Monday, December 27, 2010

Conservatives Make Their Own Reality: Clean Air Act Edition

It's incredible how many Republicans were rabidly behind the unitary executive wielding unlimited power two years ago & how many Republicans today rail about checks & balances. (To be fair, James Joyner is one of the few conservatives willing to call out Bush administration jackassery.)

An incredible 71 percent of Americans say the federal government should regulate carbon pollution. Polls show that support is remarkably deep - strong majorities support regulation even if it would cost them money.

In the face of that mandate, how do conservatives reconcile their continued opposition to action? James Joyner says let's play make believe!
Frustrated that it couldn’t achieve desired environmental legislation despite huge majorities in both Houses of Congress, the Obama administration has decided to govern by executive fiat. [...]

Presidents have, since the days of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, made unilateral decisions arguably outside the scope of their Constitutional power and dared Congress or the Courts to stop them. The practice has increased over time and been made easier by Congress having delegated much of its power to Executive agencies. The consequence is an administrative state where the elected representatives of the people have a mostly reactive role, acting to check these agencies, rather than making affirmative decisions on national policy.
Let's review all the realities Joyner must ignore to make his argument here:

  • The Obama administration is acting on the direction of Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, a decision from 2007's conservative Supreme Court. That decision found the Bush II administration's argument for why it shouldn't have to regulate carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act "inadequate."
  • The Clean Air Act was passed by a Democratic Congress & signed by a Republican president (Bush I).
  • Clean energy & climate legislation passed the House & had majority support in the Senate but failed to pass because Senate Republicans were willing to abuse the filibuster in historic numbers.
  • How many individual EPA regulations get an up or down vote before the full Congress? Just six months ago, the Senate confirmed its approval of carbon regulations under the Clean Air Act (the House did not vote but would certainly have overwhelmingly approved).

It's the classic move of a climate peacock for Joyner to claim his opposition to climate action is based on some sort of procedural grievance. Well, you know, I'm not some science-denying fossil fuel-shilling ignoramus like Sen. Jim Inhofe ... but but but ... what would Jefferson say?

What would Jefferson do about global warming? I think Jefferson would get off his ass & do something instead of sitting around conjuring whiny complaints about process. Don't you?
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