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Cap-and-trade or Cap-in-hand, Obama?

February 6, 2010

You would think that after witnessing the decidedly more decisive and agressive approach to  Congress which began with Obama’s State of the Union address last week, that the US President would have continued that style with climate legislation.

But the Great Big Hope seems, this week, to be already weakening the hand of those Democrats who are pushing hard for a strong bill, without gaining anything back in return from Republican opponents.

In a town hall meeting in New Hampshire this week, the GBH took the astounding approach of undermining fellow Senate Democrats, such as a Harry Reid and John Kerry, by selling short the chances of having a  ‘cap-and-trade’  title in the bill.

According the The Hill, Obama gave this deafeningly weak response to a question on the bill on Tuesday:

“The most controversial aspects of the energy debate that we’ve been having: the House passed an energy bill and people complained that, ‘Well, there’s this cap-and-trade thing,'” Obama said at a town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire.

“We may be able to separate these things out. And it’s conceivable that that’s where the Senate ends up.”

What??? Isn’t the idea to talk tough and only compromise when you get something back from your opponents? Isn’t this exactly the failed strategy that Obama used on his Health Care bill, i.e. being too wishy washy on what he wanted and letting the special interests develop their own devious narratives?

The reality is, even though it will be hard to get time in the Senate Calender this year for a climate bill to be passed and reconciled – it’s jobs bill first, then financial regulation, then maybe a Health care compromise, and then ‘shut-down-controversy’ time before the November congressional elections -, passing a strong clean energy  bill is probably only going to make putting a price on carbon harder later on!

The point is surely that there is some Republican support for cap-and-trade, including Susan Collins, Lindsay Graham, McCain (on the days when he’s not being a sore loser), among others. 8 Republicans voted for the Waxman-Markey Bill, which had cap-and-trade in it, last June. That might not sound like much, but it’s 8 more Republicans than Health Care got!

Lindsay Graham has said that you can’t have  energy security without a price on carbon. And that seems to be the case he has been putting to his GOP colleagues. So why on earth would you wreck that strategy, by passing a clean energy bill without a price on carbon? You’re left without a strong negotiating position to put the price back into the economy later. And what about the funding promises for the US to share its bit in US$100 billion of adaptation and mitigation funding per year made at Copenhagen? If you got no price on carbon, you got no revenue stream, and you have to keep going to Congress cap-in-hand, and we can see how well that works.

One Comment
  1. Eddie Baggio permalink

    Ce blog site est tres magnifique

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