Here is an optimistic scenario that could result in a serious long run budget agreement this year. First, a bipartisan group of senators crafts a long run budget-plan that slows the future growth of Medicare and Medicaid, puts Social Security on sound fiscal basis, simplifies the tax code to raise more revenue from broader base with lower rates, and caps discretionary spending (both defense and domestic).
This step doesn’t take long, because the bipartisan group is already working and has the Simpson-Bowles and Domenici-Rivlin plans to build on.
Next, the president and the House leadership join the negotiations. Political perceptions begin to shift.
After the sharp world market reaction to the brief battle over the debt ceiling increase, all participants are scared of not acting. Fear of taking the first step to slow entitlement growth or raise additional revenue is replaced by fear of being blamed for blowing up the deal and throwing the economy into a new tailspin.
The deal no one thought possible is signed in the Rose Garden in the October sunshine, markets react positively, business steps up hiring, and economic growth accelerates.
[On the politics of climate impacts in the U.S.] The political alignment around climate impacts is almost the exact opposite of the political alignment around emissions control.
[On the geographic distribution of climate impacts in the U.S.] The damages to the Republican-electing congressional districts is almost double what it is for the Democratic-voting districts.
[On Brookings research on climate impacts and human health] When you look at the out years, all of these factors have an impact on what people care about, but the really dominant effect is mortality. Literally, there’ll be climate change killing people.