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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mitch McConnell: Advocate For Big Government Now?

The leading Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, is a big government man.

What? We thought Republicans were against big government. Say it ain't so!

Yes, indeed, as McConnell’s anti-EPA plan: Convince Republicans to welcome big-government climate regulation tells us:

Mitch McConnell is a coal man. During his hard-fought 2014 reelection campaign, McConnell promised voters in Kentucky coal country that he would do anything and everything he could to battle back against Barack Obama's "war on coal." If it dirtied the air he'd be for it. If it polluted aquafers he'd support it. Coal ash in every stream and two black lungs in every chest cavity! Vote McConnell!
McConnell's promise was that by taking on Obama and fighting the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed regulations mandating steep reductions in carbon emissions, he'd help bring back Kentucky's withering coal industry. What he conveniently overlooked is the fact that the Kentucky coal business owes its long, slow demise to simple economics: increased automation has drastically reduced the demand for labor; cheaper fuels, like natural gas, are steadily eating away at the overall demand for coal; and what coal remains in Kentucky is difficult to mine after over a century's worth of enthusiastic digging. Rolling back a few EPA regulations won't do much to change the industry's grim economic outlook.
But that doesn't mean McConnell isn't a man of his word. He's taking the fight to the EPA, but instead of going through Congress he's leading an unusual effort to appeal to the states directly, encouraging them to resist implementation of the carbon regulations. McConnell's campaign is strange not just because he's forgoing legislation, but also because he's straight-up asking the states to screw themselves over.
The EPA's climate regulations ask states to submit their own plans for meeting emissions goals. If those plans aren't in by next summer, the EPA will impose a federal plan on the noncompliant states. The thinking is that if a state develops its own proposal, it will be better tailored to the specific needs and unique characteristics of that state, whereas the federal plan will allow for far less flexibility and be more disruptive. McConnell's plan is to encourage states to simply refuse to comply, subject themselves to the federal regulatory regime, and trust that the EPA's climate plan will be invalidated by the courts.

This reminds us that the Republican Party is split right down the middle on climate change. It also reminds us that all their talk of downsizing government and privatizing government functions to the free market is mostly a lot of talk. In Texas, we call that “all boots and no cattle.” It's a losing battle the climate deniers are fighting. Ultimately, they are wrong and will lose the war. By the time the public rejects the deniers, anyone who supported them will have lost all credibility. It's amazing to see the Republicans self-destructing, but that's the ultimate end to this charade they're trying to maintain.