Amidst the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Newt Gingrich is heaping praise on a new special interest-friendly political agenda – the Contract from America. In a recent op-ed, Gingrich endorsed the contract as “genuine voice of the American people,” and encouraged supporters to vote for their top ten solutions to bring “real economic, conservative and government reform.”
What Newt failed to mention is that one of the proposal’s 22 points is directly contradictory to his previous stance on cap-and-trade. The document states:
REJECT CAP & TRADE: Prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures.
But in a 2007 interview with PBS, Newt clearly supported a cap-and-trade system for reducing carbon emissions:
Either Gingrich didn’t bother to read the “Contract from America” all the way to the end (it is a hefty 22-point document), or he has completely flip-flopped on his position in just a few years. The later appears to be true, based on comments by Newt over the past year. Media Matters put together a very telling chart on the Gingrich of 2007 vs. 2009:
GINGRICH THEN:If Bush Had Instituted A Cap-And-Trade Policy “We Would Be Much Better Off.” During a 2007 interview with PBS, Newt Gingrich said: “If [President Bush] had instituted a regime that combined three things I just said — mandatory caps, a trading system inside the caps, as we have with clean air, and a tax incentive to be able to invest in the new technology and to be able to produce the new technology — I think we would be much better off than we are in the current situation.” [PBS, 2/15/07]
GINGRICH NOW: Cap-And-Trade Is “Fundamentally Wrong.” During his testimony in front of the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, former Speaker Newt Gingrich said: “Imposing stunningly high taxes on an economy in the middle of a recession is fundamentally wrong, and guarantees that our economic competitors in the global marking will be in a dramatically better economic position. They recognize that artificially capping their economy is the wrong approach for developing their societies.” [Gingrich Testimony, 4/24/09]
Why the sudden change of heart? It could have something to do with the $950,000 that coal and fossil fueled power companies contributed to Gingrich’s political advocacy group, American Solutions for Winning the Future, in the first half of last year. Among the top contributors were Peabody Energy – a St. Louis-based coal giant – and American Electric Power, the largest or second-largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. power industry.
So no matter how many economists and scientists come out in favor of a cap-and-trade scheme for limiting U.S. carbon emissions, you can count on Newt to keep on fighting for the interests of the country’s biggest polluters.