McCain Gas Tax Madness

I tried to say some nice things about McCain's seemingly rational climate change position in my recent Commonweal essay, but then he has to go and mess everything up by proposing to eliminate the gas tax for a while. Here's the take on this over at Climate Progress:

Lets be very clear the greatest threat to the long-term health and well-being of this country is unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions. The key strategy that McCain and Obama and Clinton have embraced is a cap on emissions coupled with a trading system that sets a market price for carbon dioxide. That is how you get decarbonization at the lowest possible cost. Now, the greatest threat to the success of a cap and trade system is that somebody might artificially limit the carbon price, either through a safety valve designed into the system (see here) or because some weak-kneed President (or Congress) walks away from that price the first time the economy suffers a downturn.McCain would appear to be that weak-kneed Presidential hopeful especially given that he has also walked away from using mandatory to describe his cap and trade system (see here and here). Perhaps this is what he means by not mandatory the cap disappears the first time there is a recession or energy prices spike.

Oh, yeah, and Bush seems still to be in denial about the gravity of the situation. Here's an analysis of his latest nonsense from Wired:

Bush is finally publicly admitting that emissions should be curbed because they affect the climate. That's fine, but his proposed response doesn't logically follow from that statement of fact. If you think the greenhouse gas emissions are a problem, then you should craft a solution that reduces them. But Bush, instead, is suggesting that no mandatory caps be put in place, that no specific targets be fixed in the near term, and that no moratorium be called on coal plant production.

Maybe the Holy Father can do some John Paul II-style finger-wagging on this one to shame the president into action.

Eduardo M. Peñalver is the Allan R. Tessler Dean of the Cornell Law School. The views expressed in the piece are his own, and should not be attributed to Cornell University or Cornell Law School.

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