A tale of two $1.9 trillion bills

This piece was originally published in the February 17, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.

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Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

“A lot of this is a man-made disaster.”

— Harris County, TX Judge Lina Hidalgo on the deadly impact of historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures across Texas.

When you hear someone claiming Biden’s economic relief plan is “too big,” just remember how much Republicans spent to cut taxes for the rich.

Funny how $1.9 trillion isn’t too big a price tag when it means the wealthy won’t have to pay their fair share.

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IN THE NEWS

Roughly 3 million Texas residents are (still!) suffering through severe power outages and below-freezing conditions. Experts say this winter storm’s severity, like Hurricane Harvey and countless other devastating extreme weather events before it, was intensified by climate change.

  • The energy infrastructure and state officials in Texas were dangerously underprepared for the impact of such a weather event on their isolated, deregulated power system.
  • Unlike other states, Texas‘s power grid isn’t connected to the web of other grids spanning the rest of the country — an intentional move that has allowed the state to avoid Federal Energy Regulatory Commission oversight of its overwhelmingly fossil fuel-powered energy system. This network of out-of-state power grids, if it had been available, could have helped mitigate the extent of Texas’s ongoing power outages.

Despite several reports of homeless individuals dying from the freezing temperatures and a spike in carbon monoxide poisoning as desperate Texans resort to turning on their cars in their garages to stay warm, Texas’s governor is nowhere to be found. Nowhere, that is, except Fox News.

  • Instead of rushing to restore power to his constituents and find shelter for unhoused Texans stuck out in the cold, Governor Greg Abbott has spent his time making the rounds to chat with some of America’s biggest climate deniers.
  • During an appearance on Sean Hannity’s show last night, Abbott falsely blamed the Green New Deal (which, as a reminder, has yet to be enacted and could actually help prevent crises like this) for the power outages and cited wind and solar energy as the culprits (Fact check: Very false). In reality, it was Texas Republicans’ own crusade against renewable energy policies which helped set the conditions for a situation like this.
  • After days of living under these horrific conditions, some Texans are understandably calling on the governor to resign following his negligence and active refusal to address the policy failures that allowed this to become such a disaster.

If you’re looking for a way to help Texas, here is a list of groups that are helping get at-risk Texans to safety.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

A new study found that the presence of an armed officer is actually associated with more deaths during school shootings. Researchers examined every shooting in a K-12 school over the last four decades and discovered that three times as many people were killed when an armed officer was present than when there was no officer present. This won’t come as a surprise, but more cops and more guns don’t seem to help de-escalate situations.

WHAT WE’RE READING

This piece was originally published in the February 17, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.

Hard-hitting news + analysis paired with action on the issues that matter most. Working alongside @AmProg.

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