Climate change "is not a hoax," according to the U.S. Senate, which voted 98 to 1 in favor of an amendment stating as much Wednesday. Explaining his vote, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said that there was "Biblical evidence" of climate change, but that humans were not responsible for it.
With this amendment, Democrats had hoped to force Republicans to take a stance on the reality of global warming. They didn't succeed. Two other amendments attributing climate change to human activity failed to achieve the 60 votes needed to advance.
There are somewhat intellectually respectable positions to take against climate-change legislation -- for example, that the costs of stopping global warming might outweigh the benefits -- but the Senate's is not one of them.
"In conclusion, the Senate is pretty clearly a hoax," Brad Plumer wrote.
What's in Wonkbook: 1) Quantitative easing in Europe 2) Opinions, including Warren on discrimination in housing 3) Climate votes, abortion and more
Number of the day: $30.35. That's the average hourly wage for an Uber driver in New York, according to an analysis commissioned by the company -- about twice that of conventional taxi drivers. Emily Badger in The Washington Post.
The bank's decision Thursday will be an important one for Europe and the euro. Quantitative easing "marks a critical juncture in the history of the currency and the European unity it embodies. The prospect of large-scale government-bond buying to fight the threat of deflation has not only reinforced national trench lines at the heart of the single currency. A failure of the institution's most controversial measure to date, combined with government dawdling on economic reforms, risks condemning the region to a spiral of dissatisfaction in which unemployment and economic weakness drive voters to politicians who say regional integration has gone too far." Jana Randow and Alessandro Speciale for Bloomberg.
European investors weren't impressed by the bank's proposal, though. "The European Central Bank’s executive board proposed buying roughly €50 billion ($58 billion) a month in bonds for at least a year, according to people familiar with the matter, but Markets largely shrugged as investors pondered whether the ECB will do enough to stoke Europe’s fragile economy. ... Investors are counting on the ECB to unveil a program that will shock and awe the market." Brian Blackstone in The Wall Street Journal.
In the United States, stocks were up for a third day Wednesday. "Easy monetary policy has helped drive gains in stocks in recent years. Even as the Federal Reserve remains on track to raise interest rates this year, efforts from other major central banks, including the ECB, are likely to keep global interest rates low. Wednesday also saw the Bank of Canada announce a surprise rate cut. Low interest rates should continue to lift U.S. stocks." Saumya Vaishampayan in The Wall Street Journal.
People are paying Switzerland to lend it money. "Switzerland has beaten everyone else to be the first to have negative 10-year borrowing costs, at -0.2 percent. And by 'first,' I mean in history. This has never happened before. ... Switzerland, which still has its own currency, has been a safe haven throughout the euro crisis. Investors have moved their money into Swiss francs that won't get devalued if the common currency breaks apart, and out of, say, Italian euros that might." Matt O'Brien in The Washington Post.
KRUGMAN: The causes of the euro crisis are obvious. "In the first half of 2011, when rising commodity prices boosted headline inflation — and when the Fed was proceeding with quantitative easing despite the howls of conservatives — the ECB raised rates twice. Overall, European policy has behaved throughout as if debt and inflation were the overwhelming risks, giving no consideration until very recently to the risk of deflation and persistent weakness. And the old mindset has by no means gone away — the monetary hawks are still hawkish despite deflation, inventing new reasons why interest rates must rise." The New York Times.
MALPASS: Quantitative easing hasn't worked. "Central bankers apparently believe deflation can still be halted by what Milton Friedman called a 'helicopter drop' of money, but it isn't clear they have the right tools. Bank reserves are already in massive excess. Adding more, as the ECB is expected to do, won't add growth or stop the price declines because there’s no longer any link from central-bank reserves to private-sector money." The Wall Street Journal.
Map of the day: This map shows the U.S. counties where the most disasters have been declared. Christopher Ingraham in The Washington Post.
BLOW: The E.P.A. plans to burn up armaments at an old Louisiana factory, putting poor, mostly black families living nearby at risk. "There is a long history in this country of exposing vulnerable populations to toxicity. ... Among the injustices perpetrated on poor and minority populations, this may in fact be the most pernicious and least humane: the threat of poisoning the very air that you breathe." The New York Times.
TALBOT: Research suggests paid family leave can help everyone. "Since women who take paid family leaves are more likely to see a wage increase and less likely to go on welfare, such policies may exert a positive effect not only on gender inequality but on economic inequality." The New Yorker.
Sen. WARREN: The Supreme Court is preparing to gut the law against discrimination in housing. "As with the voting rights decision, a decision limiting the scope of the housing laws would ignore the will of Congress and undermine basic principles of racial equality. But there is even more at stake in the fair housing case, because the wrong decision would reduce economic opportunities for working families and raise the risk of another financial crisis." The Washington Post.
Republicans scrap a bill on abortion. "House Republican leaders abruptly dropped plans late Wednesday to vote on an anti-abortion bill amid a revolt by female GOP lawmakers concerned that the legislation's restrictive language would once again spoil the party's chances of broadening its appeal to women and younger voters." Ed O'Keefe in The Washington Post.
Politically, the retreat was a sensible one. "A renewed effort to curb abortion rights carried severe risk not just for the House GOP Caucus but the party's eventual presidential nominee. Because in a race against Hillary Clinton, the GOP starts at a stark disadvantage among a very specific group of voters it needs to start peeling away from Democrats if it intends to take the White House: white, college-educated women. These are mostly suburban, moderate voters who skew socially moderate but are hardly fiscally progressive; in other words, they're broadly supportive of abortion rights but generally opposed to higher taxes." Alex Roarty in National Journal.
The speaker of the New York Assembly faces arrest on likely charges of corruption. "The investigation that led to the expected charges against Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who has served as speaker for more than two decades, began after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March abruptly shut down an anticorruption commission he had created in 2013." William K. Rashbaum, Thomas Kaplan and Susanne Craig in The New York Times.
Two likely G.O.P. presidential contenders will meet. "Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are scheduled to meet privately this week in Utah, raising the possibility that the two former governors will find a way to avoid competing presidential campaigns that would split the Republican establishment next year, two prominent party members said Wednesday night." Jonathan Martin in The New York Times.
A budget official, Brian Deese, will become President Obama's senior adviser on the environment. "The 36-year old Deese will take over for White House counselor John D. Podesta, who is leaving next month to help Hillary Rodham Clinton prepare for a 2016 presidential bid. ... Both conservation leaders and former senior administration officials said the decision to replace Podesta signaled the president was committed to pursuing an ambitious environmental agenda during his final two years in office." Juliet Eilperin in The Washington Post.