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Friday, July 23, 2010

Cap-and-Trade is Dead. Now What?

Cap-and-trade is the purest form of socialism. It would be a tremendous destructive force on our market and a hidden tax that would destroy the economy. This is why Republicans and "centrist" Democrats killed it dead, dead, dead yesterday. Common sense conservatives just can't get behind it. This is why George H.W. Bush instituted a cap-and-trade system to fight acid rain -- because Ronald Reagan's Vice President was a Marxist. It's why it was the solution offered by McCain/Palin in 2008 -- because Sarah Palin is a commie. Never mind that Bush Sr's program worked, the economy didn't collapse, and unbridled socialism didn't run rampant throughout the land. Those are facts and facts are for elitists.

As we all know, conservatives hate history. If tax cuts have never worked as a way to reduce the deficit, that's irrelevant -- this time they will for sure. So by the same token, if cap-and-trade as a market-based solution was a success story in the past, this time it won't be. They have the zen of a cow in the field munching grass; always in the "now," without any past or future. The only real difference is that where cows are incapable of learning from the past, Republicans refuse to. The past is filled with facts and facts are the greatest enemy of the modern conservative, so the past is the enemy. Maybe even a lie.

But are Senate conservatives the only ones to blame here? As is always the case these days, the answer is no. By now, you know how they're going to react to something. They're going to react negatively. Without fail. Never mind that cap-and-trade was their own damned idea, Republicans are 100% guaranteed to hate it if it comes from a Democrat. Because they're children. You don't have to be a psychic to see this coming a mile away. What was missing on this issue is the same thing that's been missing on so many issues; leadership.

Andrew Revkin, New York Times:

On a host of issues, Obama campaigned as a voice of reason, willing to listen to all views, amid all the polarized shouting. But on climate and energy, he has not yet, apparently, found the strength to break free of the 20th-century-style left-right fight to forge a positive path that is true to the scope and time scale of the climate and energy challenge and could resonate with Americans, particularly the young generation that will inherit the environment being shaped by decisions, or indecision, now.

Revkin points out that Obama has given no major address on the issue, has not "invited a variegated stream of researchers and analysts of climate science and policy to the White House," and has failed to counter congressional voices of idiocy like Sen. James Inhofe's. In short, the administration has been MIA on this issue -- an issue of the utmost importance to our future.

But that may be the glass-half-empty point of view. As Revkin points out, "Could it be that the White House has concluded what some political analysts have quietly told me -- that only a Republican president could muster the Senate votes to pass a meaningful climate bill?" If that's the case, I wouldn't hold my breath. Given the '12 GOP field so far, they're going to have a hard time offering a serious challenge. And none of the nutjobs lining up for the job seems to be very interested in reality. Even if one were to wake up out of their stupor and admit that global warming was real, they'd probably blame it on illegal immigrants or abortion.

We'll pass it off to Time's Joe Klein now:

[A] Supreme Court ruling, now three years old, [says] carbon dioxide is a poison that needs to be cleaned up. Next year, the Environmental Protection Agency will begin regulating the hell out of CO2. The business community won't like that, nor will many Republicans. "Putting a price on carbon is the only alternative," says Senator Maria Cantwell, who has offered a bill--with Maine Republican Susan Collins as co-sponsor--that would force the 2000 top polluters to participate in an auction to purchase the right to spew; 75% of the income would be returned as a "dividend" to taxpayers, the other 25% would go to alternative energy...

And so, yesterday's death of environmental legislation should be considered a pre-election maneuver. Given a choice between taxes and potentially punitive regulations, the wise--the more elegant; the less expensive--choice is a tax every time.

The administration can use the EPA as a hammer to force a legislative solution and, if that fails, continue to use it as a hammer to force CO2 reduction. Reducing CO2 is not optional, it's not something we can just give up on because Republicans have chosen to be idiots about it. If they need to be forced into a corner, then release the border collies and herd them into a corner.

I just wish that border collies weren't to sweet to bite.


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