This week the Middle Finger Flag gets waved at the Democrats. Yeah, that’s right, the whole lot of ’em.
Recently Obama released a budget proposal that included a carbon cap-and-trade plan that would auction — rather than give away to polluting companies — 100 percent of the pollution credits. This is exactly what every policy analyst, economist, social justice advocate, and green recommends. It puts the money from carbon pricing in public hands rather than creating a windfall for the very corporations that created the problem. It allows the feds to rebate most of the dough back to taxpayers (to compensate for the bump in energy prices) and spend the rest on clean energy.
But apparently nobody told the Democratic spokesninnies why that’s the right way to go. Republicans and fossil-state Democrats (even Obama backer Warren Buffet!) are out calling it an “energy tax” and nobody, not Democrats in Congress, not even members of the Obama administration, seems to be able to mount a coherent defense. They’re out mumbling and pointing to unrelated tax cuts and waving their hands at oil dependence and otherwise dodging the question. People! You’re right on the merits! Don’t you remember the “drill baby drill” debacle? Doesn’t anyone know how to play this game?
Speaking of effective spokespeople, the green economy movement has a few. OK, a very few. And one of them is Van Jones. So we’re giving a provisional thumbs up to the Obama administration for bringing Jones into the fold. Maybe he can teach them how to talk about this stuff in a way that doesn’t sound weasely.
But this thumb can turn to a finger in a heartbeat. (Don’t make us!) Jones’ primary strength is his ability to communicate and inspire. If the administration puts him at a desk pushing paper, it will have removed one of the movement’s few effective voices, for little gain. The Obamans need to use Jones as an evangelist. Take those pinheads Geithner and Orszag off the teevee and put Jones up there, making the case for smart carbon policy in a way that connects beyond the pinhead demographic.
The administration has picked up a bazooka. They better start firing it!