an idiot.

  29. Mister Bluster says:

    @James Pearce:..And yet that doesn’t stop me from having a “Nikki Haley for President” sticker on the bumper of my Subaru.

    @James Pearce:..I do not actually have a Nikki Haley bumper sticker on my Subaru.

    self-delusional, divisive crap

  30. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “This –well, I’ll be generous– “quip” is way too lame to get 6 upvotes. If you need some extra wit, you can borrow some of mine.”

    As evidenced by this clever comeback? Thanks, pass.

  31. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “I cannot wait until our culture abandons this “I refuse to encounter viewpoints I do not agree with” moment. It’s a recipe for intellectual atrophy, as demonstrated daily from our resident name-callers and braggarts.”

    Telling that you can’t see a difference between “refuse to encounter viewpoints I do not agree with” and “after reading many comments over a long period of time have come to the conclusion that this poster has nothing worthwhile to say.”

  32. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “Yeah, on second glance, it appears you’re right. He did call Ben the “Bernie Bro.” Me, he just called an idiot.”

    And then you proved him right. Good job!

  33. Teve says:

    @wr: wr, I don’t know about you, but I originally started coming here because Doug and James were conservatives that I didn’t agree with. But they were smart conservatives, who are worth engaging.

    A small number of people here are, intellectually, not worth engaging.

  34. Ben Wolf says:

    Last year, House Republicans voted to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit, for the sake of delivering enormous tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations. Now, as one of their first acts upon taking power, House Democrats are preparing to prohibit themselves from adding a penny to the deficit for any purpose — including investments in things like climate preparedness, which could plausibly pay for themselves in the long run. This plan has outraged the party’s far-left flank, seeding a (small-scale) rebellion against Nancy Pelosi’s leadership before she’s even taken the Speaker’s gavel.

    The PAYGO rule is substantively indefensible. It rests on the economically illiterate premise that balanced budgets are forever and always desirable. In truth, deficit spending is the only responsible means of combating severe recessions, and a perfectly sound means of financing worthwhile public investments in a context of low inflation and chronically low labor-force participation — which is to say, in our current context. As a political matter, it is true that voters generally evince a fondness for the phrases “fiscal responsibility” and “balanced budgets.” But it defies credulity to suggest that there is a significant contingent of single-issue, deficit-reduction swing voters who plan to carefully study the Democratic Party’s changes to House procedure before going to the ballot box in 2020. Therefore, even swing-district Democrats have no excuse for backing PAYGO, and their attachment to the rule is maddening.

    All that said, it doesn’t really matter, in a concrete sense, whether the House adopts a PAYGO rule or not. Even if the House establishes a rule that all new spending must be paid for, it can waive that rule for any individual piece of legislation with a simple majority. Many Democratic opponents of PAYGO have signaled that they intend to vote for the package of rule changes, regardless, citing assurances that the rule will be waived if doing so is necessary for “advancing key progressive priorities.”

    More crucially, PAYGO isn’t merely a House rule, but also a federal law. And waiving that law would require a 60-vote majority in the Senate (or else, the abolition of the filibuster), even if Pelosi’s caucus rejected PAYGO.

    Thus, the rule doesn’t actually matter — only the principle does. If we knew that congressional Democrats universally supported using deficit financing to advance progressive goals, then the PAYGO rule would be entirely inoffensive. If House Democrats want to have a fake rule that they can point to when Republicans propose tax cuts — and instantly waive, when progressives propose expansions of the welfare state — that’s fine. The problem is that the rule reflects a genuine ideological commitment to “fiscal responsibility,” which will make it difficult to pass deficit-expanding legislation through the Senate.

    Fortunately, the mere existence of a divisive, intraparty fight over PAYGO is a sign of vital progress. For decades, a belief in the necessity of long-term deficit reduction was a source of consensus within the Democratic Party. Democrats might fight about whether spending cuts were necessary — but the idea that new spending would have to be paid for with tax hikes wasn’t controversial. Now it is. And that fact is more important that the details of the House’s ultimate rules package. Khanna and Ocasio-Cortez lost a battle that didn’t matter — and, in so doing, made some tangible progress toward victory in a wider war that does.

  35. James Pearce says:

    @Mister Bluster: Oh god…joking about a bumper sticker I do not have doesn’t mean I’m self-delusional. It means I have a sense of humor.


    Telling that you can’t see a difference between “refuse to encounter viewpoints I do not agree with” and “after reading many comments over a long period of time have come to the conclusion that this poster has nothing worthwhile to say.”

    I just read three of your comments in a short period of time.

    Since I apparently live rent-free in your head, hear this: stay out of my bathroom and stop touching my stuff.

    (<–Memo to Mr. Bluster. That's a joke, too.)

  36. JohnMcC says:

    @Ben Wolf: Well, THERE’s a pithy comment. Wonder what Ben REALLY thinks?

  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Ben Wolf: Undoubtedly, you have “proven” that
    1) Speaker Pelosi is a climate denier and has rigged the House Democratic Caucus so that climate deniers will “win,” and
    2) A person of your resolve would certainly turn the ocean liner-like phenomenon of global warming on the dime necessary to reverse the direction of carbon concentration over a 12 year period (tl/dr: if 12 years is it, are we past the “tipping point?”).

    Maybe you and Pearce should form a “contrarian” pact of some sort and combine your businesses.

  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Interesting. Roughly 10 years ago, I came here because it was a conservative site that promised a conservatism that I could still believe in and embrace, even though I thought Doug and Dr. Joyner held some neocon positions that were problematical for me.

    Little did I know that time and the philosophical version of Newton’s First Law of Motion would send the left careening past me in a mere 10 short years.

  39. wr says:

    @Teve: Agree with you on all counts. Sometimes mosquitoes need to be slapped, though.

  40. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “Since I apparently live rent-free in your head,”

    The last refuge of the desperate troll — “I can’t possibly convince anyone of anything, my points are incoherent or simply moronic, everyone sees that I’ve got nothing to say… but look, I managed to annoy someone, so I exist!”

  41. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: and it’s not just me, I think there are a lot of liberals in the comments here, who are here because this is a rare smart conservative site where we can see and discuss differences of opinion. Where else are we going to go? Gateway pundit? Conservative treehouse? Breitbart? you can lose IQ points just reading those sites. 😛

  42. Ben Wolf says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    We have just 12 years to make massive and unprecedented changes to global energy infrastructure to limit global warming to moderate levels, the United Nation’s climate science body said in a monumental new report released Sunday.

    “There is no documented historic precedent” for the action needed at this moment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) wrote in its 700-page report on the impacts of global warming of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1.5 degrees Celsius.

    From rising sea levels to more devastating droughts to more damaging storms, the report makes brutally clear that warming will make the world worse for us in the forms of famine, disease, economic tolls, and refugee crises. And there is a vast gulf between the devastation from 1.5°C, what’s considered the moderate level of average warming, and 2°C.

    “It’s very clear that half a degree matters,” said Valérie Masson-Delmotte, co-chair of IPCC Working Group I at a press conference in Incheon, South Korea, where the report was released.

    Under the Paris climate agreement, nations set a goal of limiting warming to 3.6°F, or 2 °C, increase in global average temperatures, with ambitions of a stricter limit of 2.7°F, or 1.5°C of warming. The UN asked the IPCC to figure out what it would take to hit the 1.5°C target, and what’s in store for the world if we did pull it off.

    The team pooled more than 6,000 scientific publications, drew contributions from 133 authors, and had more than 1,000 scientists review the findings.

    As expected, the report doesn’t pull any punches: Staying at or below 1.5°C requires slashing global greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050.

    Meeting this goal demands extraordinary transitions in transportation; in energy, land, and building infrastructure; and in industrial systems. It means reducing our current coal consumption by one-third. It also demands a vast scale-up of emerging technologies, such as those that remove carbon dioxide directly from the air. All in the very narrow window of the next 12 years while our momentum pushes us in the wrong direction.

  43. Ben Wolf says:


    There’s every reason to expect that Pelosi will once again be highly effective. But some progressive Democrats object to one of her initial moves — and on the economics, and probably the politics, the critics are right.

    The issue in question is “paygo,” a rule requiring that increases in spending be matched by offsetting tax increases or cuts elsewhere.

    You can argue that as a practical matter, the rule won’t matter much if at all. On one side, paygo is the law, whether Democrats put it in their internal rules or not. On the other side, the law can fairly easily be waived, as happened after the G.O.P.’s huge 2017 tax cut was enacted.

    But adopting the rule was a signal of Democratic priorities — a statement that the party is deeply concerned about budget deficits and willing to cramp its other goals to address that concern. Is that a signal the party should really be sending?

    The economics of crude, mechanical rules about budget deficits are clear: They’re a really bad idea.

    Deficit obsession was deeply destructive in the years that followed the global financial crisis, helping conservatives push for austerity measures that held back economic recovery for years. True, we no longer have a depressed economy, and austerity is a lot less destructive when the unemployment rate is less than 4 percent than it is when unemployment is more than 8 percent. But another recession will come, sooner or later — probably sooner rather than later — and a rigid budget rule will not be helpful when it does.

    Furthermore, there are things the government should be spending money on even when jobs are plentiful — things like fixing our deteriorating infrastructure and helping children get education, health care and adequate nutrition. Such spending has big long-run payoffs, even in purely monetary terms.

    Meanwhile, the federal government can borrow money very cheaply — the interest rate on inflation-protected 10-year bonds is only about 1 percent. These low borrowing costs, in turn, reflect what seems to be a persistent savings glut — that is, the private sector wants to save more than it’s willing to invest, even with very low interest rates.

    Given this reality, why not put some of those excess savings to work in high-return public investments? Should we really refuse to spend money repairing sewer systems or providing child nutrition if doing so raises the deficit a bit, with only a minor impact on future interest costs?

    But, you may say, isn’t it politically important for Democrats to present themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility? I’m highly skeptical.

    Consider budget history over the past generation. The story is very clear: When in power, Democrats make big efforts to balance the budget; when Republicans come in, they promptly blow the money on tax cuts for the wealthy. Yet polling consistently shows the G.O.P. with an edge on the question of which party is better at dealing with deficits.

    Or consider what happened after Democrats enacted the Affordable Care Act, going to great lengths to pay for the additional benefits with tax increases and spending cuts. A majority of voters still believed that it increased the deficit. Reality doesn’t seem to matter.

    Anyway, the truth is that while voters may claim to care about the deficit, hardly any of them really do. For example, does anyone still believe that the Tea Party uprising was a protest against deficits? From the beginning, it was basically about race — about the government spending money to help Those People. And that’s true of a lot of what pretends to be fiscal conservatism.

    In fact, even the deficit scolds who played such a big role in Beltway discourse during the Obama years seem oddly selective in their concerns about red ink. After all those proclamations that fiscal doom was coming any day now unless we cut spending on Social Security and Medicare, it’s remarkable how muted their response has been to a huge, budget-busting tax cut. It’s almost as if their real goal was shrinking social programs, not limiting national debt.

    So am I saying that Democrats should completely ignore budget deficits? No; if and when they’re ready to move on things like some form of Medicare for All, the sums will be so large that asking how they’ll be paid for will be crucial.

    But while fiscal prudence is always necessary, for Democrats to put spending in a straitjacket — especially when Republicans have shown themselves completely irresponsible — looks like a bad move.

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Ben Wolf: I repeat: it seems like we may be past the tipping point. Or are you making the same point and I’m just missing it? (see Neal’s comment on another thread)

  45. Tyrell says:

    @Ben Wolf: When these carbon fees are implemented, how will they affect the consumer, the average working people who are paying their utility bills and don’t need more fees or taxes?
    The American homeowners have put in their own money and hard work to make their homes more energy efficient. They have installed insulation, caulked, bought energy efficient appliances and heat/ac, window film, smart thermostats, special power meters, energy monitoring software, efficient lighting, smart light switches, and many have made their own solar panels. They did this on their own with no help from the government. The hardware stores are full of energy saving materials, tools, and supplies. I wonder how much of the Federal government buildings have been upgraded to save energy.
    Every time this subject is talked about by politicians, it always comes around to some sort of extra taxes or fees on the average people. Some would love to put higher taxes on gas, and cars.
    The American people have done their part.
    See – UN Agenda 21 and 2030 “Sustainable development”. The US needs to stay out of these entangling treaties and agreements.