When Republicans oppose Republican proposals

That’s simple, when Democrats actually adopt them.  The idea of of using market-based principles for carbon reduction, i.e., cap and trade, is certainly more in keeping with Republican principles as opposed to a more purely regulatory Democratic approach.  So, why are Republicans now opposed to cap and trade?  Because the Democrats have embraced it.  Here’s Yglesias:

Mark Kleiman observes that once upon a time market-simulating pollution-control regulations like emissions fees or cap and trade were the official policy doctrine of the conservative movement, put forward as superior to centralized regulation. He says “was sympathetic to that critique, and frustrated about the environmental movement’s unwillingness to see reason.” But of course now that environmentalists want such pollution controls, conservatives hate them.

Steve Benen takes the ball and runs with it:

Ezra Klein noted that Republicans used to support industry bailouts, but now consider them creeping socialism. Jon Chait noted that the Republicans “fervently embraced the logic of Keynesian stimulus in 2001,” but now fundamentally reject the same idea.

In perhaps my favorite example, the concept of an individual mandate as part of health care reform was, in fact, a Republican idea. Now, the GOP considers it the single most offensive part of the Democratic policy.

The point isn’t to point out Republican inconsistencies; that’s fairly routine. The point is to demonstrate that Republicans are so fundamentally unserious about solving public policy challenges [emphasis mine], that they’ll shamelessly move the goalposts at a moment’s notice. The party supports cap-and-trade, EITC, industry bailouts, housing vouchers, and mandatory health insurance — right up until there’s a Democratic president. Then, Republicans are no longer willing to even consider Republican ideas.

Unfortunately, its proved to be a damn effective political strategy.  Republicans have figured out that simply by opposing something as a bloc, the media (and most definitely my students) take it to be an ideological and partisan policy, no matter how centrist and bipartisan it actually is.  Damn it.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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