Planet Gore

Will It Play in Peoria?

Keith Hennessy notes in this post that “the New York Times editorial board is leaning toward having ‘an issue rather than a law.’ ”

In doing so he importantly reminds us of key votes from the Senate budget resolution in April, which seem as easy to forget about, yet as critical to the larger debate, as then-candidate Obama’s vow to seek cap-and-trade in order to “cause electricity prices [to] necessarily skyrocket” and “bankrupt” coal and those who would burn it, but which must be brought to the fore of the Waxman-Markey Senate debate early and often:

* 67 Senators, including 27 Democrats, voted against creating fast-track reconciliation protections for a cap-and-trade bill, meaning that supporters need 60 votes to pass a bill, rather than 51.


* 54 Senators, including 13 Democrats, voted for an amendment that would allow any Senator to initiate a vote to block any climate change provision which ‘cause[s] significant job loss in manufacturing or coal-dependent U.S. regions such as the Midwest, Great Plains, or South.’”

Now, this post also reminds me of a telephone call I received from a White House aide on that night in December 2006 when incoming chair of the Senate Environment Committee, Barbara Boxer, supposedly broke it to Duke Energy’s Jim Rogers that no, he shouldn’t be expecting billions in rents from a cap-and-tax bill to reward his loyal support. It seemed that the issue was too important to have for use against Bush, and for the 2008 election — according to San Francisco’s own Ms. Boxer, who lives in a world where this issue is not a punchline.


She, apparently like the New York Times now, saw it as more important to have the issue than the law. The greens got wind of this, however — Rogers, so my caller said, was beside himself and ringing everyone in town he could in outrage, so it was hard not to get wind of it — and demanded what proved to be the Boxer-led disastrous vote last summer in which the bill had to be pulled from the floor in a matter of hours.


The election of 2008 of course saw two candidates equally moonbatty on the issue — so no subsequent, real debate or opportunity for the people to weigh in has followed, sadly.


Now, my response at the time was to contact as many people in the lobbying community as I could reach, urging them to press the advantage, demanding votes, even on Kyoto. They blanched. (Washington representatives are a special lot, living in mortal fear — not of something bad being passed that harms their company’s interests, but of getting that phone call from the home office asking, “so . . . what do you think of the deal?” and having no earthly idea what the deal is. So, the notions of fighting and winning aren’t as innate as they might be for some of us with the luxury of ideological purity).


So it may be that Congressional Democrats, the White House, and their handmaidens at the New York Times really believe that — outside their world — a global-warming tax just knocks ‘em dead (as the Times’s Pauline Kael, perhaps apocryphally, couldn’t believe that Nixon won given that no one she knew voted for him). The evidence that I see tells me something different. Let’s find out.


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