Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Mac’s Off Cap-and-Trade

After writing favorably about Sen. McCain’s recent economics speeches, where he clearly shifted toward the supply-side both on tax cuts and producing more energy, I went back last evening and carefully read his 15-page policy pamphlet called “Jobs for America.” Here’s what I found: There is no mention of cap-and-trade. None. Nada. There is a section about “Cheap, Clean, Secure Energy for America: The Lexington Project.” But that talks about expanded domestic production of oil and gas, as well as the need for more nuclear power and coal along with alternative sources. Then it has the $300 million battery and flex-fuel cars. But nope, no cap-and-trade.

So I picked up the phone and dialed a senior McCain official to make sure these old eyes hadn’t missed it. Sure enough, on deep background, this senior McCain advisor told me I was correct: no cap-and-trade. In other words, this central-planning, regulatory, tax-and-spend disaster, which did not appear in Mac’s two recent speeches, has been eradicated entirely -- even from the detailed policy document that hardly anybody will ever read.

So then I asked this senior official if the campaign has taken cap-and-trade out behind the barn and shot it dead once and for all -- buried it in history’s dustbin of bad ideas. The answer came back that they are interested in jobs right now -- jobs for new energy production and jobs from lower taxes. At that point I became satisfied. Even though a McCain presidency might resurrect cap-and-trade, it will be a much different format. More important, the campaign is cognizant of the conservative rebellion against it.

That’s enough for me.

I might add that in this lengthy policy document there’s a strong statement about appreciating the value of the dollar. “John McCain’s policies will increase the value of the dollar and thus reduce the price of oil.”

This is good. It’s not perfect. Neither is McCain’s tax plan and new energy plan. But it is excellent progress. We’ll see if the next batch of polls shows any positive movement on the basis of McCain’s new pro-growth, supply-side approach. I notice today on the Intrade pay-to-play prediction market that McCain is up almost a full percentage point. That’s good, except he’s still way down, 65 to 31. However, the national average on RealClearPolitics shows a tightening to just over 5 percentage points, 48.2 to 43.0.

If Steve Schmidt had anything to do with McCain’s nouveau supply-side economics, good for him.