Hungry Hungry Hypocrites: Trump and Perry’s coal bailouts and Pruitt’s pricey pens
Last week, Scott Pruitt went on a conservative media blitz hitting up friendly outlets for softball interviews. In a chat with former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn, of Trump-friendly Sinclair, Pruitt claims he cares “so much about taxpayer money.” Given Pruitt’s first class travel on the taxpayer dime and new reports that he spent $1,560 on a dozen personalized pens, it doesn’t take too keen an eye to see some hypocrisy. But in so much as Pruitt cares about the money because he likes to spend it, he might not be lying. (On the other hand, if he said he cared about taxpayer’s health…)
On the same note, it doesn’t take a sharp eye to spot the hypocrisy of Trump’s decision to invoke national security powers to bail out coal and nuclear plants. Dictating the operations of the electricity grid is a classic example of liberal “command and control” policy–an odd decision from the party ostensibly for personal responsibility, small government and the free market.
In terms of climate, “command and control” hasn’t really been a liberal policy preference for years. Instead, democrats have supported conservative-friendly free market-based policies like cap and trade, a price on carbon, and subsidies for renewables. But if Trump can demand the free market buy coal, why can’t liberals demand the opposite?
Coincidently, that’s more or less the subject of a new open access paper in Climatic Change, which looks at the sort of supply side policies that could tackle fossil fuel use. David Roberts at Vox breaks down the paper, which looks at the differences between supply- and demand-side policies.
Traditionally, climate policy has focused on the demand side of things: the free market friendly policies that seek out ways to reduce the demand for fossil fuels. But supply side remedies, like the opposite of Trump’s “buy uneconomical coal” policy, potentially offer stronger solutions. Whether it’s just putting an end to fossil fuel subsidies or straight up banning their use, or direct subsidies for renewable infrastructure or requiring their use (like California’s solar rooftop mandate) the simplicity and directness of these policies offer a certainty not found in cap and trade. And now that Trump’s given lie to the “we shouldn’t pick winners and losers” rhetoric that’s never really been true, there’s no reason for Democrats not to embrace a command and control, supply-side approach.
After all, Trump’s exercising his authority to nationalize private industry under a pair of national security laws. And there is a compelling argument that a World War II-scale mobilization is what’s needed to truly tackle climate change. Now that Trump’s invoked a grand national security move in the name of outdated energy sources, conservatives who aren’t staunchly and publicly registering their opposition to this policy can no longer argue in good faith that government shouldn’t tinker with the free market.
At this point in the Trump presidency, of course, we have only faint hope for a modicum of intellectual honesty and consistency. We’re sure Trump, Perry and Pruitt will continue prattling on with the obvious lie about not picking winners and losers.
To be fair, that’s half right. By focusing on the failing industries who can’t cut it in the free market and not caring “so much about taxpayer money” that gets wasted supporting them, Pruitt, Trump and Perry aren’t picking winners and losers.
They’re just picking losers.
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(Originally appeared at DailyKos. Image CC by DonkeyHotey on Flickr.)