The Daily Beast is dubbing the Environmental Protection Agency's new clean power plan "Obamacare for the Air" in part because it is "intensely polarizing." But the reason that the standards are "polarizing" is that, just like with Obamacare's individual mandate, Republicans have abandoned their previous support for addressing this pressing issue with market-based policies as they move further to the extreme right.
On June 2, the EPA proposed the first standards for carbon pollution from existing power plants, which would allow states flexibility on how to achieve the pollution cuts. States could, for instance, mandate installations of new clean power technology or join regional cap-and-trade programs that take a market-based approach to promoting clean power. The Daily Beast's Jason Mark labeled the standards "Obamacare for the Air" because both plans are "numbingly complex," "based on a market system," "likely to transform a key sector of the economy," and "guaranteed to be intensely polarizing." The Christian Science Monitor's David Unger similarly compared the standards to Obamacare in part because they are "controversial." The editor in chief of the Daily Beast, John Avalon adopted the analogy on CNN's New Day, calling it a "long-time liberal priority."
Both articles left out why the EPA standards are contentious among the political class: it's not because the proposals are "liberal," but rather because the Republican party has shifted so far to the right that it now attacks proposals that it once advocated for. Many prominent Republicans supported a cap-and-trade program before Barack Obama was elected president, just as they once supported the individual mandate in Obamacare. In fact, the greenhouse gas emissions cuts that Sen. John McCain proposed during the 2008 election were far more extensive than the EPA's current proposal. The video below by Media Matters Action Network shows how Republicans used to talk about climate change in ways that they never would today:
As the Republican Party shifted to the right, so too did the conservative media. The Wall Street Journal editorial board previously stated that "the Bush Administration should propose a domestic cap-and-trade program for carbon dioxide that could, of course, be easily expanded to Canada and Mexico. And then to Latin America. And then the world." Now the paper's editorials deride this conservative idea as "cap-and-tax." Yet mainstream reporters are often loathe to point out this profound shift, sticking instead to "both-sides-to-blame reporting."
CNN aired a segment on Michigan's passage of a right-to-work law that was littered with misinformation, including the right-wing myth that workers in states without such laws are forced to join unions. In reality, federal law already prohibits unions from requiring workers to be members.
On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed the right-to-work legislation, which bans "requirements that nonunion employees pay unions for negotiating contracts and other services," the Associated Press reported. Unions strongly opposed the law, and heated protests have been taking place in and around the Capitol in Lansing.
On Erin Burnett OutFront, guest host Ashleigh Banfield began her coverage of the issue by claiming that the new Michigan law made it "illegal to force any workers to join a union." Similarly, reporter Poppy Harlow said workers in Michigan now "won't have to be part of a union." However, compulsory union membership is already illegal nationwide, and unions must still represent nonmembers under collective bargaining agreements. Right-to-work laws actually allow workers to receive these union benefits without having to pay fees.
The segment also featured footage of Harlow interviewing Gov. Snyder, who said, "I think we'll see thousands of jobs coming to Michigan." After the footage aired, Harlow stated that while union members typically earn higher wages than nonmembers, Michigan will be "more competitive for businesses to come in" if wages are lower because of the right-to-work law.
Harlow's claim is contradicted by economic research that says right-to-work laws have little impact on employment or economic growth.
Later in the segment, Banfield asked CNN contributor John Avlon to explain the difference between the labor protests in Michigan and those in Wisconsin last year. Avlon said the difference is that "Wisconsin was all about public-sector unions" and Republicans' push to eliminate collective bargaining for most government employees there. Avlon added, "There is a world of difference" in Michigan, "which is about right-to-work for private-sector unions."
But Avlon is wrong: The right-to-work legislation in Michigan affects private-sector workers and public-sector workers. The AP reported that the Michigan Legislature approved two bills: "One measure dealt with private-sector workers, the other with government employees. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed them both within hours."
From the July 31 edition of CNN's American Morning:
From the July 20 edition of CNN's Campbell Brown:
On Fox & Friends, former New York Sun columnist John Avlon discussed Jimmy Carter's planned meeting with a Hamas leader and claimed: "[T]his is going to really resurrect some of the old ghosts and bring [Sen. Barack] Obama's attitude of negotiating with all our enemies under further scrutiny." In fact, Obama has reportedly stated that his willingness to meet with international adversaries "does not include Hamas."