Byron Dorgan

In Defense of Joe Lieberman
January 19, 2011

I have often found Senator Joe Lieberman’s positions infuriating. I didn’t agree certainly with his unstinting support for the invasion of Iraq, or his support for Israel’s Likud governments, or his sanctimonious denunciation of Bill Clinton’s sexual dalliances, or his endorsement of John McCain in 2008. Still, I rue Lieberman’s departure from the Senate—along with that of Kent Conrad, and the recent departures of Russ Feingold, Byron Dorgan, and Robert Bennett. Some of it has to do with sheer predictability and individuality.

Doooomed on Climate Change. Probably.
July 22, 2010

My colleague and environmental policy expert Brad Plumer is as gloomy on the job as he is cheerful in person. When I see him in the office, I like to tease him by waving my hands wildly in the air and saying "we're dooooooomed." Unfortunately for me and the rest of you, Brad happens to know what he's talking about. Climate catastrophe seems imminent, but most Republicans and quite a few Democrats remain opposed to meaningful climate change legislation. President Obama and his allies say they will try to pass something and environmental groups are doing what they can to help.

Is The Coal Industry Suicidal?
July 21, 2010

For years, the coal industry's strategy for dealing with climate change has gone something like this: 1) Fight off caps on carbon pollution for as long as possible. 2) Convince politicians to throw gobs of money at fancy low-carbon technologies like carbon capture and sequestration. 3) Pray that those fancy technologies actually work. The strategy has succeeded so far. Seeing as how half the electricity in the United States comes from coal, there's never a shortage of members of Congress willing to do whatever the industry wants. And yet...

Is The Energy-Only Bill About To Make A Comeback?
April 27, 2010

There's still a lot of uncertainty about the Senate climate bill. Now Harry Reid's saying he'll put it on the Senate calendar before immigration, after all. "Common sense dictates that if you have a bill that is ready to go, that is the one I am going to go to,” Reid told reporters earlier.

Head Lock
April 20, 2010

Some two dozen executives from large corporations will be descending on Capitol Hill today to make the case against over-regulating derivatives. The “fly-in” is being organized in part by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce through a group called the Coalition for Derivatives End-Users, according to the Chamber’s Ryan McKee. Many corporations use derivatives to hedge against fluctuations in the price of their inputs—for example, an airline might sign a contract to lock in future fuel prices, thereby passing the risk along to someone else.

A Few Good Dems
February 15, 2010

The Democrats’ recent electoral woes have been well-chronicled. Within the last six months, the party has been plagued by high-profile losses (Martha Coakley, Jon Corzine), high-profile retirements (Byron Dorgan, Marion Berry), and, yes, even high-profile deaths (Ted Kennedy, John Murtha). Stack those on top of a faltering economy, a stalled-out Congress, and a pissed-off populace (to name just three bits of bad news), and the first Tuesday in November is looking nasty.

Dorgan! Dodd! Democrats! D'oh!
January 07, 2010

WASHINGTON -- A politically shrewd Senate Democratic staff member chatting about the future of health care negotiations stopped in midsentence late Tuesday afternoon as news flashed across his computer screen. "My God," he said. "Byron Dorgan is retiring." It was a thunderclap moment in the politics of 2010, an unfortunate twist for Democrats already looking at a difficult election year.

Will the White House-Pharma Deal Survive?
December 18, 2009

Democrats managed to avoid a big blow-up with Pharma this week when the Senate struck down Byron Dorgan’s drug reimportation amendment on Tuesday. But by promising to close the Medicare Part D doughnut hole in the final bill, the Democratic leadership has effectively deferred, not avoided, a possible showdown with the industry.

Will the Senate Really Push Back Against the Drug Industry?
December 11, 2009

I agree that Byron Dorgan’s reimportation amendment is quite a roundabout way of lowering the exorbitant prices that Americans pay for prescription drugs: rather than have our own government push Big Pharma to bargain prices and give us a better deal, we would be able to piggyback off the success of other countries in doing so.

Planet Worth
December 11, 2009

Of all the different industry groups scrambling to shape climate policy in Washington--from electric utilities to Detroit automakers--one stands out as a bit unexpected: Wall Street. Financial giants like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have enlisted, all told, more than 100 lobbyists to roam the Capitol and influence the debate over how to curb greenhouse gases. There’s a reason for that: Any cap-and-trade bill that puts a limit on emissions and allows polluters to buy and sell permits will create a vast carbon market.