Obama Betrays the EPA

lisa jackson

Lisa Jackson and President Obama.

Among the big political stories this past week, perhaps the biggest surprise was the decision by the President not to implement the proposed new regulations of air pollution that had been developed by the Environmental Protection Agency through a careful consultative process over the last three years. In a presidency that has held countless disappointments for his progressive supporters, this was the most stunning so far.

The President was certainly very clear in his environmental rhetoric in the last campaign, and his appointment of Lisa Jackson as the head of the EPA gave reason to hope that he was serious. Jackson and the EPA certainly would have coordinated the proposed regulations with the White House; there were multiple opportunities for the President and his advisers to shape—or even head off—the proposed regulations.

When the final version of the regulations was published by the EPA, it was subjected to an entirely predictable barrage of criticism by the Republicans and the Chamber of Commerce. They charged that the new rules would constitute a terrible burden on business, and would thus cost jobs at the very time when we need to find ways to promote new hiring (while cutting federal spending).

In what has become a pattern for Obama, he backed down, adopted the essentials of the Republican argument, and left his own EPA Director swinging in the wind.

It needn’t have been this way. Air pollution is a significant and growing national problem with clear implications for public health, not to mention (oh, we dare not mention!) global warming. The scientific consensus behind the EPA proposals is impressive. Characteristically, the Republicans simply pay alternative “experts” to support their contrary viewpoint.

The Republicans have shown repeatedly that they will not compromise with this president: they intend to make sure that he is not reelected, and that goal trumps any thoughts of accommodation in the common interest. And yet the President persists in moving toward Republican positions, only to have his adversaries retreat further toward the extreme.

There is no political gain for Obama in doing this. The Republicans will never agree to anything that Obama could call a victory. They will oppose him to the bitter end. The Chamber of Commerce may be happy with his ignominious retreat, but they will still provide heavy funding to the Republicans. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the American public supports the EPA and wants it to continue protecting our environment. They are not satisfied with the environmental status quo.

The Republican argument that these regulations would kill jobs is dubious at best. Companies that were planning to outsource production to China might now claim that they’re doing it because of the EPA, but they would have done it anyway. And companies that continue to produce goods here will employ more people to work on pollution control.

Just as he did on the issues of stimulating the economy and controlling the deficit, Obama on this issue completely failed to articulate the alternative story: that reams of economic research support the need for governmental expenditures to help the country out of recession; that the fiscal deficit is manageable in the long term and should not interfere in the short term with efforts to stimulate the economy; that the problem of air pollution cannot be dealt with successfully without intelligent government regulation.

john peelerObama never told any of these stories. Instead, he bought into the Republican story, but tried to moderate it.

His campaign slogan for 2012 ought to be, “I’m Really Like Them, But Not So Much.”

And progressives who have supported him face the agonizing reality that it’s him, or Rick Perry. We’ve been had—again!

John Peeler


  1. says

    Contra some people’s rush to conclusions, as a matter of fact a 4-year dose of Rick Perry (especially if the Senate is kept Democratic) might well have more positive long-term effect than cravenly returning Democrat-In-Name-Only (DINO) Obama to office.

    The reason we are getting all these ready-to-be-outrageous Republican candidates in the first place is that likely the leading Republicans in and out of Congress don’t really care about electing a Republican president: the DINO gives them 95% of what they want, and in the bargain – because he’s still labeled a Democrat – enables them to put the blame on the Democrats.

    Prior comments to this article mostly try to find some way of excusing Obama. Their guiding idea is that, no matter how badly Obama renegs on promises – in fact, no matter what Obama actually does or doesn’t do (promised or not) – Obama is inevitably better than an alternative, and therefore whatever he does is really for the best.

    This is a familiar story. Just replace Obama with many people’s idea of a supposedly all-good God who however deliberately lets bad things happen – maybe at first unhappily for us mortals, but supposedly and undoubtedly for the overall best. In the case of God, everything will be made up and made right in the afterlife. In the case of Obama, everything will (hopefully) be made up in the wondrous Second Term. And if not, then, then in some even more wondrous afterlife after that.

  2. says

    Mr. Peeler makes a good point. It’s O.K. to “roll with the punches” sometimes, but don’t get beat until you’re BLOODY! President Obama needs to stand-up for what the AMERICAN PEOPLE WANT, not what the Republicans want, just like Lorelei suggested!
    The American people want the Oxygen level of the planet to move back towards 38% or more of the air composition, and the Carbon Dioxide levels to go back down to 5% or less, so that WE THE PEOPLE can STOP dying unnecessarily from Cancer and all the other deadly diseases that thrive in Oxygen-Deficient Environments!
    It seems that President Obama needs to do a little “Spiritual Homework” and be reminded about the POWER OF NOW, to regain the belief of the American People who voted and had so much HOPE for him, but even more… to regain the BELIEF IN HIMSELF! President Obama, please remember who YOU are..the YES WE CAN, Man!

  3. Charles (Paris) says

    My friends, it would be a fatal error to assume that Obama caves in on any issue when he has a viable option. Why would he? He knows the risks far better than we. And he has access to facts that we do not. My sense is that he is more interested in winning ‘wars’ rather battles (arguments). I have unwavering faith I’n his dedication to the causes he professes. Roads to victory are rarely direct.


    • says

      Then you’re a fool, Chuck. And shame on you, cuz obama’s fooled you not once, not twice, but a hundred times.

      He most certainly had a “viable option” of simply implementing the EPA recommendations. So, why wouldn’t he? The only answer is: obama’s a con, a trojan horse, a corporatist whore.

      And you’re a sucker.

  4. Richard Packard says

    Mr. Peeler’s opionion is “subjective” like most of our own beliefs, he is entitled to his opionions and thats fine. The problem that I have with the “extreme” views of some people criticizing the president is that they are not in his seat (president) nor or they seeking re-election. Unless the progressives can “guanrantee” the same kind of overwhelming turnout that happen in 2008 for Obama, then they need to “roll with the punches” and like all of us “hope” that he will do the right thing in his second term. Mr. Peeler should know better (as a former political science professor) that all of this “is” politics! The progressives like the conservatives are vying for position to get “their agendas” passed while in power, the problem is, both sides tend to be more focused on “their agendas” rather than the “common good” of the American people as a whole. “Give-and-take” is the name of the game but like “extreme sports” and every other facet of our existence, we have become obsessed with “extremism” and there is no room for compromise on either side. Early on I heard things like “he is so intelligent, smart, capable”, does it stand to reason that maybe Obama is “smart enough” to know “when” to give in order to take later on? I believe that the progressives have to learn to be “more patience” and “more perservering” and less “combative” and “doom-and-gloom” about Obama’s decisions. Every president’s “first term” duty is to have a “second-term”, Obama is doing just that, afterall, what option does the progressives have other than Obama at this stage of the game?

  5. Mark Halfmoon says

    It was by President Obama’s initiative in the first place that the EPA proposed stricter standards for ground level ozone in January 2010 reversing the Bush administration’s hands off policy. Postponing an initiative that would not even exist if he did not propose it is not betrayal.

  6. Don Duitz says

    I just, like so many, hope he has a plan for the second term if he get elected. If he doesn’t have a plan to back up his promises, if reelected, he may wind up being the biggest and most disappointing orgasm ever!

  7. Lorelei Shark says

    Living in the putrid air of Los Angeles,which has actually been getting better over the years because of stricter emission policies – I’m horrified at the President’s decision – without being strong-armed by anyone we can see – this was HIS decision. :-( I understand he’s trying to appease the Chamber of Commerce and the corporations – hoping they’ll give a job here and there – but they won’t and that’s not his job – his job is to listen to we the people – not them the corporations.

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