Skip to main content

The Outer Limits of Debate

michelebachmannb_10x15 Congress is barely grazing over the energy issues that will doubtless absorb them more as the year goes along, so we thought we wouldn’t be able to declare the outer limits of this debate for quite some time. By “outer limits,” we simply mean the most extreme position imaginable for or against an emerging policy.

We may have found the outer limits on cap-and trade, per Smart Politics:

“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us ‘having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,’ and the people – we the people – are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States.”

This is Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) (Smart Politics operates from the University of Minnesota).

We’re genuinely surprised that anyone can gin up this level of rhetoric on cap-and-trade – maybe Bachmann just goes to the outer limits on any given topic.

---

We wandered over to her Web site to see what’s what and found that she is hosting a public hearing on cap-and-trade in St. Cloud on April 9. You can find out about that here.

---

Bachmann also has a blog and posted a bit more on the subject:

President Obama’s current proposal aims to cut carbon emissions by more than 3 times that of last year’s proposal – 83%. John Feehery, writing in The Hill's Pundits Blog last week, noted that using Director Orszag’s analysis, this would mean that the average family will pay close to $4,000 a year, or $333 a month.

The White House seems to acknowledge that the costs of this tax will impact low-income families hardest and suggests a $500-a-year subsidy. But, that doesn’t even cover two-months cost for the average family. And, it doesn’t take into account the increased costs for everything from groceries to school supplies that a carbon tax will also impose on everyone.

To be honest, this doesn’t really scan. Bachmann is extrapolating, along with Feehery, what the average family would pay at a point of 83 percent carbon reduction without taking account of the replacement technologies – including nuclear energy – that would mitigate costs considerably. And that point is still over a decade away.

Also, calling this a tax isn’t really on the nose:  you can create a tax on carbon emissions directly; it’s actually considered a more liberal, or business-unfriendly, route than cap-and trade. Cap-and-trade creates a market for credits that can benefit energy producers and consumers (while, admittedly, punishing other energy producers and consumers.) Calling it a tax is more political than accurate.

We’re not quite sure of Bachmann’s stance here – it seems populist in nature, but not really fully thought out enough to make it functional. She seems to doubt the science behind climate change, but also favors energy efficiency.

We expect it will become more coherent as the subject becomes more central. Maybe that hearing in St. Cloud will clarify her position a bit more.

Herself. Finding a relaxed picture of Rep. Bachmann proved a bit tough. She’s obviously quite the firebrand. With Al Franken and Jesse Ventura (and Walter Mondale and Paul Wellstone), Minnesota has a fascinating political culture.

Comments

Anonymous said…
don't count on any coherence coming from Michelle. It's kinda hard to determine if she says stuff like that to make noise or really believes it.
Max Epstein said…
I've read quite a bit of the modeling results on cap/trade, including from Orszag's CBO last year, and $4000/yr/household sounded really high. When I read the blog post I couldn't believe how foolish an extrapolation it was.

Orszag was testifying regarding Cap/Trade proposals floating around Congress at the time. I wish he had given a time frame, but considering that the relevant bills would have reduced emissions 15% by around 2020, I think its a fair assumption that was his time frame.

Obama's cap/trade certainly does not propose cutting carbon emissions 83% by 2020. Even if it did that would be an asinine extrapolation. But to say because a 15% by 2020 cut costs $X/yr that an 83% by 2050 costs 4X/yr is incomprehensibly stupid to me. Again, Orszag's time frame might not have been 2020 exactly,(2022? "ten years?") but it certainly wasn't 15% by 2050 because that would have had no bearing on any of the legislation the Congressmen were interested in.
Robert Synnott said…
This would seem to be par for the course for her; she's generally a bit of a nut. Other hobbies include pushing for 'intelligent design' in schools, and making up nonsense about Iraq. Oh, and of course, an unreasoning fear of homosexuals and gambling.

She's the one who called for an investigation into who in Congress was 'pro-American' and who 'anti-American'. You really should not expect any sort of sense out of her.
Anonymous said…
Seems like she's missing the point - the root cause here is that the carbon emitters are now getting a free ride - the costs associated with their pollution do not appear in the costs of their goods & services. So, we are all paying now for that (sick time, disintegrating paint and infrastructure decay, etc etc). "Good" legislation would end that, while costing us individually no more than we're paying now (and even less, if the legislation is really good).
David Walters said…
She hasn't a clue...about much. She's an embarrassment to even the most conservative of Republicans in Congress. I've seen here on c-span and you-tube. It's like a skit from SNL.

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…