Anonymous GOP Staffer: Climate Change is Real and Needs to Be Addressed
July 17, 2013
The good news is that someone in the GOP did say it. The bad news is they had a bag over their head.
RealClearScience ran this must-read piece, “How the GOP Could Win the Climate Debate,” with the following byline: “Eric Bradenson, writing under a pen name to protect his boss and himself, is a conservative staffer on Capitol Hill working for a House Republican. His views are his own.”
One might call this a nom de plume of smoke. Or Profiles in Discourage.
The editors noted, “This article was awarded second place in the “Young Conservative Thought Leaders” contest from the Energy & Enterprise Initiative at George Mason University.” [The first place winner is here.]
The E&EI folks were a tad blunter, “Bradenson is working for a Republican House Member and opted to remain anonymous for job security reasons.” The Tea Party-driven national GOP have become like the Gong Show — and the only people willing to try a standup act are wearing a bag on their head.
Someone in the GOP needs to say it: conservation is conservative; climate change is real; and conservatives need to lead on solutions because we have better answers than the other side.
Republicans don’t have to choose between conceding to the left and denying the science. There are genuine pro-growth solutions that align with conservative values. Republicans can admit that 97 percent of scientists just might be right without having to embrace Democratic ideas that would grow government.
In the past year, a movement of conservatives outside of Congress has pushed a market-based solution to climate change. This conservative alternative envisions a phase-out of subsidies for all sources of energy coupled with a revenue-neutral carbon tax swap. This is exactly the kind of proposal that gives Republicans the chance to win both in a messaging battle and on policy merits.
Energy subsidies come in many forms and most serve as a proxy for a price on carbon. Conservatives want to get rid of subsidies because they’re wasteful and inefficient and allow government to pick winners and losers in the market. Government subsidies also result in market uncertainty, rent-seeking problems, and inefficient allocation of capital. Importantly, getting rid of these wasteful expenditures can help reduce our deficit.
As the subsidies are being phased out, a revenue-neutral carbon tax swap should be phased in. A proposal like this wouldn’t force individuals to choose one energy source over another. It would simply “internalize the externalities” associated with the burning of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases, and the market would sort the rest out.
There is a crucial piece of the carbon tax swap puzzle that will separate many liberals from conservatives. The left will attempt to use the carbon tax as a cash cow for the federal government, using the revenues to pay for legislators’ pet projects or to keep subsidies flowing to the preferred energy source du jour.
The recent proposal by Senators Barbara Boxer and Bernie Sanders, for example, would spend 40 percent of carbon tax revenue on the Senators’ pet projects. It takes a concept that should have the intention of leveling out the market and then fundamentally distorts it by picking winners and losers with more government spending.
Republicans can win this debate by making it very clear: our carbon tax will not grow government. It will not take money out of hard-working American’s pockets to pay for more federal spending. It will instead be used to cut federal taxes, and it must be revenue neutral.