Charging for carbon emissions will benefit the economy, the people, and the deficit, concluded Waxman. There will be no need to cut defense spending, public programs, or taxes, added Gilchrest.
Audience questions emphasized the importance of cooperative action among different countries rather than solely domestic policymaking. Waxman recommended, instead of punishing China and India for their massive oil consumption, setting an example by improving our own relevant habits.
Another strong point was the question how the deniers can possibly allow their children's futures to collide with environmental deterioration. Faulting ignorance, Gilcrest quoted Ben Franklin that ignorance and democracy are incompatible. [John Adams emphasized the importance of an informed public.]
Obama must refer to this issue during his campaign and in particular the proven relationship between reduction of both the national debt and atmospheric pollution. Waxman recalled how, during the 2008 presidential election, Obama and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) agreed that a holocaust will result if climate change is ignored and/or denied.
Browner added that in the past Democrats and Republicans agreed on the importance of addressing environmental issues, including climate change. Waxman cited President Richard Nixon, who set up the EPA, and President Theodore Roosevelt's concern for the environment, among others. We must get beyond denial, he said, and emphasized that environmental concerns are never on the agenda when deficit reduction is the issue.
After the event, the Congressmen were solicitous enough to take more questions. I asked Congressman Waxman exactly how safe fracking was possible. "Science?" I suggested. He agreed.