Fauci Paints a Dire Picture

Trump taunts, Fauci frets and Biden finds some common ground with climate activists. It’s Tuesday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.

A man was tested for the coronavirus at a site in Houston yesterday. Cases continue to rise in Texas.

Joe Biden’s more liberal opponents spent months questioning his commitment to tackling climate change. Now, though, it appears some Democratic Party unity on the issue is emerging.

As my colleague Katie Glueck and I reported yesterday, a task force that was created to help shape Biden’s climate policies — which was made up of four people chosen by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and four chosen by his former chief rival, Senator Bernie Sanders — recently finalized its recommendations. The group has asked Biden to embrace some key targets, like 100 percent clean electricity by 2035, a rapid transition to energy-efficient buildings, and an immediate effort to impose new vehicle emissions rules.

Those goals are important substantively, because a major criticism of Biden’s plan was that its chief goal — achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 — lacked a specific blueprint for getting there or near-term benchmarks. Perhaps just as crucial, task force members from both wings of the party said they had come away from the six-week process feeling hopeful about the future.

“You know, I think from the progressive wing of the party, when these task forces were first announced, there was a healthy degree of skepticism, right?” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a co-chair of the climate task force, told me when we spoke on Capitol Hill last week. “You know, is this just for show or is this something real?”

She said she had been pleasantly surprised to find ideas from across the political spectrum discussed in good faith, and said she believed the task force had made “meaningful progress.”

Representative Don McEachin of Virginia, a Biden ally who was also on the task force, was more effusive.

“Anybody who is serious about preserving this wonderful jewel that we call the Earth will embrace this plan,” he said.

Notably, embracing the Green New Deal — an ambitious plan to tackle climate change and reshape the economy — was not one of the recommendations, despite the presence on the task force of its strong supporters like Ocasio-Cortez and Varshini Prakash, the executive director of the Sunrise Movement.

But as David Roberts of Vox notes in this excellent overview of a sweeping climate change plan that the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis unveiled recently, significant portions of Democratic plans are starting to resemble the Green New Deal in important ways anyway. These plans have coalesced around clean energy standards, investment in renewable power and linking climate change to racial justice issues — all things the Biden task force also focused on.

Whether the good will ends up lasting will largely depend on what Biden does with the task force recommendations.

For now, though, some common ground appears to have been reached. Ocasio-Cortez said: “I can at least speak to my experience on the climate task force. When I look back to it, it was better to be in that room than not be in that room.”

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