After Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher got national attention for self-righteously quitting the GOP to pursue the San Diego mayor’s seat as an independent, it was inevitable that Arnold Schwarzenegger would write an L.A. Times op-ed patting himself on the back for being a constructive non-Neanderthal maverick Republican. Years before he was fine-tuning the constructive maverick narrative for Fletcher, political guru Matt David was doing it for John McCain, Arnold and Jon Huntsman. But the problem for Schwarzenegger is what he leaves out of his op-ed — his assault on the Sacramento establishment from 2003-2005 — and what he leaves in — implied championing of three of the left’s biggest boondoggles: Obamacare, green jobs and the bullet train. If I were Fletcher, I’m not sure I’d want to be linked to Arnold.
This Chris Reed fella, writing in the L.A. Daily News, has some good news about the California High-Speed Rail Authority:
Why would the [California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers] turn on their normal allies and oppose plans for the bullet train? Because of the growing evidence that Gov. Jerry Brown thinks the only plausible way to fund the project is with the fees that heavy industries pay for the right to pollute under AB 32, the state’s landmark 2006 anti-global warming law. The state Legislative Analyst’s Office expects the fees from the “cap and trade” system to generate billions of dollars annually — perhaps as much as $14 billion by 2015.
Like 99.9 percent of the California media, I’m not keeping all that good tabs on the implementation of AB 32′s cap-and-trade system under which companies will buy and sell their pollution rights as part of the state’s forced shift to cleaner but costlier energy. I may have written about it Sunday partly to make fun of Jerry, but that doesn’t mean I’m an expert. So what does California’s implementation look like to someone who understands the issues? It looks stalled — maybe permanently. This is from the respected SoberLook.com economics web site:
California has the second highest jobless rate of any state and has come out of the deep recession in far worse shape than America’s other megastates (Texas, New York, Florida). Is now the best time to experiment with our economy in two very risky ways, one without precedent in world history and one more conventional? Sober people would say not. But thanks to Arnold, the AB 32 experiment in forcing a huge economy to absorb much higher fuel costs than rival states and nations is about to begin. And if Jerry gets his way, we’ll see a squeeze on wealthy Californians that will force them to ponder this question: Is it really worth surrendering nearly half my income to live here? Be scared, Golden Staters, very scared. As bad as things now are, they could soon be much worse.
Does Jerry Brown really think he can get away with arguing, as he did Thursday, that we need to keep following the costly course laid out by the California High-Speed Rail Authority even as he unveils the most austere budget in modern state history? Or is this all kabuki before the plug is pulled? Weekend columns by Dan Walters and George Skelton make it plain that the Sacramento establishment is ready for a drastic response. Good. But what’s amazing about the media finally turning on the bullet train is that they’ve done so even while ignoring two really powerful arguments against the boondoggle.
Great news, for once, on the AB 32 front, with a Fresno federal judge blocking part of California’s 2006 law mandating a switch to cleaner but much costlier forms of energy on the grounds that it violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by requiring changes in “farming and ethanol production practices in other states.” This is the same clause, of course, that offers the most hope of blocking the multilevel fiasco that is Obamacare. It’s also helping in the legal fight against California’s manmade drought. Such utility. Can we also use it to take down Donald Trump and PETA?
In the winter of 2000-01, California was caught up in a wrenching energy crisis when a flawed energy deregulation plan and a lack of power-generating capacity forced utilities to vastly overpay for energy on the spot market, to the benefit of Enron and other companies gaming the situation. Did the state learn from this and strive to protect ratepayers? Nope. In fact, it’s happening all over again — this time as an outgrowth of AB 32′s requirement that the state gradually switch to cleaner but much costlier sources of energy.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s speech at the climate change conference last Thursday was overshadowed by Gov. Jerry Brown’s red-meat speech for green true believers, but it was a piece of work — 20 minutes or so of him telling the crowd how great he was because of AB 32 and how great they were for thinking he was great. In addressing climate change, the rest of the world doesn’t “have to have any debates — just follow California,” Arnold said. “Going green is great for the economy. It’s great for job creation.” Groan. Where are all the ballyhooed “fact check” journalists on junk like this? Shouldn’t the recent reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post finally embolden the rest of the media to hold greens to the same standards as other powerful groups?
The New York Times’ report that “global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped by the largest amount on record last year” is one more bat to the face of those dumb enough to argue AB 32 is good policy. It was only good policy if the world copied California, as Arnold predicted. Not gonna happen. Soon it will be obvious geoengineering is the way to go, as the “Freakonomics” authors wrote. In the mean time, California’s economy will be brutalized by higher energy prices that achieved nothing besides letting Schwarzenegger run around the world playing the role of Global Green Giant. That is certainly a small price to pay for our ex-gov’s ego trip, don’t you think?
Since AB 32′s adoption, I’ve been astounded by the superficiality of the media’s coverage of the law, which forces the state to shift to cleaner but much costlier forms of energy. Having one state pursue such a policy more or less unilaterally is economic suicide. Says who? Not a “global warming denier,” to use the green movement lingo. Says President Obama’s own energy secretary! Attention, green California journos who don’t think you’re in the tank but probably are: Isn’t this a story?