Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Policy Isnt Made in a Vacuum

I'm listening to Bob Corker ask a collection of wonks whether or not a carbon tax would be a less complicated way of reducing carbon emissions. This is all very nice of him, but until Corker can convince a bunch of his Republican colleagues to draft a legitimate carbon tax proposal and promise to support it, hold the coal industry (one of his constituent interests!) at bay, and in general show that he's not just hiding behind the carbon tax so he can be for "something" while opposing the cap-and-trade-bill, he can, in the words of Dick Cheney, go fuck himself.

Lately I seem to be having conversations with wonkish right-of-center types who have this-or-that idea about how to design a simpler, more efficient, and more effective policy to deal with taxation, climate change, health care, whatever. But it always stops there. No one talks about managing the transition. No one talks about convincing Mitch McConnell to back these ideas. No one talks about sixty votes. No one talks about the interest group dynamics in Washington. No one even talks about working for a decade to elect members of Congress who might be more amenable to these sorts of policies. It's just policy in a vacuum. Which is an interesting intellectual exercise, but not a legitimate substitute for governance, an ultimately messy endeavor.
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