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Next Up: Cap-and-Trade?

Every time you think the Obama administration’s chutzpah has maxed out, you read another story that teaches you that this is a quality that should never be underestimated. According to the Daily Beast, senior aides are telling the press that once they are finished ramming an unpopular health-care package down a reluctant Congress’s throat, they will begin the same process with a raft of legislation aimed at further depressing the American economy and increasing Washington’s control of what will be left: cap-and-trade carbon laws aimed at reducing the threat of global warming.

Though last week some of the same sources were claiming that a long overdue immigration-reform package (a goal that George W. Bush tried and failed to achieve due to resistance from his own party) would be the next step, it makes sense that Obama would be more interested in cap-and-trade, since it reflects his own ideological predilections about increasing government power and deferring to international opinion.

Yet even the sympathetic Daily Beast can’t quite fathom how Obama thinks he will force-feed such a dubious proposal to Congress or the American public. As Richard Wolffe writes of the administration’s hubris: “Obama is even taking up climate change — an issue on which, after an anticlimactic summit in Copenhagen and a scandal that raised questions about whether advocates were skewing the research, the president would appear to be swimming entirely upstream. ‘We were never going to go small,’ said one senior Obama aide, referring to the Clinton strategy after his party’s defeat in the 1994 mid-term elections.”

How do we account for such a lack of realism on the part of the White House? The chances of passing cap-and-trade were already quite small even before the revelation of statistical fraud at the crucial Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University and of false claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Does the White House relish being linked to dubious research about melting glaciers in the Himalayas or misleading hockey-stick diagrams purporting to show temperature increases that aren’t there? Does Obama really want to spend the months before the midterm elections watching environmental extremists take center stage as cap-and-trade is debated in Congress? Is he willing to play Sancho Panza to Al Gore as the Nobel Peace Prize laureate jousts with windmills in what would be an obviously futile effort to get Democrats to go along? (Forget about the Republicans ever backing such legislation — especially if they get the opportunity to hand Obama another major defeat before November.)

Perhaps the “senior aides” dishing this story are just blowing smoke at the press, but if true, the idea that global warming is next for Obama shows just how divorced from political reality this administration has become.



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