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Bloggers agree that Cap & Trade prospects are dim; disagree on Health Care chances:

This week's National Journal poll of bloggers asked about the chances that Congress will pass Cap & Trade and health care bills. As for "How likely is Congress to enact comprehensive health reform legislation this year?" 80% of the Left, but only 42% of the Right, thought that passage was "very" or "somewhat likely."

I voted for "very likely," and wrote: "Very likely to pass something that will be called 'comprehensive health reform,' due to political needs to demonstrate a major accomplishment. Prospects for creating a government-run program appear to be dimming, fortunately."

Regarding "How likely is Congress to enact 'cap and trade' legislation this year to curb global warming?" (there is supposed to be a House vote on Friday), 71% of the Left said "very" or "somewhat unlikely." Suprisingly, only 50% of the Right thought it unlikely. This is an interesting result, since usually each side is relatively more optimistic about the prospects for whatever particular eventuality that side favors.

I voted "somewhat unlikely," and explained "Any 'cap and trade' that can actually pass will probably be a C&T in name only, with so many special exemptions as to be nearly meaningless in terms of carbon reduction -- although of enduring importance as a venue for rent-seeking and special interest gamesmanship."

In previous weeks, some VC commenters have wondered about the significance of the Blogger Poll. I suppose that the answer is that it has the same significance as the National Journal's long-running polls of "political insiders." (Or, most recently, of "congressional insiders.") For people who are professional participants in U.S. politics or government--a group which probably comprises close to 100% of National Journal print subscribers--knowing what the "insiders" think is interesting and important in itself. Of course, the insiders can sometimes be seriously mistaken. (As in an early 2004 insiders poll in which most of the Democrats thought that Howard Dean had a near-lock on the presidential nomination.) Nevertheless, it is useful for a political professional to know what the insiders happen to be thinking this week. Similarly, it is useful for a professional to know what the political bloggers are thinking, regardless of whether the professional estimates that the bloggers are correct. National Journal's on-line audience does include some non-professionals, but these readers are self-selected to be, at least, highly interested in politics, and so for them, knowing what the insiders or the bloggers think can also be interesting.

rosetta's stones:
The sudden call for a vote on cap and trade means that not only is it as dead as disco, but that the opponents are demanding it be publicly scourged and dragged through the streets.

It's not a good sign if Obama is out yapping for health care reform, and he wouldn't be doing so if everything was moving along smoothly. He didn't campaign on it to any significant degree that I recall, so it's incongruous for him to be doing so now. I'd say they'll pass something cosmetic, and hope nobody calls them on the pricetag of even that.

I think the recent talk about immigration reform is a head fake, as Obama and his friends in Congress know opposition to their other plans is gaining strength, and they want to fragment it if they can.

Poor Obama, he traded his birthright for $700B worth of TARP pottage, and a crummy t-shirt with Geithner's picture on it.
6.25.2009 7:39pm
mcbain:
you know, this administration is really growing on me.
6.25.2009 8:04pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
RS,

Not sure if you count primary material, but health coverage was one of the issues Obama used to clobber Clinton. That and Iraq, which I see today at least some Iraqis are now begging for the troops to stay.
6.25.2009 9:07pm
Eli Rabett (www):
The hammer is that the EPA will regulate CO2 emissions if Congress does not.
6.26.2009 12:00am
Cornellian (mail):
I'm fine with a symbolic vote on a bill that accomplishes nothing since I'm not a big fan of cap and trade to begin with, or any measure that requires us to regress to pre-industrial age carbon output while every other country is busy supplanting what's left of our industrial base.
6.26.2009 12:44am
bender:
Cornellian--If by every other country you mean China and India, who will be under tremendous pressure to get on board. China and the US both blame each other for not taking further measures. China was at least a Kyoto signatory, even if they never agreed to caps.

Other than those two, everyone including Russia signed on to Kyoto. Germany made a major shift to non-carbon sources of energy years ago and their manufacturing base is very much intact. Kyoto is a cap and trade system that's missing the world's biggest polluter (I say biggest b/c even though I believe China has surpassed us in this area--we're the biggest consumer of their goods).
6.26.2009 12:59am
Bruce Hayden (mail):
Cornellian--If by every other country you mean China and India, who will be under tremendous pressure to get on board. China and the US both blame each other for not taking further measures. China was at least a Kyoto signatory, even if they never agreed to caps.
I think that this is somewhere between naive and crazy, with the country that is bringing a new coal plant on-line somewhere around once a week.
Other than those two, everyone including Russia signed on to Kyoto. Germany made a major shift to non-carbon sources of energy years ago and their manufacturing base is very much intact. Kyoto is a cap and trade system that's missing the world's biggest polluter (I say biggest b/c even though I believe China has surpassed us in this area--we're the biggest consumer of their goods).
What you seem to be missing is that most of the countries that signed on to Kyoto are doing worse, in comparison, than we are, with a couple of key exceptions - the UK and I think parts of Eastern Europe. And those countries only look good because of artificially picking the start date. The UK looked good because of its conversion from coal to natural gas - a result of its North Sea production, and Eastern Europe because of the fall of Communism.

So, it was a sucker game from day one, agreed to by the U.S. delegation (Al Gore?) despite its obvious bias against us, likely because they knew the Senate would never ratify it.

Nevertheless, you skip over all the important complications. For one, you presuppose that the threat is not only the most critical facing us, but that this is the most efficient and cheapest way to address it (and doing so without the biggest "polluter" being on board, but rather, increasing its "pollution" as fast as it can). This at a time when it is becoming ever more evident that much of any Global Warming is the result of natural causes, and, indeed, that we may instead be entering another mini-Ice age. You assume that this threat is important enough that it is worthwhile destroying our economy over it.

You also ignore the rent-seeking that is implicit in the "trade" part of cap and trade. How indeed have so many industries gotten indulgences written into the law (we think, since we haven't had a chance to see the bill yet)? The answer is the usual way that legislation gets done - by bribing politicians. And you seem to accept that as good.
6.26.2009 2:53am
Bruce Hayden (mail):
The sudden call for a vote on cap and trade means that not only is it as dead as disco, but that the opponents are demanding it be publicly scourged and dragged through the streets.
I think that they know that even if it passed the House, it wouldn't pass the Senate, with all those farm state and rust belt Democrats fending off panicked constituents.

But I suspect that a lot of the 1st and 2nd term Democrats in the House are panicked too, since passing this bill would likely guarantee a defeat in 2010. Why? Because most of their seats were held by Republicans 4 years ago. Most come from swing, or even Republican, districts, and imposing this tax on their constituents in the midst of a major recession, esp. after voting for the "stimulus" bill without having had a chance to read it, would invariably be seen as grossly irresponsible.

What must be remembered is that neither Global Warming, nor health care reform are being seen by a large majority of American voters as the most important issues facing us today. Why the rush then to pass these bills? If either were to pass, the Democrats voting for them would have to return soon to their constituents and justify why they voted for them, in the midst of the recession.
6.26.2009 3:04am
Mr L (mail):
Why the rush then to pass these bills?

As more than one administration official has put it, "never waste a good crisis."
6.26.2009 6:22am
Houston Lawyer:
I saw an ad on TV last night talking about how our eating habits lead to the production of excess greenhouse gasses. Cap and trade won't be enough, they're going after livestock next.
6.26.2009 8:56am
rosetta's stones:

"...imposing this tax on their constituents in the midst of a major recession, esp. after voting for the "stimulus" bill without having had a chance to read it, would invariably be seen as grossly irresponsible."


Yes, the campaign commercials write themselves. Interesting how quickly things change. Starting a couple months ago and even still now, my district's Representative, Thaddeus McCotter, was being attacked for not supporting the Spendulus bill. Lots of out of state cash being lined up, and the original plan was to take him out, and leverage Obama's public opinion popularity to do it, presumably.

Don't look so good right now, does it? You wanna be a liberal running on big spending and cap and trade right now? You wanna be a Blue Dog with that burden on your back? I doubt they do, and this is why I don't get excited about these nominal "takeovers" in Congress, or even the WH. Things have a way of evening out, and both sides would be and are supporting the recent massive spending, so what's the difference?

Soronel, I don't doubt that Obama had detailed white papers on health care and everything else. They all do, and the wonks parsed them and compared to Hillary no doubt, but Hillary is on record as a big government solutionist here as we know, so I doubt that was as big an issue as you're making out. And, it certainly wasn't an issue much in the general election, other than the senior scare Obama laid on, which does tend to work as we know.

You need broad support for these types of inititiatives, in order to pull them off successfully. Bush campaigned on that Medicare stuff, and went for it once in office, but even that required Delay's illegitimate parliamentary shenanigans to ram through, plus the opposition's support. Take away either, and it's as dead as Bush's push to reform SS.

Obama didn't push for broad support in his campaign, didn't work to marshal it, so he really can't claim any, and might not get it in any event.

I get the small sense that we're moving away from the "comprehensive" way of doing business, and TARP is the talisman for that movement. People intuitively know that it's unproductive if not dangerous to act this way. The sausage making is inevitable, but there are physical limits on sausage size, even assuming they've long blown past the Constitutional limits.

Eli, the EPA can attempt to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, but without Congressional support, they're in for a very rough ride. Obama will come under heavy pressure, directly, and it'll be of the deadly variety... state governors withholding their full political support for his reelection. He'll bend, of course. What does he care about the Cali and Mass zealots? They're gonna vote for him no matter what he does.
6.26.2009 9:07am
geokstr (mail):

Mr L:

Why the rush then to pass these bills?

As more than one administration official has put it, "never waste a good crisis."

Especially when you've worked tirelessly for two generations to create it, and even better, are in the heady position to pseudo-credibly but totally fraudulently shift all the blame onto your opponents. Those Alinsky/Cloward-Piven moments don't come along too often. If this one fails, socialism's wall might be really be coming down this time.
6.26.2009 4:29pm
Fat Man (mail) (www):
"The hammer is that the EPA will regulate CO2 emissions if Congress does not."

The EPA will be issuing litigation opportunities.
6.26.2009 8:05pm
Patrick M (mail):

I'm fine with a symbolic vote on a bill that accomplishes nothing since I'm not a big fan of cap and trade to begin with, or any measure that requires us to regress to pre-industrial age carbon output while every other country is busy supplanting what's left of our industrial base.

But we get the worst of both worlds: The bill adds huge 1200 page regulatory burdens to energy use, in effect a huge tax on energy consumers, which will ship industrial production overseas (bye bye jobs) ... *AND* has enough special interest loopholes so that any real impact 'leaks out' via the fraud of carbon offsets and other hoodwinkery.

According to this FT columnist,
the ACES Bill is a CON JOB.

Net change to global temps in 40 years? LESS THAN 0.1C! All that pain for zero gain.
6.29.2009 11:47am
Patrick M (mail):

Don't look so good right now, does it? You wanna be a liberal running on big spending and cap and trade right now?

The problem is the party leaders can use the blue dogs as cannon-fodder, make them walk the plank for bad bills, knowing full well that RIGHT NOW IS THEIR CHANCE. After 2010, they will be in a worse position politically.

If they lock in a govt-run healthcare plan, lock in cap and trade, lock in immigration amnesty, lock in higher spending and higher taxes ... sure they will lose many 2010 election seats, but they have buffers in House and Senate, will have reshaped the political landscape for the next generation. If you are one of the left-Liberal ideologues like Rep Waxman, you ARE going to take that opportunity.

Someone asked ...

What must be remembered is that neither Global Warming, nor health care reform are being seen by a large majority of American voters as the most important issues facing us today. Why the rush then to pass these bills?

Simple Answer: This is the MOMENT OF POWER FOR THE LEFT IN AMERICA. They will do everything they can to push American in a liberal/socialist direction before the pendulum swings back.
6.29.2009 12:02pm

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