Krugman’s blog, 8/3/15

There were two posts yesterday.  The first was “Cap and Trade and Polarization:”

One of the most obvious facts about the U.S. political scene is also a fact most pundits refuse to acknowledge: the extreme polarization we now experience, the complete disappearance of any kind of political center, is not a two-sided phenomenon. Democrats haven’t moved drastically to the left — if anything they inched right for a couple of decades, and are only now shuffling slightly back toward a more robust liberalism. But Republicans have barreled off to the right.

This is, as I said, obvious — except that for those whose whole professional self-image involves standing between the supposed extremes, it’s too painful to acknowledge. So it’s worth pointing out specific policy areas where we can trace the positions of the parties explicitly.

One prime example is, of course, health reform: yes, Obamacare is identical in all important respects to Romneycare, which in turn followed a blueprint originally propounded at the Heritage Foundation.

Environmental policy may, however, be an even better case. Cap and trade began as a Republican idea — a corrective to command-and-control regulation. There was, in fact, a time when many Democrats disliked the idea of using market mechanisms to limit pollution, so this was a case of Republicans pushing policy in the direction of good economics. Bush the elder introduced cap and trade to control acid rain; John McCain even sponsored a climate change bill that relied on cap and trade.

But now Republican candidates for president are scrambling to declare themselves against the Obama administration’s proposals; Mitch McConnell is urging states to defy the feds and refuse to implement the regulations.

Leave on one side the sheer evilness of sabotaging efforts to avert environmental catastrophe in pursuit of political gain. Just note where the divide comes from.

Yesterday’s second post was “No Sanity Clause:”

Just in case you had any illusions about the state of US governance, and the sanity of the party that now controls Congress, the estimable Stan Collender now tells us that there is a better-than-even chance of a government shutdown this fall. And the issue that will bring us to the brink? Republican demands that we defund Planned Parenthood.

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