The GOP members of the House Energy and Commerce committee, led by Joe Barton of Texas, are, ironically, bereft of any ideas on energy and commerce — and climate. That is clear if you are watching the (painful) mark up of the Waxman-Markey bill on C-SPAN3 — which resumes today at 10 am EST and will again go deep into the evening.
And when a party has no ideas, their message implodes and they start a circular firing squad — in this case, attacking Barton. That has already begun, as two remarkable articles in the Politico make clear.
In the first, “Climate change: GOP turns on business to fight measure,” the Politico reporters can hardly contain their amazement that the GOP acknowledges their position on clean energy and climate is essentially anti-business:
Senate Republicans have come up with a novel way to fight the climate change bill working its way through the House: Tee off on Big Business, and tie it around the neck of the Democrats.
In a strategy memo obtained by POLITICO, Republican staffers for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works say Republicans should argue that Democrats are embracing “Wall Street traders,” “polluters” and “others in corporate America” who are “guilty of manipulating national climate policy to increase profits on the backs of consumers.”
The Republican role-reversal may be counterintuitive — GOP candidates routinely describe themselves as “pro-business” — but Republicans say it reflects their party’s new reality.
“Business is not always going to be a good friend of the Republicans, and that needs to be reflected in our strategy,” said MWR Strategies President Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist. “The GOP business model is probably busted forever. It started to break apart on TARP, and it could permanently break apart on climate change.”
While the GOP tries to hold the line against a massive climate change bill, a number of major corporations — including Duke Energy, Johnson & Johnson and Shell Corp. — are backing cap-and-trade proposals by the United States Climate Action Partnership coalition, a group of environmental groups and businesses advocating legislation to reduce greenhouse gases.
Democrats could hardly contain themselves over the inanity of the GOP position:
“I find it extremely amusing that suddenly the Democrats are being attacked as being too friendly to business creation. I don’t get it,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “No one is going to believe that the Republicans are attacking us for creating jobs and new businesses. It doesn’t make sense.”
In fact, the GOP position is so inane that even the GOP has begun attacking it — the surest sign that the party has no ideas. For instance, remember that Barton alternative energy plan (see “Contempt of Congress: House GOP reveals disdain for clean energy, livable climate with a more-of-the-same rehash of Cheney energy plan“)? Well, it ain’t a GOP plan, as the Politico notes in a piece, “Leaders cool on warming skeptic“:
Republican leaders aren’t backing a Barton alternative to the Waxman-Markey bill that would gut the 1990 Clean Air Act to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency and other state agencies from regulating carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases as pollutants. Instead, they’re backing an alternative crafted by Indiana’s Pence — who’s not even on the Energy and Commerce panel — that seeks to expand nuclear energy production, improve clean coal technology and “drill, baby, drill” for oil and gas in this country.
The entire piece is a death by a thousand cuts attack on the eminently mockable Barton — see Barton says regulating CO2 could ‘close down the New York and Boston marathons’ and Barton: humans should just ‘get shade’ — but instead of the attacks coming from some progressive blog, it comes from his own party:
… his unpredictability worries Republicans….
Party leaders, who still believe Republicans have the advantage on energy issues, want … don’t want to get bogged down in is a debate over climate science — or a litany of procedural arguments that make voters’ eyes glaze over.
“This is not a process fight,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Barton’s No. 2 in the climate change debate, whose arguments Monday echoed those party leaders are set to make.
… More recently, Barton has given other Republicans heartburn by threatening to make Waxman read his nearly 1,000-page bill in its entirety, a stalling tactic meant to anger the party in power.
The Texan pulled a similar stunt two years ago during consideration of legislation to expand a popular children’s health care program. In the eyes of most Republicans, it backfired: Members of the minority had drafted more than 150 amendments, but they never got the chance to offer them because then-Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) pulled the bill in retribution for having it read.
When his staff floated the idea of forcing the reading of the climate change measure, other aides to committee Republicans warned against it, people present said, arguing the outcome last time didn’t bode well for a repeat performance. Leadership echoed those concerns through other members of the committee, aides said.
Leadership “believe[s] Barton’s dilatory tactics will cloud the message,” said a Republican lobbyist who works closely with party leaders on energy and climate issues.
In the end, Barton blinked.
He didn’t ask the majority to read the bill — eliciting a sigh of relief from his GOP colleagues.
But Barton and his fellow committee Republicans have drafted more than 400 amendments to the bill, which could slow its consideration dramatically. He could also ask for his more-than-300-page alternative to be read as the committee tries to wrap up its work, making it even harder for Waxman to hit his self-imposed Memorial Day deadline.
“Bring a sleeping bag,” Barton said Monday.
“We’re trying to kill this bill or slow it way down,” he said Tuesday….
He has a master’s in engineering [Note to self: Don’t drive over any bridges he’s built] but his folksy comments have created public perception problems, as he’s sometimes oversimplifed complicated climate issues to the most homespun extremes.
Barton has argued that regulating global warming would “close down the New York and Boston marathons” because “20,000 marathoners” in a confined space could be considered “a single source of pollution, and you could regulate it.”
He gloated about an exchange with Energy Secretary Steven Chu earlier this year in which he asked the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, “How did all the oil and gas get to Alaska and under the Arctic Ocean?”
During the exchange that followed, a chuckling Chu briefly explained the geology of plate tectonics before Barton asked, “So it just drifted up there?”
“That’s certainly what happened,” Chu said before Waxman cut them both off.
Needless to say, there was nothing to gloat about in that exchange — see Joe Barton thinks he stumped Nobelist Chu, but instead revealed his own ignorance — or his plot to get his constituents beach front property.
Needless to say, the GOP, the “anti-business, anti-climate, anti-clean-energy party,” is devoid of ideas.
- Barton says the only way to stop a global pandemic is if everyone does nothing“
- Rep. Shimkus: “Man will not destroy this Earth. This Earth will not be destroyed by a flood.” Rep. Barton: “I wish I had another dozen John Shimkuses on the committee.”