BTS 12/18/09: Political Dysfunction in Health Care Reform and Climate Change

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On tonight's program we look at the urgent debates around health care and climate change and how, despite the clear scientific and economic implications of both, everything leads back to political dysfunction.

Harold Meyerson has said that Republicans have become an immovable object, but the Democrats have yet to find a way to become an irresistible force. With each passing day, the Senate becomes more of a mockery of the principle of majority rule -- democracy's most fundamental precept. Harold joins us to talk about the political wrangling in the Senate over Health Insurance Reform -- Andy Borowitz is calling it “Compromise Care” – and the outcome is anything but certain. We’ll ask Harold to sort through the details, address the concerns of the left and whether he thinks a bill will pass.

We'll spend the rest of the hour on the politics and science of climate change. Elizabeth Kolbert, staff writer at the New Yorker and author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe, has published “The Copenhagen Diagnosis: Sobering Update on the Science”. She joins us to discuss the science update – which concludes that scientists have underestimated the pace and extent of global warming. Their updated report is explicitly aimed at “policy-makers, stakeholders, the media and the broader public.” We talk to her about the science and the politics as the Copenhagen conference comes to an end.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Harold Meyerson is the Wednesday Washington Post op-ed columnist and Editor-at-Large of The American Prospect . His is generally viewed as the most liberal voice on the Post op-ed page. Meyerson was also Columnist-at-Large for the L.A. Weekly, the nation's largest metropolitan weekly, where he served as executive editor from 1989 through 2001.

2. Elizabeth Kolbert writes on environmental issues for the New Yorker and Yale Environment 360. Her three-part series on global warming, “The Climate of Man,” won the 2006 National Magazine Award for Public Interest, the 2005 American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Award, and the 2006 National Academies Communication Award. She is the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change which was chosen as one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year (2006) by the New York Times Book Review, and is the editor of the new anthology on "The Best Science and Nature Writing of 2009."