Check this second paragraph from an Associated Press story about the House battle to head the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which would play a critical role in any global warming legislation:
Obama has said he wants to act quickly on climate change. But crucial bipartisan support could be tested if liberal California Rep. Henry Waxman succeeds at unseating Chairman John Dingell of Michigan, the panel’s top Democrat for 28 years and a key ally of automakers and electric utilities.
In other words, if House has a chairman like Waxman who actually wants the strong global warming legislation Obama called for during the campaign, then that would put the legislation at risk.
But if the House has a chairman who is “a key ally of automakers and electric utilities” like Dingell, who spent all of the last Congress being a thorn in the side of congressional leaders who wanted strong global warming legislation, then that would be great for Obama to “act quickly” with “crucial bipartisan support.”
That literally makes no sense.
The article is also highly misleading by implying that Dingell and Obama share the same global warming position:
Last month Dingell and Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., unveiled a draft global warming bill based on dozens of hearings and white papers for reducing greenhouse gases by 80 percent by 2050 _ a reduction in line with what Obama has proposed.
Technically true, but there are lots of devils in the Dingell-Boucher details that make hitting the target dubious.
Further, Dingell’s ally Boucher said in a recent interview that “The first way we can control program costs is by not charging industrial emitters.” That is in direct opposition to Obama’s stated position (PDF file) of having “all industries pay for every ton of emissions they release, rather than giving these valuable emission rights away to companies on the basis of their past pollution.”
Of course, the fact that Dingell now supports any global warming bill at all is a major move leftward for him. But that only underscores the ridiculousness of the AP article.
Dingell moved because he was pushed to move by a strong progressive wind generated by the public and the congressional leadership.
Maybe Rep. Waxman would make it harder for good legislation to get passed by alienating right-leaning congresspeople. Or, maybe Waxman would help write good legislation that would generate enthusiastic support and pressure other politicians to hop on the bandwagon.
Maybe Rep. Dingell would eventually prove a useful ally in getting strong legislation passed. But let’s not forget, these past two years he’s already been the chairman! And strong legislation did not pass.
On what evidence should reporters presume Dingell’s chairmanship is inherently beneficial?
America’s progressive majority has long been supportive of strong action to avert a climate crisis. There is no basis to presume that having a committee chairman whose record has long been in line with the progressive majority is in any way a political setback to Obama’s agenda.