The country got a glimpse of the coming battle over the proposed carbon cap and trade system (a carbon tax would be better) during Secretary Tim Geithner's testimony to the Senate Finance Committee yesterday .
Senator Grassley (R, Iowa) called the cap and trade system a "tax"- and asked if President Obama is breaking his promise to not raise taxes on people making less than $200,000?
Sec. Geithner did a great job of responding directly to the question and explaining why it is important to address climate change.
I applaud the Secretary's forthright answers and especially his statement that the impact of this system will depend on individual behavior. The country has been waiting for leaders to tell us the truth about the challenges we face.
Cutting taxes while fighting wars on hidden budgets (full of borrowed money) sounded great - but crushed our economy. We need leaders willing to tell us things we may not want to hear - like we need to pay our own way.
Which why, even though I would prefer a direct carbon tax, I support the Obama Administration attempt to change our energy habits. Geithner said it well, "we need incentives to change the way we use energy."- Most Americans want to get off oil and know that it won't be easy. We can handle cost increases if we have a leader who keeps us focused on the endgame (and our sacrifices result in a actual change.)
The is refreshing to have an Administration that is not trying to snow us with easy answers that don't really address the problem. Obama is taking the high road and providing vision for how we build a new energy economy.
The challenges is that his well-funded opponents get to yell "raising taxes"-, "hurting the middle class"- and "breaking promises."- Their sound bites will work better on TV and they will come from both Republicans and Democrats.
The President will need our help responding to the gas, coal and oil spokesman. One of the things we can do is stomp on the false populism.
Senator Grassley wielded populism yesterday, saying cap and trade will hurt working families and the unemployed. Since when has he fought for the middle and working classes?
The AFL-CIO says he has voted with labor only 14% of the time and MiddleClass.org says scores him only slightly higher at 20%. Senator Grassley is working for the richest and most powerful forces of status quo. If he is really worried about coal companies, then our job is to make him say so. He doesn't get to hide behind us.
The contrast between the Administration and the Senate could not be clearer. Sec. Geithner told us the hard truths while the Senator used our struggles to protect the lining of his friends pocketbooks.