The Perfect Is The Enemy Of The Good

Dave Roberts, amazed that the Cap & Trade vs. Carbon Tax debate is still raging, sticks himself in the center of it:

In the short-term, complementary policies will spur the most action. The never-ending, chin-stroking carbon pricing debate perpetually overlooks this basic fact. (See: “Cap and Trade is Not Enough: Improving US Climate Policy” [PDF] from Carnegie Mellon.) What’s going to knock us off the status quo path in the next decade is, above all, new targets and standards for energy efficiency. Also: a renewable energy standard, a low-carbon fuel standard, smart-grid standards and funding, government procurement policies, direct government investment, etc. etc. These are the policies that could get things rolling immediately. And guess what?

The Waxman-Markey bill contains those complementary policies. Also, it exists.

Both these characteristics set it apart from the Alternative Universe Carbon Tax Pony Bill. Carbon taxers seem blinded by a misguided obsession with the specific mechanics of carbon pricing. By bashing Waxman-Markey, they are aligning themselves with people who want to block the best opportunity for climate/energy action in a generation. They’re aligning themselves with people who want to block it not in favor of a pony alternative, but in favor of doing nothing, to protect corporate donors. In many cases, they are adopting the exact same rhetoric as conservative obstructionists.

Whenever your opponents in a policy argument start citing the enemies you're allegedly aiding, you know you're onto something. But it's almost certainly quixotic. One of the results of the implosion of conservatism as a governing philosophy is that these arguments are now conducted largely within the liberal camp, where the primacy of the desired result always wins out.