Old dog, old trick

Unsurprisingly, VTGOP chair David Sunderland has rejected VPIRG head Paul Burns’ invitation to a public debate on the idea of a carbon tax. I’m sure that Burns would press him, not only on that issue, but on where Sunderland stands on climate change. After all, his only public statement on climate change was a denialist claim that there’s “science on both sides.”

No, Dave. There’s the scientific community on one side, and a handful of tame “experts” on the fossil fuel industry payroll plus a few cranks operating outside of their core competency. Recent revelations about ExxonMobil make this even more clear: nearly four decades ago, the oil giant’s own scientists concluded that climate change was real and caused by human activity.

Well, instead of debating a very knowledgeable person who heads an organization which supports a carbon tax, Sunderland has seized the opportunity to renew a pointless call for a debate with Dottie Deans, his Democratic counterpart. His wafer-thin rationale: the carbon tax is “sponsored by over two dozen Democrat legislators,” hence it must be a Democratic — pardon, “Democrat” — idea, hence Ms. Deans is responsible for defending it.

Yeah, well, nuts. Unless the carbon tax is in the Democrats’ platform, Deans is not answerable for it.

Besides, as I have previously observed, while Deans’ job title is the same as Sunderland’s, her work substantially differs from his. He spends his time putting out heavily partisan press releases, she concentrates on the behind-the-scenes work of maintaining a sizeable organization. She rarely acts as a public spokesperson for her party.

Interestingly, there is a smidgen of actual Republican policy in Sunderland’s latest missive. Unfortunately, it’s a dog’s breakfast of rehashed Laffer Curve poppycock.

Instead of taxing our way out of this problem (which clearly hasn’t worked), we know we need to grow our way out of this problem. If we do what’s necessary …we know we will be able to make investments in energy conservation, weatherization and the real innovation we need to protect our environment.

Sing it with me, folks: You’ll get pie in the sky when you die, that’s no lie.

Sunderland’s energy policy is the same as the Republican policy on just about every issue: cut taxes, let loose the hounds of the “free market,” the rising tide will lift all boats and provide plenty for everybody. And only then can we address climate change.

(You know, the Garden of Eden was a free market overseen, as God intended, by Adam. It was a boundless paradise, with wealth and prosperity flowing without cease. Unfortunately, Eve blew it, and intrusive regulation was the consequence of Original Sin. Just look at the Pentateuch: pages and pages of minute regulations! Contrast that with Jesus’ message of salvation through faith, which lifts the tyrannical regulatory burden from the backs of humanity. It says so right there in the Gospel of Dave.)

(But I digress.)

Sunderland’s letter includes some dramatic upticks in partisan rhetoric. This typical sentence about Democratic damage ends with a new twist:

In our state middle class incomes are stagnant, working age Vermonters are leaving the workforce and the state and more drug dealers are moving in.

That’s a new one: Governor Shumlin’s tax policy is responsible for our opiate epidemic.

Sunderland recounts his false narrative of a new and heavily burdensome carbon tax without mentioning that every carbon tax proposal includes counterbalancing tax cuts, and then adds a new kicker:

Why? So you and your cronies can decide how to redistribute money to your wealthy donors by forcing Vermonters to purchase things they may not want using money they can’t afford to give up in the first place.

“Redistribute money to wealthy donors,” whaaaaa? I guess he means David Blittersdorf, the Sidney Blumenthal of Vermont environmental policy. But that’s complete nonsense and Sunderland knows it. The vast majority of carbon-tax revenue would be offset by tax cuts for working Vermonters.

It also takes a lot of gall for a Republican to complain about “wealthy donors.”

Sunderland’s letter has the sour funk of crotch-grabbing about it. He concludes by pumping up the theatrics of his debate challenge, positing a scenario worthy of Mickey Spillane:

I would be happy to meet Dottie Deans, Chair of the Vermont Democrat Party, in an empty storefront or abandoned factory in downtown Springfield.

Ooooh, an abandoned factory! Such a manly atmosphere, befitting a serious policy discussion, not.

I used to worry about Jack Lindley’s blood pressure when he was VTGOP chair, pumping out over-the-top press releases about Democratic — pardon me, “Democrat” — perfidy. Now I’m starting to worry about Sunderland’s. Please, Dave, don’t blow a gasket in an overwrought effort to score a false political point.

5 thoughts on “Old dog, old trick

  1. Doug Hoffer

    “In our state middle class incomes are stagnant”
    True. But that is also the case for most of the nation. From 2008 to 2013, Vermont’s median household income declined by 1.9%. However, that was better than 41 other states. Indeed, only three states saw growth and all have large extractive industries (ND, TX & WY). Moreover, eight of the nine states with no income tax fared worse than Vermont. According to Republicans, that’s not supposed to happen.

  2. Dave Katz

    It’s what they do. Hyperventilating liars gonna lie. Then the Democrats will cringe, scramble to apologize abjectly whilst resolutely unable to extricate themselves from their enemies’ framing (Truth be told, they have to appeal to the same business/connected constituency for their perceived political survival–“agreement in spirit” might be a little harsh, but there you go) and then proceed to roll, baby, roll.
    T’was ever thus.

    1. Dave Katz

      This guy commented on Charlie Pierce’s Esquire blog today:
      Vinay Edwin · Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
      “Why aren’t Dems more competitive at the state and local level? I suspect the unspoken answer is that social issue outrage and republican intransigence is the perfect cover for maintaining the status quo, something that the Money appreciates.

      “Democrats can point and laugh at the Republican clown show and shake their heads in exasperation but never really have to go out and pass legislation that helps create a more equitable society. All the while those who bathe in unearned privilege continue to reap the rewards of a dysfunctional democracy. At some point you have to stop wondering why Dems don’t learn their lessons and just assume they have a reason not to.

      “I think I just made myself sick.”

      Spot on, y’ask me. A total ironic twist on Both Siderism (TM).

      Hey, the Cokey Roberts Rule…”Well it’s out there, now….”

  3. Mark Donka

    But NASA just released info that Antarctica ice has increased by leaps and bounds. Much more than the lose on one side. But VPRG will only talk about the ice that melted not what has increased. The group of scientist that report on the warming are on the Government payroll working off of grants. If they reported that the climate has not changed appreciably for 18 years they might be out of work. Al Gore said the ice would be gone by 2014 what happened?

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      You deniers are always quick to glom onto any piece of information that supports your views, while ignoring the vast preponderance of scientific evidence. Two points about the NASA Study:

      — The authors don’t claim that the ice has increased because the climate is colder; it’s because of increased snowfalls in the continent’s interior. Which is one aspect of climate change: less predictable and more extreme weather.

      — This study is at odds with others, which report dramatic decreases in the ice shelf and concomitant rises in sea levels. It’s one piece in the puzzle, and the vast majority of pieces show a warming planet with potentially catastrophic effects.


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