Commentary Magazine


Topic: energy-producing states

Reid Stalls

You get the feeling that Harry Reid doesn’t want to get much of anything done in the Senate. Rather than negotiate with Senate Republicans to reach a deal on financial reform, he seems bent on bringing it up again and again, and having cloture defeated again and again. He plainly wants a campaign issue, not a deal. Then there is the face-off between cap-and-trade and immigration reform. The former is toxic for lawmakers from energy-producing states, while the latter is anathema to Big Labor. So again, stalling is the preferred route:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rejected a proposal from supporters of a stalled Senate energy bill that would move immigration reform through the regular committee process on a priority basis and allow the energy bill to move forward on the Senate floor. The proposal would tentatively set action on immigration for November, after the midterm elections — a delay that even some Democrats would welcome.

If you sense that the Democrats are paralyzed, you are right. They are in an electoral ditch and realize that just about everything they have done or may think of doing will annoy large segments of the electorate. So instead they prefer to create issues and run on GOP “obstructionism,” which is a bit rich considering that they have jumbo majorities in both houses. Convincing the voters — who are mad at them for running up the debt and passing a noxious health-care bill — that it’s really the minority party’s fault that nothing much will get done for the rest of the year will strain the Democratic spin machine. But with the mainstream media on their side, you can bet they’ll give it a try.

You get the feeling that Harry Reid doesn’t want to get much of anything done in the Senate. Rather than negotiate with Senate Republicans to reach a deal on financial reform, he seems bent on bringing it up again and again, and having cloture defeated again and again. He plainly wants a campaign issue, not a deal. Then there is the face-off between cap-and-trade and immigration reform. The former is toxic for lawmakers from energy-producing states, while the latter is anathema to Big Labor. So again, stalling is the preferred route:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rejected a proposal from supporters of a stalled Senate energy bill that would move immigration reform through the regular committee process on a priority basis and allow the energy bill to move forward on the Senate floor. The proposal would tentatively set action on immigration for November, after the midterm elections — a delay that even some Democrats would welcome.

If you sense that the Democrats are paralyzed, you are right. They are in an electoral ditch and realize that just about everything they have done or may think of doing will annoy large segments of the electorate. So instead they prefer to create issues and run on GOP “obstructionism,” which is a bit rich considering that they have jumbo majorities in both houses. Convincing the voters — who are mad at them for running up the debt and passing a noxious health-care bill — that it’s really the minority party’s fault that nothing much will get done for the rest of the year will strain the Democratic spin machine. But with the mainstream media on their side, you can bet they’ll give it a try.

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Less than Meets the Eye — Again

The thing about Obama is that there is always less than meets the eye. He went to Copenhagen twice, each time with spinners expecting the fix was in and Obama could deliver a huge political win; but there was no game plan; there was no Chicago Olympics or global-warming deal. Obama intends to sweep away Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but not really. There is no executive order. There will be a long study and maybe, sometime, there will be congressional action. Obama had a plan for Iran: prove his bona fides by engagement, pivot to crippling sanctions, and hold military force as an option. Instead, he’s been meandering around in engagement and coming up with mini-sanctions. No cleverly devised plan after all.

Now we hear that the proposal to regulate CO2 by bureaucratic fiat is being whittled down to a mini-gambit that won’t go into effect until after 2010, when, by gosh, we’ll have a new Congress:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pledge Monday to move slowly on the implementation of upcoming greenhouse gas rules may give cover to some Capitol Hill Democrats to vote against blocking climate rules entirely, according to lobbyists and activists.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a letter to a group of Senate Democrats on Monday that upcoming rules to limit emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities won’t take effect in 2010. She also told the eight Democrats — who mostly hail from coal-producing or coal-reliant states — that the rules will initially be narrower than EPA had planned.

On one level, this is another exercise in cynicism. You see, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has a plan to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. But the Hill reports, “One environmental lobbyist said EPA’s action ‘absolutely’ gives Democrats cover to vote against [Sen. Lisa] Murkowski’s plan by providing time for work on climate legislation.” On the other hand, it’s evidence that the Obami aren’t really equipped to push through much of their radical agenda, so they must resort once again to delay, misdirection, and half-measures to avoid wigging out their base. Still, the EPA’s newest mini-gambit isn’t enough to win over some Democrats, especially those from energy-producing states:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who led the letter to EPA from the eight Democrats, is preparing a bill that would temporarily prevent EPA rules while Congress works on a broader climate and energy bill. He praised EPA’s action but said it hasn’t changed his mind. “I am glad to see that the EPA is showing some willingness to set their timetable for regulation into the future — this is good progress, but I am concerned it may not go far enough,” Rockefeller said in a prepared statement.

The environmental lobbyists are squawking about the need to ”defend science from politics, defend our children’s future from polluters, and defend our economy from the stranglehold of special interests.” Maybe that sort of thing worked better before Climategate, record unemployment, and Obama’s ratings collapse. But now, it reinforces the chasm between Obama’s agenda and his accomplishments. It is further proof that the Obami have a lot of bark and no bite when it comes to reinventing America or putting in a New Foundation, or whatever they call it these days. That’s very good news indeed.

The thing about Obama is that there is always less than meets the eye. He went to Copenhagen twice, each time with spinners expecting the fix was in and Obama could deliver a huge political win; but there was no game plan; there was no Chicago Olympics or global-warming deal. Obama intends to sweep away Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but not really. There is no executive order. There will be a long study and maybe, sometime, there will be congressional action. Obama had a plan for Iran: prove his bona fides by engagement, pivot to crippling sanctions, and hold military force as an option. Instead, he’s been meandering around in engagement and coming up with mini-sanctions. No cleverly devised plan after all.

Now we hear that the proposal to regulate CO2 by bureaucratic fiat is being whittled down to a mini-gambit that won’t go into effect until after 2010, when, by gosh, we’ll have a new Congress:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pledge Monday to move slowly on the implementation of upcoming greenhouse gas rules may give cover to some Capitol Hill Democrats to vote against blocking climate rules entirely, according to lobbyists and activists.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a letter to a group of Senate Democrats on Monday that upcoming rules to limit emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities won’t take effect in 2010. She also told the eight Democrats — who mostly hail from coal-producing or coal-reliant states — that the rules will initially be narrower than EPA had planned.

On one level, this is another exercise in cynicism. You see, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has a plan to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. But the Hill reports, “One environmental lobbyist said EPA’s action ‘absolutely’ gives Democrats cover to vote against [Sen. Lisa] Murkowski’s plan by providing time for work on climate legislation.” On the other hand, it’s evidence that the Obami aren’t really equipped to push through much of their radical agenda, so they must resort once again to delay, misdirection, and half-measures to avoid wigging out their base. Still, the EPA’s newest mini-gambit isn’t enough to win over some Democrats, especially those from energy-producing states:

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who led the letter to EPA from the eight Democrats, is preparing a bill that would temporarily prevent EPA rules while Congress works on a broader climate and energy bill. He praised EPA’s action but said it hasn’t changed his mind. “I am glad to see that the EPA is showing some willingness to set their timetable for regulation into the future — this is good progress, but I am concerned it may not go far enough,” Rockefeller said in a prepared statement.

The environmental lobbyists are squawking about the need to ”defend science from politics, defend our children’s future from polluters, and defend our economy from the stranglehold of special interests.” Maybe that sort of thing worked better before Climategate, record unemployment, and Obama’s ratings collapse. But now, it reinforces the chasm between Obama’s agenda and his accomplishments. It is further proof that the Obami have a lot of bark and no bite when it comes to reinventing America or putting in a New Foundation, or whatever they call it these days. That’s very good news indeed.

Read Less