By Bill Maher
Hank Paulson, the bald former Bush Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs CEO who helped us and his friends get through the financial crisis, recently wrote an op-ed in The New York Times calling for Republicans to get behind a carbon tax. That means a lot coming from Paulson, who not only worked for Bush, but is also a card-carrying Christian Scientist who prefers prayer over medical treatment. So I take it to heart when a guy like that says climate change is too big to fail.
Of course, it was complete with the usual “I’m not a climatologist” and “Can’t do it without India and China” disclaimers required for any Republican editorial on global warming. And there was the gentle reminder to Republicans that they are “the party of Teddy Roosevelt.” No, you were the party of Teddy Roosevelt. Now you’re the party of Teddy Cruz.
How sad is your Party on the environment when the last thing you can refer to as a success was a guy who was president over 100 years go?
It’s becoming clear to an increasing number of people that climate change won’t just sink our coastal cities; it’s also going to sink our economy. New York City is spending $20 billion to protect itself from rising sea levels and storm surges, and that’s just one US city. Climate change is also a threat to national security, according to a report authored by 16 retired generals and admirals, which points out that many US military installations are in coastal areas and vulnerable to rising seas and souped up storms. When Army generals and Hank Paulson start talking like Al Gore, it’s time to listen. If we don’t pay heed to Paulson’s warning, Americans will go from being underwater on their mortgages to having their houses literally under water.
Paul Krugman took to the Times to commend Paulson’s editorial and suggest that he’s right – a carbon tax would be better than EPA regulations. Also that you can get near unanimity from economists on this point. Even people like Arthur Laffer are for carbon taxes. And yet no one thinks this is going to happen, even if it makes more sense than what we’re about to do. Yay, America!
But here’s one of the reasons why: because Republicans have spent so long bashing “elites” they don’t even listen to their own anymore. Of course, there aren’t too many Republican elites left. You could fit them all in a studio apartment in Manhattan. Hank Paulson has less influence in that Party than a guy named Festus who runs a Tea Party hunting club in rural Missouri.
You want to turn the base of the Republican Party around on global warming? Forget the New York Times editorials from Hank Paulson. Get Festus to mention something during his revival meeting.