Pawlenty’s Cap and Trade About-Face

March 30th, 2011 at 7:52 am David Frum | 16 Comments |

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Here is what I don’t understand about Tim Pawlenty’s reversal – not only on cap-and-trade – but also on any concern for climate change whatsoever:

It would make sense to say:

“Back in 2007, I supported cap-and-trade. That was before the recession. In these difficult times, our economy cannot support an additional burden. Let’s get back to full employment and strong economic growth. Once our economy is prospering again, it will be time to decide what to do to protect our environment.”

Or else:

“Cap-and-trade is a conservative idea, originating with free market economists, that was successfully used by the first Bush administration to stop acid raid. But the actual cap-and-trade bill that emerged from the Democratic House of Representatives was stuffed with gimmicks and giveaways to Democratic constituencies. I could not support that. So as president I’ll be looking for other ideas to protect our environment.”

But whoever is president after 2013 will inherit both an improving economy – and also an accelerating climate-change problem. Why put yourself on record now in ways that will inhibit responding to environmental challenges in the future?

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16 Comments so far ↓

  • Stewardship

    The reversal also makes him vulnerable to succumbing to the fossil fuel industry’s inevitable argument (when the economy gets going again), of “We can’t address climate change now, it’ll slow the economy and send us back into recession.”

    It is the blatant intellectual dishonesty that bugs me about most of our GOP candidates. What and who are we voting for? If you’ve changed your position for political expediency (as opposed to principles and righteousness), how can I trust you’ll follow through on any campaign promise or policy?

  • armstp

    Another Republican, like Palin, who was for cap-n-trade before he was against it. By the way cap-n-trade is largely a free-market Republican idea.

  • Rob_654

    Your suggsted wording makes sense to most people, but the Republicans who vote in the early primaries are not “most people”. The even give a suggestion that Global Warming may be true and that “people” might play any role in it is a non-starter.

    These Far Right Folks either simply don’t believe in global warming – and even if they have a little inkling that something might be happening they do not believe that humans have any role in it – it is simply the earth changing all on its own.

    Pawlenty is simply saying what he has to to run in the Republican primary – it doesn’t have to make sense or any logic to it – it simply has to check off the “bullet points”.

  • nikhil_gupta

    I don’t think this is a hard problem at all. If you think global warming is a liberal hoax, a serious solution to it does not look to serious at all.

  • rbottoms

    Why put yourself on record now in ways that will inhibit responding to environmental challenges in the future?

    Because the Republican party has gone insane? Not content with being mean spirited, gay bashing, misogynistic racists, there’s whole religious nut, anti-science idiocy too.

    It’s fun to watch. Even if I never agreed with a thing the GOP was for, at least I had some respect for why Republicans believed what they did. But now, it’s too crazy for words.

  • unkownone

    We know the answer to this. The Government will pay to deal with the problem, which means more debt and more tax burden on working people. The energy industry has succeeded the same way the financial industry succeeded in removing regulations. Even modest attempts to stop them from destroying capitalism are vigorously opposed. It’s the energy industry’s turn. Expect to start spending billions to deal with global warming effects in the next 10 years and expect the government to pick up most of the costs and expect republicans to blame the consumer for living beyond their means.

  • Fastball

    The presidential bug that bit Pawlenty has effected a remarkably swift personality transplant – a fairly decent, mainstream governor morphed into a dishonest hack, willing to dump overboard whatever integrity and principles he might have had in pursuit of blind ambition.

  • forkboy1965

    Is anyone else thinking “flip-flop”?

    And what’s with this bullshit stuff about “We can’t do this stuff now because it might hurt the economy”. If that’s the case why didn’t “we” take care of these things when the country was humming along nicely before the implosion?

    It’s like the healthcare debate. The GOP hates Obama’s passed plan, but during the 6-years the GOP had control of the White House, the Senate and the House they elected to do what?


    Basically the GOP does nothing. Ever. Except run their mouths.

  • cotton

    Is there any issue that pawlenty won’t flip-flop on? He’s making John Kerry look amazingly consistent.

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  • Kurlis

    No, it isn’t David. The reason is that the relationship between CO2 and climate change has been falsified. Carbon dioxide does not drive climate change. Hence, cap and trade is an exercise in futility which would accomplish absolutely nothing of any value at an extremely high cost to society.

  • amazed foreigner

    It’s because it is in the bible !!! God said after the great flood he would not mess up again with the human race. God bless America, particularly the GOP…