I appreciate the president’s dilemma. But I don’t think hanging back and letting the Senate take the lead is the right answer. This is a big leadership moment. He needs to confront it head on, because — call me crazy — I think doing the right and hard thing here will actually be good politics, too.
I’d love to see the president come out, guns blazing with this message:
“Yes, if we pass this energy legislation a small price on carbon will likely show up on your gasoline or electricity bill. I’m not going to lie. But it is an investment that will pay off in so many ways. It will spur innovation in energy efficiency that will actually lower the total amount you pay for driving, heating or cooling. It will reduce carbon pollution in the air we breathe and make us healthier as a country. It will reduce the money we are sending to nations that crush democracy and promote intolerance. It will strengthen the dollar. It will make us more energy secure, environmentally secure and strategically secure.
“Sure, our opponents will scream ‘carbon tax!’ Well what do you think you’re paying now to OPEC? The only difference between me and my opponents is that I want to keep any revenue we generate here to build American schools, American highways, American high-speed rail, American research labs and American economic strength. It’s just a little tick I have: I like to see our spending build our country. They don’t care. They are perfectly happy to see all the money you spend to fill your tank or heat your home go overseas, so we end up funding both sides in the war on terrorism — our military and their extremists.”