That’s the message of this New York Times editorial on the mind-numbingly predictable, short-sighted energy bill moving quickly through the House of Representatives.
What’s maddening about this is that there is no shortage of ideas about what to do. Step outside the White House and Congress, and one hears a chorus of voices begging for something far more robust and forward-looking than the trivialities of this energy bill. It is a strikingly bipartisan chorus, too, embracing environmentalists, foreign policy hawks and other unlikely allies. Last month, for instance, a group of military and intelligence experts who cut their teeth on the cold war – among them Robert McFarlane, James Woolsey and Frank Gaffney Jr. – implored Mr. Bush as a matter of national security to undertake a crash program to reduce the consumption of oil in the United States.
The consensus on the need for a more stable energy future is matched by an emerging consensus on how to get there. In the last two years, there have been three major reports remarkable for their clarity and convergence, from the Energy Future Coalition, a group of officials from the Clinton and the first Bush administrations; the Rocky Mountain Institute, which concerns itself with energy efficiency; and, most recently, the National Commission on Energy Policy, a group of heavyweights from academia, business and labor.
Homage is paid to stronger fuel economy standards, which Congress has steadfastly resisted. But all three reports also call for major tax subsidies and loan guarantees to help Detroit develop a new generation of vehicles, as well as an aggressive bio-fuels program to develop substitutes for gasoline.
What interests me is that the proposals mentioned in this article are hardly the most radical ones out there. Congress and the White House are so out of step that they see these common-sense, ultra-moderate positions as extremism. Call your Representative, and tell her/him that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.