Health Care of a Different Sort

As policymakers return to Washington for what will be a packed fall schedule, health care is Issue Number One on their minds. It was their primary focus before they left for the August recess and, as the daily stories and video clips from town hall meetings make clear, the issue is well on its way to dominating the autumn congressional schedule. And it is a major issue, to be sure. But there is another health care issue that is even more significant – one that affects a lot more than 305 million Americans. We’re talking about a health care issue affecting all 6.8 billion people alive today and those of the future: The health of planet Earth.

The health of the planet is due to be addressed this year by the US Congress through the energy and climate legislation. The House passed a comprehensive energy bill by the barest of margins (219-212) in June. This perhaps was the most significant energy/climate change action by a congressional chamber ever. The Senate will consider its own version of an energy and climate bill this fall, but – the Senate being the Senate – passage of a bill will take much longer.

There are many common characteristics between the health care and energy/climate debates, such as differing opinions over the need for major change in the first place, the economic consequences, budget impact, policy complexities, the role of government and so on. And both sets of issues have become political and partisan lightning rods.

At least in the energy/climate debate, Applied Material’s prescription for success is clear: mega-doses of renewable energy, particularly solar PV. Solar PV is not a complete cure, but it certainly is an important ingredient for a healthy energy/climate diet. Greater uptake and deployment of solar energy will be one of our key messages as the Congress and the Obama Administration return to work in September.

And no public policy issue could be more exciting for our DC team and me to tackle in the weeks ahead.

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