Kerpen: GOP Can’t Appease the Left By Caving on Key Issues (column)
July 29, 2018
Two House Republicans have chosen to capitulate on major agenda items on the liberal left — and are learning a familiar lesson the hard way.
One, Colorado's Mike Coffman, has signed onto Democratic efforts to reimpose President Obama's FCC order to tax and regulate the internet under the banner of net neutrality. The other, Florida's Carlos Curbelo, broke with his party by leading a tiny group of Republicans who voted against a resolution rejecting a carbon tax, and then went further by actually introducing his own carbon tax legislation. But rather than welcoming them as heroes, the left still wants to replace them with real Democrats.
Let's start with Coffman. For months, he indicated that he would oppose the Democratic efforts to use the Congressional Review Act to reimpose the Obama FCC's public utility internet order.
In February, Coffman expressly stated his opposition to the CRA: "The CRA is a non-starter for me as it defers again to agency rulemaking. This is Congress's job!"
At stake is whether the FCC will be allowed to manufacture for itself vast authority to regulate the internet and to establish the legal predicate for federal, state, and local taxes and fees to be applied to internet bills. Supporting the efforts of the current FCC to reverse that and go back to the successful free market approach that was in place until 2015 should be a no-brainer for Republicans.
Nonetheless, Coffman caved in to the PR efforts from the left completely when he came out on July 17 and announced that he had signed onto a discharge petition to bring the Democratic CRA he had previously called a "non-starter" to the House floor.
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The main liberal advocacy group that pushed the Obama order, Free Press, responded with an immediate email alert to its members attacking Coffman, saying "bills like the one Coffman introduced won't cut it."
Carlos Curbelo's carbon tax apostasy is a similar story. Last Congress, Curbelo voted for Republican Whip Steve Scalise's resolution condemning a carbon tax for being economically destructive; this Congress, Curbelo not only flipped his vote on the Scalise resolution but has introduced his own carbon tax act.
The Curbelo carbon tax would raise energy bills an average of $275 for every man, woman and child — $1,100 for a family of four — and that's according to the lowball estimate included with the bill's press release. Anyone who fails to comply would face a 300 percent penalty.The EPA would be given the power to expand the tax to new products and industries as a kind of Super IRS and a new national climate commission would be established and authorized to lavish spending on "experts and consultants."
For his own back-breaking flip-flop, Curbelo has received responses from the environmental left ranging from the NRDC's release saying the plan "still falls short" to Food and Water Watch's hyperbolic "New Carbon Tax Bill Shields Polluters, Pours Gasoline on Climate 'Fire.'"
While Coffman and Curbelo were perhaps expecting to be applauded by the liberal left for their capitulation, they are instead finding that liberal interest groups will always prefer a genuine Democrat to a counterfeit one.
As Dick Armey taught us: "When we act like us we win. When we act like them we lose."
Republicans watching these two cautionary tales should take note and avoid learning the hard way that political appeasement doesn't work.
Copyright 2018 Phil Kerpen, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Mr. Kerpen is the president of American Commitment and the author of "Democracy Denied." Kerpen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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