Wednesday, June 4, 2008

One Party’s Poison

Do you want an honest picture of the political challenge we face in getting sensible policy on climate change? Towards the end of a report on the start of Senate deliberation on Boxer-Warner-Lieberman, we read this about Bob Corker, Republican from Tennessee:

Mr. Corker is proposing a string of amendments that Democrats characterize as “poison pills” that would undermine the purpose of the legislation. His amendments would return more of the receipts from the carbon permits directly to taxpayers, eliminate the issuance of free permits and do away with the ability of American companies to meet their emissions targets by buying offsets overseas.

Poison? These are exactly what we need. Rather than sensing the opportunity to build a coalition with conservatives like Corker who rightly understand that we need a strong cap with minimal government meddling, Democrats can think only of showering business with giveaways. Of course, to have exemptions, offsets, freebie allocations and other goodies to pass out, the politicians have to push a plan riddled with loopholes.

The Democratic Party, as it now functions, is too wedded to narrow business interests, a proclivity it fine-tuned during the Clinton years, to grapple with a genuine public imperative like preserving a liveable planet. That’s what I would call an inconvenient truth.


Anonymous said...

While it is commendable to speak out against government handouts, I think your insinuation here is more than a little off-base. You demonize the Democrats for their behavior on this bill, which is fine. But it sounds to me that you're implicitly demonizing the Democrats specifically (in this case, they are praying on the lone wisdom speaking Republican). Go ahead and call a spade a spade, but don't weave in a subtle amnesia about the business handouts engineered by the GOP in the last 30 years, and particularly Bush's blatant use of his authority on their behalf in the last 7.

reason said...

I think in this case you could have been more nuanced in your response. Point 1 is arguable, given the current state of government finances and point 3 is arguably a real PLUS, so long as foreign permits are issued responsibly. That leaves just point 2, and depending on particular circumstances, even that is arguable (better to find an independent authority to make such decisions in very specific circumstances).