We knew that when Obama and Speaker Face Lift placed men like Henry Waxman and Edward Markey in charge of climate change legislation, that those two would be likely to go for the gusto so to speak. They are, after all, radicals where climate change is concerned. And the ideas they have proposed show that side of them with startling clerity. Kimberly Strassel wonders if Waxman and Markey will overreach so that their fellow Democrats might sink their battleship.
To listen to Congressman Jim Matheson is something else. During opening statements, the Utah Democrat detailed 14 big problems he had with the bill, and told me later that if he hadn’t been limited to five minutes, “I might have had more.” Mr. Matheson is one of about 10 moderate committee Democrats who are less than thrilled with the Waxman climate extravaganza, and who may yet stymie one of Barack Obama’s signature issues. If so, the president can thank Democratic liberals, who are engaging in one of their first big cases of overreach.
Not that you couldn’t see this coming even last year, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi engineered her coup against former Energy chairman John Dingell. House greens had been boiling over the Michigan veteran’s cautious approach to climate-legislation. Mr. Dingell’s mistake was understanding that when it comes to energy legislation, the divides aren’t among parties, but among regions. Design a bill that socks it to all those manufacturing, oil-producing, coal-producing, coal-using states, and say goodbye to the very Democrats necessary to pass that bill.
Such sense didn’t deter Mrs. Pelosi, who first tried an end-run around Mr. Dingell in 2007 by putting Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey in charge of a new global-warming committee. When that didn’t get her a bill, she helped her fellow Californian, Mr. Waxman, unseat Mr. Dingell. Environmentalists threw a party, and the Waxman-Markey duo got busy on legislation to please their coastal crowds.
Cap and trade was already going to be a brawl, but the two upped the ante by including tougher targets and restrictions. If that weren’t enough, they rolled in every other item on the green wish list: a renewable electricity standard; a low-carbon fuel standard; a broader renewable fuels policy; new efficiency standards. Any one of these is a monumental fight on its own. Put together they risk an intra-party committee mutiny.
So, the basic question is how far will they try to go. Certainly, Democrats from those areas that would be hurt by cap and trade and other “green utopian” ideals are not going to slit their own political throats. I would also doubt that the Democratic Party wishes to risk losing those House and Senate seats either.
So, how much of the Waxman/Markey nonsense will be left behind? How far will the Democrats try to go. The balance they strike will be tough to get right. A little too much and they pay heavy prices, both in 2010 and 2012. If they do not go far enough, how will their Green base react?
Personally, I doubt Obama will risk political power, even with his new boy toy Specter in tow. He wants to win in 2012. Yes, he has gone too far, on spending, which will only get less popular, and his tax increases, will not help his approval rating either and that leaves a door open to the GOP. Is it a 1994-sized door? Will the GOP exploit it? Will Obama learn from his mistake, as BillClinton did? Recall Clinton used the 1994 Republican Revolution to solidify HIS legacy by co-opting Republican ideals and programs. He was smart enough to put political success above ideology. Is Obama that bright?
H/T Hot Air
Dick Morris thinks Obama has already hamstrung himself, and raises some of the same points I do.
By 42-8, the Fox News poll (conducted on April 22-23) found that voters felt Obama had expanded government rather than contracted it (42 percent said it was the same size) and, by 46-30, reported believing that big government was more of a danger to the nation than big business. (By 50-23, they said Obama felt big business was more dangerous.)
By 62-20, they said government spending, under Obama, was “out of control.”
So if voters differ so fundamentally with the president on the very essence of his program, why do they accord him high ratings? They are like the recently married bride who took her vows 100 days ago. It would be a disaster for her life if she decides that she really doesn’t like her husband. But she keeps noticing things about him that she can’t stand. It will be a while before she walks out the door or even comes to terms with her own doubts, but it is probably inevitable that she will.
For Americans to conclude that they disapprove of their president in the midst of an earth-shaking crisis is very difficult. But as Obama’s daily line moves from “I inherited this mess” to “There are faint signs of light,” the clock starts ticking. If there is no recovery for the next six months — and I don’t think there will be — Obama will inevitably become part of the problem, not part of the solution.
And then will come his heavy lifting. He has yet to raise taxes, regiment healthcare or provide amnesty for illegal immigrants. He hasn’t closed down the car companies he now runs and he has not yet forced a 50 percent hike in utility bills with his cap-and-trade legislation. These are all the goodies he has in store for us all.