Skip to content

Are Conservatives Willing to Accept an Obamacare Approach to Climate Action?

Paul Krugman asserts that Henry Paulson’s op-ed article about climate policy is “not nearly brave enough.”  

“A carbon tax may be the best thing we could do, but we won’t actually do it.”

“Yet there are a number of second-best things … that we’re either doing already or might do soon. And the question for Mr. Paulson and other conservatives who consider themselves environmentalists is whether they’re willing to accept second-best answers, and in particular whether they’re willing to accept second-best answers implemented by the other party. If they aren’t, their supposed environmentalism is an empty gesture.”

Krugman contends that Paulson’s comparison of the climate crisis with the 2008 financial crisis is not a good analogy.

“So let me suggest a different analogy, one that he probably won’t like. In policy terms, climate action — if it happens at all — will probably look like health reform. That is, it will be an awkward compromise dictated in part by the need to appease special interests, not the clean, simple solution you would have implemented if you could have started from scratch. It will be the subject of intense partisanship, relying overwhelmingly on support from just one party, and will be the subject of constant, hysterical attacks. And it will, if we’re lucky, nonetheless do the job.”