Don’t do it, Mr. McCain!

Me and a \"cut out\" John McCainWednesday May 14th found me in Washington at the famous “Wednesday Meeting” organised by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform.  This regular weekly fixture attracts the central players from Washington’s conservative community — think-tankers and policy wonks, and a smattering of politicians and administration officials.  Normally these meetings are off-the-record, but I am emboldened to recount my intervention at the meeting because it has already been covered in the press by Tom Hamburger of the Los Angeles Times, who I believe sought permission from those involved.
 
The star participant on May 14th was Carla Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, now a senior advisor to the McCain campaign.  She was introduced by Mike Duncan, Chairman of the Republican National Convention, who insisted that McCain would not reverse the Bush tax cuts.  High taxes “didn’t work in Europe, and they won’t work here”, he insisted. 
 
This quote gave me my cue.  McCain recently endorsed “Cap’n’Trade” carbon emissions trading, a system intended to reduce CO2 emissions which is already in place in the EU as the European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).  I caught Grover’s eye and got in the first question after Ms. Fiorina finished speaking.  I said (as near as I can remember): “Mike Duncan referred to policies that didn’t work in Europe, and won’t work in America.  That applies in spades to Cap’n’Trade.  I was very disappointed to hear that John McCain has backed this system, which has been a disaster in Europe.  Please ask him to reconsider”.
 
I didn’t quite get a standing ovation, but close to it.  There was a very loud and positive audience reaction, and it was easy to sense the mood of the meeting.  Ms. Fiorina has been left in no doubt of the views of Washington conservatives on the policy.  She conspicuously failed to reply to the question.
 
Later I wrote to Ms. Fiorina, sending links to the two excellent Open Europe reports on the ETS, which has wholly failed to achieve emissions reductions, but has imposed huge costs and administrative burdens on European economies.  See http://www.openeurope.org.uk/research/etsp2.pdf

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