Posts at MasterResource have highlighted the Left’s growing Civil War on climate policy. James Hansen, in particular, has called for the rejection of (Enronesque) cap-and-trade, as well as for the failure of the Copenhagen approach to climate policy.
More recently, the Hard Left (Bill McKibben, John Passacantando, etc.) has heated-up over Joseph Romm’s dismissal of cap-and-dividend as “cap-and-divide.” Here’s the comment of longtime Greenpeace head Passacantando on Romm’s post:
Joe, as a longtime reader of your blog I find your hostility towards an innovative approach perplexing …. I don’t think a legislative alternative to what appears to be a dead approach … is in any way divisive. Cap and dividend (the CLEAR Act) is a smart policy alternative, a real Plan B, filling in the current vacuum.
Romm would have none of it (remember, he works for the ObamaTank, a.k.a Center for American Progress).
I don’t find the approach “innovative” except in a sense they have found a way of siphoning off support from an effort that might actually lead to a bill that might preserve a global deal. Cap and Divide is a political dead end which is also environmentally inadequate. What more can one say? In that regard, it is much “worse” than Waxman-Markey, which, after all, passed the House. The only reason you and [Bill] McKibben [and James Hansen?] don’t know Cap-and-Divide is a political dead end is because it never even had enough political support to have been alive in the first place….
Obviously we need something other than W-M. But cap and divide ain’t it. The main thing that its ardent supporters in the environmental movement are doing is shrinking the political space available for an actual climate bill that Graham, Lieberman, Kerry and the White House are trying to put together.
The growing Civil War on the Left–with Romm to the Right Left–is a sight to behold for many longtime participants in the great climate debate.
Now to Bob Herbert at the New York Times.
“They Still Don’t Get It” (Herbert) Applied to Cap-and-Trade
New York Times columnist Bob Herbert’s They Still Don’t Get It (January 23) lambasted the Democrat’s infatuation with health care reform. Change a few words from that editorial and viola!–you have a damnation of cap-and-trade legislation, which passed the House under very nauseating circumstances to say the least.
Here is Herbert’s editorial with my changes in CAPS:
How loud do the alarms have to get? There is an economic emergency in the country with millions upon millions of Americans riddled with fear and anxiety as they struggle with long-term joblessness, home foreclosures, personal bankruptcies and dwindling opportunities for themselves and their children.
The door is being slammed on the American dream and the politicians, including the president and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill, seem not just helpless to deal with the crisis, but completely out of touch with the hardships that have fallen on so many.
While the nation was suffering through the worst economy since the Depression, the Democrats wasted a year squabbling like unruly toddlers over health insurance [CAP AND TRADE] legislation. No one in his or her right mind could have believed that a workable, efficient, cost-effective system could come out of the monstrously ugly plan that finally emerged from the Senate [HOUSE] after long months of shady alliances, disgraceful back-room deals, outlandish payoffs and abject capitulation to the insurance companies and giant pharmaceutical outfits [THE POST-ENRON ANTI-CO2 LOBBY].
The public interest? Forget about it.
With the power elite consumed with its incessant, discordant fiddling over health care [CLIMATE ALARMISM], the economic plight of ordinary Americans, from the middle class to the very poor, got pathetically short shrift. And there is no evidence, even now, that leaders of either party fully grasp the depth of the crisis, which began long before the official start of the Great Recession in December 2007.
A new study from the Brookings Institution tells us that the largest and fastest-growing population of poor people in the U.S. is in the suburbs. You don’t hear about this from the politicians who are always so anxious to tell you, in between fund-raisers and photo-ops, what a great job they’re doing. From 2000 to 2008, the number of poor people in the U.S. grew by 5.2 million, reaching nearly 40 million. That represented an increase of 15.4 percent in the poor population, which was more than twice the increase in the population as a whole during that period.
The study does not include data from 2009, when so many millions of families were just hammered by the recession. So the reality is worse than the Brookings figures would indicate.
Job losses, stagnant or reduced wages over the past decade, and the loss of home equity when the housing bubble burst have combined to take a horrendous toll on families who thought they had done all the right things and were living the dream. A great deal of that bleeding is in the suburbs. The study, compiled by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, said, “Suburbs gained more than 2.5 million poor individuals, accounting for almost half of the total increase in the nation’s poor population since 2000.”
Democrats in search of clues as to why voters are unhappy may want to take a look at the report. In 2008, a startling 91.6 million people — more than 30 percent of the entire U.S. population — fell below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, which is a meager $21,834 for a family of four.
The question for Democrats is whether there is anything that will wake them up to their obligation to extend a powerful hand to ordinary Americans and help them take the government, including the Supreme Court, back from the big banks, the giant corporations and the myriad other predatory interests that put the value of a dollar high above the value of human beings.
The Democrats still hold the presidency and large majorities in both houses of Congress. The idea that they are not spending every waking hour trying to fix the broken economic system and put suffering Americans back to work is beyond pathetic. Deficit reduction is now the mantra in Washington, which means that new large-scale investments in infrastructure and other measures to ease the employment crisis and jump-start the most promising industries of the 21st century are highly unlikely.
What we’ll get instead is rhetoric. It’s cheap, so we can expect a lot of it.
Those at the bottom of the economic heap seem all but doomed in this environment [OF ECO-ELITISM]. The Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston put the matter in stark perspective after analyzing the employment challenges facing young people in Chicago: “Labor market conditions for 16-19 and 20-24-year-olds in the city of Chicago in 2009 are the equivalent of a Great Depression-era, especially for young black men.”
The Republican Party has abandoned any serious approach to the nation’s biggest problems, economic or otherwise. It may be resurgent, but it’s not a serious party. That leaves only the Democrats, a party that once championed working people and the poor, but has long since lost its way.
Mr. Herbert may not have meant for his editorial to be a few words away from a rejection of cap-and-trade, but it is. The Left should reject Big Climate as they seem to have rejected Big Health.
Left Reasons Againt Cap-and-Trade
There are multiple reasons for the Left to get off the climate alarmism bandwagon in any case. Here are three: corporate welfare, nuclear power, and geo-engineering. Then there is the biggest reason fingered by Herbert himself: concern for the poor. Higher energy prices with no appreciable change in global climate is all pain, no gain.
Will Democrats get it? Will Al Gore be told to either reinvent himself or fade away? A grand, broad rethink is in order. Bob Herbert’s generic article is a start.