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Archive for May, 2012

Will Clean Energy be a $2.3 Trillion Victim of Congressional Dysfunction?

May 11th, 2012

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Global clean energy investment is expected to reach $2.3 trillion within a decade. Markets continue to expand 30 – 40% each year.  By 2016, the global solar market alone is expected to reach $75.2 billion. Wind energy is expected to grow by double-digits annually, reaching $93.1 billion by 2016. These enormous economic opportunities are why the Obama Administration has focused so intently on helping grow American clean energy businesses. This has not been just through the investments in 2009, but also standing up of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-energy, the issuing of the first loan guarantee for a new nuclear power plant in the United States in more than a generation, and setting ambitious auto efficiency standards that will encourage American auto manufacturers to innovate.

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Marriage for Gay Couples: A Snapshot of Public Opinion Research

May 11th, 2012

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Given the President’s announcement of his support for marriage this week, folks are understandably searching for data on how his position will play with voters in the middle. Our four years of in-depth research into that question provides crucial insights—here’s a quick look at some key numbers from our July 2011 poll.

1. A strong majority of Americans say they will accept marriage for gay couples.

When asked how they would feel if gay couples could marry, 32% said they would be glad, 23% said they would not like it but it would be acceptable to them, and 37% said it would not be acceptable to them (another 9% said they didn’t know). So approximately a third of the country will likely be energized by President Obama’s announcement, and another third will accept it. Only about a third will find it unacceptable—and our guess is that likely very few (if any) of those folks were planning to vote for President Obama before his interview.

2. The “rights” argument may fall flat with the middle, but “commitment” can woo them.

Only a bare majority agreed that “marriage is a basic human right that should not be denied to gay people” (52%) and only slightly more thought that “not allowing gay people to marry is discrimination.” But 60% of respondents in our poll agreed that allowing gay couples to marry would “help committed couples take care of each other and their families.” That included 63% of Independents and 78% of those who rated themselves 5s on a 1-10 comfort scale with marriage. And 61% of all respondents thought the following statement described the issue of marriage for gay couples very well or pretty well: “I believe gay couples want to marry for similar reasons as anyone—to make a public promise of love and commitment.”

A solid 61% described this statement as convincing, including 37% who said it was very convincing:

Some people say that gay and lesbian couples who are truly committed to each other want similar things as the rest of us—to build a life together based on love and commitment, staying together through thick and thin. The Golden Rule is one of the most important values we teach our children—to treat others as we want to be treated. So if a couple is willing to stand up in front of family and friends and make a lifetime promise to each other, it’s not for us to judge, or to deny them that opportunity.

Those who thought that statement was convincing included 64% of Indepen­dents, 79% of those who rated themselves a 5 on the comfort scale, and 80% of those who said marriage would be acceptable but they wouldn’t like it (the grudging acceptors).

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Will the middle say ‘I do’ to gay marriage?

May 11th, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on Politico.

President Barack Obama’s announcement Wednesday in support of marriage for gay couples answered one key question: Where does he — and so his party — stand? Now the big question is: Are Americans in the middle ready to accept this?

That answer can be yes, based on our four years of extensive research into that precise question — if marriage supporters heed three crucial lessons about how the middle views this issue.

First, the “rights” frame is wrong. One word emerged during our nine rounds of research that described how Americans in the middle view marriage: commitment.

In fact, when undecided Americans were asked what marriage means to them, “commitment” came up four times as often as the word “love.” “Rights” never came up — not once. To folks in the middle, marriage is about making a promise to care for each other for a lifetime, through better or worse.

They often focused on the latter — because that is what makes marriage unique from other relationships. To them, marriage is about one thing: the obligation and responsibility that comes with making a public promise of lifetime commitment.

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The wages of austerity for Nicolas Sarkozy

May 7th, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on Politico.

The wages of austerity is death. Political death.

That’s the lesson of Europe — conveyed most recently by the defeat of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. He’s the first French president defeated for reelection in more than 30 years.

In Greece, which also held elections Sunday, the old regime just collapsed. The two governing parties that negotiated Greece’s painful bailout deal saw their support fall by more than half. Who gained? Protest parties of the far left and the far right — including a neo-Nazi party.

What the extremes had in common was opposition to the Greek bailout deal, which imposes tax hikes and wage cuts on a country where unemployment is more than 20 percent.

In 2011 and 2012, governments have been thrown out of power in Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and now France and Greece. Britain’s coalition government also experienced disastrous losses in local elections last week.

Eleven European countries are now in recession — including Britain, Spain, Italy, Greece and the Netherlands. The unemployment rate in the 17-nation Euro zone is now 10.9 percent. In Spain and Greece, a majority of young workers are jobless. Read the rest of this entry »