It’s hard to get too worked up when a politician turns out to be opportunistic, but Media Matters documents a pretty stunning case of cynicism from Newt Gingrich today. Last week Gingrich vilified a Democratic cap-and-trade plan for carbon emissions as a “command-and-control, anti-energy, big-bureaucracy agenda, including dramatic increases in government power and draconian policies that will devastate our economy.” But two years ago, when he was in his “big ideas for conservatives phase,” he was cap-and-trade’s biggest fan:
I think if you have mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system, much like we did with sulfur, and if you have a tax-incentive program for investing in the solutions, that there’s a package there that’s very, very good. And frankly, it’s something I would strongly support….The caps, with a trading system, on sulfur has worked brilliantly because it has brought free-market attitudes, entrepreneurship and technology and made it very profitable to have less sulfur.
Well, that’s Newt for you: he dumps policy positions as quickly as he dumps wives. But it also goes to show how fleeting conservative support for “market-oriented solutions” like cap-and trade is. A lot of the liberal enthusiasm for cap-and-trade over the past decade has been based on the idea that it might be more acceptable to conservatives than a straight tax, but obviously that hasn’t turned out to be the case. Basically, they just don’t want to do anything, full stop.