Folks aren’t focused on this yet, but your humble blogger continues to insist that it may prove very, very important. If President Obama helps negotiate a global climate accord later this year, one of the crucial contrasts of the 2016 election could turn on a hugely consequential question: Should the U.S. participate in the agreement, or should it withdraw from participation in it?
The GOP nominee may well be on record effectively advocating for the latter.
Here is some more news that underscores this possibility. The Post’s James Hohmann reports:
Some Republican governors who are running for president are threatening to ignore Environmental Protection Agency regulations likely coming this summer that would limit power plant emissions.
Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana both are mulling whether to ignore the forthcoming EPA rules, which will create targets for reductions in carbon emissions from existing power plans for states to meet and will prompt an epic legal and political battle. John Kasich of Ohio has signed on to a lawsuit against the rules. Chris Christie of New Jersey refused to answer Homann’s inquiry. Jeb Bush’s campaign declined to comment on the situation. In the end, whether or not they actively ignore the rules, many of these Republicans will all but certainly oppose them and fight them in court.
The key point here is that the EPA rules will be critical to the U.S.’s ability to meet its end of the bargain by reducing its carbon emissions as part of any international accord in which other countries agree to do the same. Thus, the Republican presidential candidates, in opposing the rules, will be effectively advocating for a course of action that would profoundly complicate the U.S.’s participation in any such international agreement.
Indeed, if an international climate accord is reached, and there are now signs of momentum towards an agreement, it’s reasonable to surmise that the question of whether the U.S. should participate in it will become a key issue in the presidential race. After all, Congressional Republicans are opposing the EPA rules with the explicit aim of weakening the chances of an international accord, by creating the impression that the U.S. won’t be able to keep up its end of the deal.
So it’s also reasonable to assume that conservatives will demand that the GOP presidential candidates all pledge non-participation, and perhaps make this a litmus test — one that they will probably pass. By contrast, Hillary Clinton has pledged to protect all of Obama’s climate actions, which include the EPA rules, and she’ll certainly advocate for U.S. participation in an international accord.
What are the politics of opposing the EPA rules? Hohmann comments that it is “unclear whether emphatic resistance — though encouraged by the fossil fuel industry — is a political winner for the GOP at a time of increased concern over global warming.”
What’s more, all this could feed into a broader argument over the proper extent of U.S. international engagement on a host of fronts — combating climate change, curbing Iran’s nuclear program, normalizing relations with Cuba. The GOP candidate will oppose international engagement on all of those challenges. Clinton will support international engagement on all of them, while using this contrast to attack the GOP as too inward-looking and trapped in the past to confront our biggest challenges.
* MORE GOOD NEWS FOR OBAMACARE: Gallup reports that the uninsured rate has fallen yet again, from 11.9 percent to 11.4 percent:
The uninsured rate has dropped nearly six percentage points since the fourth quarter of 2013, just before the requirement for Americans to carry health insurance took effect. The latest quarterly uninsured rate is the lowest Gallup and Healthways have recorded since daily tracking of this metric began in 2008.
If the Supreme Court had gutted subsidies in three dozen states, it would have blown up this progress — a reminder of how important a victory turning back that legal challenge was.
* HILLARY EMBRACES GUN CONTROL: Philip Rucker reports that Hillary Clinton has been frequently touting gun control in her stump speeches, which signals a break from Democrats who had previously been skittish about embracing the issue. Notable:
Looking to the general election, some gun-control measures are popular, especially with the coalition of swing-state Latinos, African Americans, and young and suburban women the Democratic nominee would need to win the White House. “There is no more powerful force in an election than the suburban mother, and you don’t find a lot of suburban mothers that are against some sort of common-sense gun control,” said Mo Elleithee, a former Clinton adviser.
It’s yet another sign that in national elections, the Democratic Party is decreasingly reliant on blue collar white males and less obliged to minister to their cultural conservatism.
* JEB WILL BE HAUNTED BY ‘WORK LONGER HOURS’ REMARK: The Los Angeles Times reports that Dems think Jeb Bush’s suggestion that people need to work longer hours will give them something to bludgeon him with deep into the 2016 general election, if necessary:
It has all the required elements: It sounds terrible. It’s caught on video. The context requires multiple sentences of explanation, maybe even some economic policy jargon. And, most important, it reinforces a theme opponents already are pushing.
Whether or not Jeb’s comments showed that he’s “out of touch,” they also neatly capture the fundamental differences between the two parties about the economy.
* IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS GRIND ON: It now looks as if the talks over Iran’s nuclear program will stretch into the weekend, and in one positive sign, the Iranian foreign minister has publicly confirmed a deal is imminent. While major sticking points remain, and the deal could still fall apart, every second the talks continue is a reminder that both sides really want success.
* OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE ACTIONS ARE IN LEGAL TROUBLE: The Hill notes that the fate of Obama’s executive actions on deportations will be argued over today in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the government is probably going to lose.
This is a major setback. But this is probably going to the Supreme Court — where arguments could take place next year, meaning Republicans will again renew their opposition to deportation relief right when the presidential race heats up.
* QUOTE OF THE DAY, CIVIL-WAR-IN-MEMORY EDITION: The New York Times has a good overview of yesterday’s House battle over allowing Confederate imagery at federal cemeteries, which will lead to a review of such imagery at the Capitol. GOP Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia:
“You can’t make an excuse for things that happened, but the majority of people that actually died in the Civil War on the Confederate side did not own slaves. These were people that were fighting for their states. I don’t think they had even any thoughts about slavery.”
Thoughts, history buffs?
* AND TRUMP ANGLES TO PARTICIPATE IN GOP DEBATES: In case you had any doubt:
“He’s 100 percent going to do the debates,” said Michael Cohen, an adviser to Mr. Trump. “I believe he’s either leading or tied for first place in the polls, and certainly qualifies to have a seat on the stage.”
The prospect of debate audiences cheering Trump’s immigration lunacy may be giving GOP leaders heartburn, but they worry squelching his candidacy could make a third-party bid more likely.