The following is a speech written for President Obama in advance of the Senate introducing a climate/energy/jobs bill that Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) had scheduled to introduce this past Monday.
“Yes, if we pass this energy legislation, a small price on carbon will likely show up on your gasoline or electricity bill. I’m not going to lie. But it is an investment that will pay off in so many ways. It will spur innovation in energy efficiency that will actually lower the total amount you pay for driving, heating or cooling. It will reduce carbon pollution in the air we breathe and make us healthier as a country. It will reduce the money we are sending to nations that crush democracy and promote intolerance. It will strengthen the dollar. It will make us more energy secure, environmentally secure and strategically secure. Sure, our opponents will scream ‘carbon tax!’ Well, what do you think you’re paying now to OPEC? The only difference between me and my opponents is that I want to keep any revenue we generate here to build American schools, American highways, American high-speed rail, American research labs and American economic strength. It’s just a little tick I have: I like to see our spending build our country. They don’t care. They are perfectly happy to see all the money you spend to fill your tank or heat your home go overseas, so we end up funding both sides in the war on terrorism — our military and their extremists.”
The author, in a fit of fantasy, is Thomas Friedman, the New York Times esteemed columnist.
He was ruing the legislation was sidelined because one of its authors, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) threw a fit and withdrew his support because at the time it appeared Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) was going to replace its priority with a new immigration reform law which hasn't even been crafted.
"For the first time," Friedman wrote, the government would "put a long-term fixed price on carbon — precisely the kind of price signal U.S. industry and consumers need to start really shifting the economy to clean-power innovations."
He said the bipartisan bill has the support of key industry players and the only way to get it jump started is President Obama's leadership. The president may have done just that Wednesday with the administration's announcement that it will allow construction of an off-shore wind farm near Cape Cod in Nantucket Sound.
"President Obama has done a superb job in securing stimulus money for green-technology and in using his regulatory powers to compel the auto industry to improve mileage standards to a whole new level. But he has always been rather coy when it comes to when and how much he will personally push an energy/climate bill that would fix a price on carbon-emitting fuels," Friedman wrote.
To counter Republicans running around screaming “carbon tax” and hurting Democrats in the midterm elections, Obama needs to take the leadership, he said.
"He needs to confront it head-on, because — call me crazy — I think doing the right and hard thing here will actually be good politics, too. I’d love to see the president come out, guns blazing with this message."
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