Jonathan Chait on Fred Barnes:
Fred Barnes, Moral Philosopher: Fred Barnes is in top form in his latest Weekly Standard piece urging Republicans to be the party of no. This paragraph in particular deserves to be savored:
Obama says his policy to restrict greenhouse gases, known as cap and trade, is "market-based." It isn't. The cap on emissions would be imposed by a government panel. Polls show the majority of Americans disapprove of this. Worse for Obama, Frank Newport, the Gallup boss, says most Americans don't believe global warming poses a serious danger. So why choke off economic growth?
This constitutes the entirety of Barnes' advice to the GOP on how to handle global warming. I have not left anything out. It's pretty remarkable. First of all, he says that a cap ongreenhouse emissions is "market-based" because the government sets it.I think nearly any economist would tell you that the issue here is that the market does not have any price mechanism to account for the externality of greenhouse gas emissions. Someone has to set that limit in order for the market to establish a price, otherwise the price would be zero. If Barnes means it's not market-based because the governemnt is setting a cap on emissions, then he's saying the only "market-based" plan is to do nothing.
Even funnier, if it wasn't so morally deranged, is the way Barnes cites a poll showing little concern for global warming and immediately concludes that nothing should be done. Uh, Fred, aren't you skipping the step where you say that Americans are correct to think global warming is not a danger? I mean, that view's totally at odds with the scientific consensus, but saying so at least gives the the veneer of caring about something other than the short-term political interests of the GOP.
For ten years from 1985 to 1995 Fred Barnes was senior editor and Washington Correspondent for the New Republic. I still haven't received my abject, personal apologies from Michael Kinsley, Hendrick Hertzberg, and Andrew Sullivan for promoting his career.