Monday, August 27, 2012

Revenge of the Son of the Return of Cranky Blogging

Now extra-cranky since my youngest started school today, thus switching my sleep schedule. That is, less.

So: I have two complaints about Robert Frank's pitch for a carbon tax in the Sunday NYT Business section.

The first complaint is a false-equivalency complaint. Well, actually, begin before that: I was highly annoyed from the beginning. He starts by saying "Don't expect to hear much about climate change at the Republican and Democratic conventions." Will that be true? Maybe, maybe not. It's just as likely that we'll hear plenty of climate denialism at the GOP gathering, perhaps in "jokes" about the world-wide conspiracy by climate scientists to convince everyone of something that they made up. And it's not at all unlikely that we'll hear a fair amount about climate from the Democrats.

Maybe not; maybe Republicans will be scared off the topic by the midwestern drought and Isacc, and Democrats will be scared off the topic by their fear of, well, Democrats can always scare themselves out of any issue. But actually, I expect to hear a fair amount about it from the Democrats next week. After all, as Frank does get around to mentioning, Democrats actually did try to do something fairly major on climate when they almost had the votes.

At any rate...sure, feel free to bash specific Democrats for putting short-term local interests over the long-term national interest, and feel free to complain about the Democratic strategy in 2009-2010. But Frank hardly acknowledges any difference between the parties on the issue, and that's nuts.

But that's not all! Frank annoys me on budgeting, too, by claiming:
many budget experts agree that federal budgets simply can’t be balanced with spending cuts alone. We’ll also need substantial additional revenue, most of which could be generated by a carbon tax.
"Can't"? Politically, perhaps, but that needs an explanation. Otherwise, of course the budget can be balanced with spending cuts alone. Just because they would be unpopular don't mean it couldn't happen. After, all, by that standard a carbon tax that increased the price of gasoline by $3/gallon also "can't" be done.

There's a point to this. I've been very insistent that Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney should be called out for making budget promises that really don't add up: mathematically, they really can't, for example, slash tax rates by 20%, save the tax treatments that they say they want to save, keep middle-class taxes from rising, and achieve revenue neutrality. Can't be done, and they deserve to be absolutely slammed for it. But that's not the same kind of "can't" that Frank is talking about. It's fair to hold Republicans responsible for the cuts that a spending-only balance budget program would make, but not accurate to say that such a budget isn't possible. It's important, in my view, to reserve the "can't" for when it's really needed. Which, alas, is all too often.

6 comments:

  1. I would be shocked and very pleased if there is any direct mention of global warming at the Democratic convention. Sure there will be indirect references to "energy independence" and investing in green technologies. But I would be very surprised if any major speaker directly links those things to an increasingly hot climate caused by man made release of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Climate change is the new gun control.

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  2. That Pelosi/Waxman Cap and Tax vote in 2009 was a big part of what got the Left shellacked in 2010. I'm sure the R's are praying the Left will be stupid enough to go that route again, but it's doubtful they will. They've learned their lesson.

    And given the Solyndra nonsense, and the GE connection, I doubt the "green tech" meme will carry much electoral weight for the Left, as it will only elicit a thunderous counter about the culture of corruption and political payoffs, which will play quite nicely in the battleground states.

    I'd say the Left has done a pretty good job of poisoning the enviro well. If they were smart, they'd call Romney out for his past global warmingism, and try to depress his vote. That's about the only enviro angle that might possibly bring them any satisfaction this cycle.

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    1. "That Pelosi/Waxman Cap and Tax vote . . ."

      Of course, before the Democrats endorsed it, it was called the "Republican free-market alternative to the carbon tax."

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    2. And as I say, that's what the Left should put in front of the electorate, that Willard was for it before he was against it, to drive off some of his supporters.

      There's more than one way to skin that enviro cat, even if it is an endangered species.

      But in the main, global warmingism is dead like Dillinger, and the above campaign strategy would have the Left declaring concurrence with that death.

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    3. I'm so relieved there's no such thing as global warming. Maybe we won't have to drop giant ice cubes into the ocean.

      Oh wait:

      http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/arctic-sea-ice-hits-record-low-level

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    4. You should send that link in to lefty HQ. I'm sure they know exactly what to do with it. ;-)

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