The most effective, most efficient way to rein in that consumption and make clean energy price-competitive would be to slap a heavy tax on carbon. (Ideally, much of the revenue would be rebated to the public as a cut in the payroll tax, since it makes more sense to tax things we want to discourage, such as oil use, than things we want to encourage, such as work.) This is what some European countries have done, and it may well be what Obama would do if he had the kind of legislative power that European prime ministers have and that many Americans, of all political persuasions, assume that he has, too.
But he doesn’t. As he did with health care, Obama is trying for the maximum that, in his judgment, our rusty, clanking legislative sausage-maker is capable of delivering.
The confused lines of authority that the Times noted are still too muddled. Though it’s clear that the President was personally engaged from the start, allowing the opposite impression to take hold was a failure of governance, not just of public relations. And, as he acknowledged in his speech, his Administration was laggard in cleaning up the corrupt mess it inherited at the Minerals Management Service. But, unlike his most vociferous Republican critics, he is trying to move the country away from its abject subservience to oil. A shakedown? What Obama is trying for, in his methodical, sometimes maddening way, is a shakeup. MORE...
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Hertzberg on Obama and the Gulf Oil "Spill"
Hendrik Hertzberg (The New Yorker):