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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Republicans Struggle to Explain Their Opposition to Action on Climate

Part of the problem with the Republican Party is that they approach everything as a business matter. They seldom say what they actually believe, preferring instead to put together a sales pitch that rationalizes their positions. As I've pointed out before, this explains the constant insane Republican rape theories. These Republicans believe that all abortion is murder and that using law to force a woman to give birth to her rapist's baby is just the most sensible thing ever. But experience tells them that this position isn't very popular, so they make up BS sales pitches explaining that rape never results in pregnancy. That they don't actually believe what they're saying is obvious -- if sexual violence can't result in pregnancy, why would they care if exceptions rape and incest are written into abortion bans? They wouldn't. It would make no sense, because it would never happen anyway. They keep getting caught up in these idiotic rape theory firestorms for a reason -- explaining what they really believe would actually be worse, from a PR standpoint. So they lie and take their beating for it. It's simply their best option.

Steve Benen spots a similar situation in global warming. Republicans believe -- in shockingly large percentages -- that global warming is a massive conspiracy among scientist to either soak institutions for grant money or to actually somehow bring the world to communism. The science of climate change is part of this conspiracy, meaning the scientific consensus is likewise BS. Whenever reality butts heads with their ideology, conservatives seem to cook up a conspiracy theory to explain why they're still right -- and worse, they tend to believe that theory.

However, the capital newspaper The Hill reported yesterday that Republicans are not attacking the science of global warming in response to the president's new climate push. Instead, Republicans are "battering Obama’s wide-ranging new climate plan with arguments it will cost jobs and hurt the economy." Another case of what they really believe being a political loser? It would seem so.


Steve Benen: ...[I]n response to the president's fairly aggressive plans, Republicans appear to have given up on pushing the "it's all a big myth" line, instead arguing that Obama's plans must be resisted because they'll undermine job creation.

It suggests GOP officials believe the public is inclined to agree with the White House on the science, so they'll have to change the subject. Global warming deniers may dominate Republican politics, but the focus groups have apparently told party leaders it's not what the American mainstream wants to hear.
Of course, accepting the science and arguing that we can't do anything because it would cost us jobs is as amazingly insane as your average rape theory. The argument is basically, "Yeah, we're heading into a situation that could -- and very likely will -- threaten humanity's survival. But, you know, it'll cost too much and people in polluting industries will lose jobs, so I guess we should all just go extinct." It may comes a surprise to you, but I find that less than convincing.

And of course, this argument's as much a pile of BS as what they really believe. New technologies are constantly killing off older ones and, contrary to what Republicans are saying, that's not bad for the economy. In fact, it's good for the economy. It's progress. It's why civilization didn't collapse when automobiles put the buggy whip industry out of business. New technologies create new markets and new jobs, so the jobs lost at Acme Carriage Whips and Crops just moved over to Ford Motor Company. If coal gets put out of business by solar, for example, the same sort of exchange will happen -- just as jobs have followed technology since the wheel replaced the skid.

But don't take my word for it, experts agree.

Huffington Post: In a comprehensive 2012 review of more than 25 studies that attempted to gauge the effect of environmental regulations on jobs, a team of researchers led by [Richard Revesz, the director of the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University] found that many claims about such regulations were unreliable.

While studies commissioned by the coal industry warned that millions of jobs could be lost, others conducted by left-leaning think tanks and environmental groups predicted that millions of jobs would be gained, their survey found.

By contrast, the most detailed studies concluded that job losses and gains from environmental regulations essentially balanced out. "When serious studies have been done, the impacts tend to be small -- sometimes positive, sometimes negative, but small," Revesz said.
Or, to put it in other terms, "Duh."

Take the news that Republicans are shying away from arguing against climate science as good news. It means they know they've lost that fight. And go ahead and take their new "job-killer" attacks as good news, as well -- because it makes no sense at all and it's very easy to refute. Taken together, it's very promising news, because it shows that -- just like rape and abortion -- Republicans have no good or convincing arguments left to them.


[photo via Wikimedia Commons]

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