By George Will
WASHINGTON – Happy days are not here again, but they are coming for conservatives. Barack Obama – with the lowest approval rating (according to Gallup, 50 percent, four points lower than that of the National Rifle Association) of any re-elected president when inaugurated since the Second World War – has a contradictory agenda certain to stimulate a conservative revival.
Consider his vow to expend political capital on climate change. The absurdity of the Kyoto approach – global climate treaties agreed to by 190 nations – is now obvious even to most former enthusiasts. Obama can propose cutting U.S. fossil fuel emissions (just 16 percent of the global total) with a carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme, but Congress will pass neither.
He says “the threat of climate change” is apparent in “raging fires,” “crippling drought” and “more powerful storms.” Are fires raging now more than ever? (There were a third fewer U.S. wildfires in 2012 than in 2006.) Are the number and severity of fires determined by climate change rather than forestry and land use practices? Is today’s drought worse than, say, that of the Dust Bowl, and was it caused by 1930s global warming? As for “more powerful storms”:
Obama’s vow to adjust Earth’s thermostat followed the report that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous 48 states. But The Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins has noted that although 2012 was 2.13 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than 2011, “2008, in the contiguous U.S., was two degrees cooler than 2006.” And “2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 were all cooler than 1998 by a larger margin than 2012 was hotter than 1998.”
A flourishing American economic sector is fossil fuels – especially oil and natural gas – which the Obama administration seems to regret and often impedes (see: fracking and the Keystone XL pipeline). Yet the natural gas boom is one of the main reasons why in 2012, U.S. fossil fuel emissions were the lowest since 1992.
Many businesses are avoiding hiring a 50th employee, or are replacing full-time employees to avoid Obamacare’s costly requirements regarding provision of health insurance.
It and other regulatory burdens partially explain this fact provided by Richard Vedder of the American Enterprise Institute: “If today the country had the same proportion of persons of working age employed as it did in 2000, the U.S. would have almost 14 million more people contributing to the economy.” Fourteen million is more than the combined workforces of 18 states.
In the rhetorical cotton candy of his inaugural address – sugary, and mostly air – Obama spoke of “investing in” rising generations, and said: “America’s possibilities are limitless.” He ignores the encroaching limits imposed on the nation by his policies that are funded by debt that will burden those generations.
George Will’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.