Fareed Zakaria — prominent foreign policy writer, Newsweek International editor, Washington Post columnist — uses President Obama’s campaign words to suggest it’s time for the president to devote his attention to energy policy:
During the 2008 campaign — before the global economic crisis — Barack Obama said the top three things he wanted to accomplish as president included withdrawing troops from Iraq, reforming health care and putting in place a new energy policy. A health-care bill has passed, and U.S. combat troops are on their way out of Iraq later this year.
So it’s time for energy policy, right? (Aside from the offshore drilling expansion, which was more politics than policy.) And if it’s Obama’s priority, it should be time for the political media to give it more attention too. It’s nice to see a foreign-policy pundit other than Thomas Friedman bring this up.
Of course, “before the global economic crisis” is a pretty big qualifier — it changes a lot on the political landscape. You might argue that it scrambles all the priorities.
But as Matt Yglesias likes to note, lawmakers can’t “focus on jobs” without focusing on actual changes that might create jobs. And the House clean-energy bill would create 1.9 million jobs, according to one economic study by University of California at Berkeley, the University of Illinois, and Yale University researchers [PDF]. (Dan Weiss has more.)
Zakaria’s comment, by the way, is from his interview with Energy Secretary Steven Chu, which contains some good stuff. Chu says the key is getting a solid carbon price in place:
Do you think that having a price on carbon is crucial?
I do. I absolutely believe a price on carbon is essential — that will send a very important long-term signal. [But] if it’s five years from now, I think it will be truly tragic, because other countries, notably China, are moving ahead so aggressively. They see this as their economic opportunity to lead in the next industrial revolution.