The Obama administration has a habit of waiting until late on Friday to release news it believes to be unpopular. Such was the case last Friday when White House spokesman Robert Gibbs put out a statement announcing that President Barack Obama was changing the date of his visit to the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen from Dec. 9 to Dec. 18 -- when a deal on a climate-change treaty is more likely to be announced -- and that the president is now promising to hand out billions in new foreign aid.
Gibbs said Obama decided on the new foreign aid program after discussing it with the leaders of Australia, Germany, France and Britain.
"This week, the president discussed the status of the negotiations with Prime Minister Rudd, Chancellor Merkel, President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Brown, and concluded that there appears to be an emerging consensus that a core element of the Copenhagen accord should be to mobilize $10 billion a year by 2012 to support adaptation and mitigation in developing countries, particularly the most vulnerable and least developed countries that could be destabilized by the impacts of climate change," said Gibbs. "The United States will pay its fair share of that amount, and other countries will make substantial commitments as well."
Gibbs also said this $10 billion per year in new foreign aid of which the U.S. would pay a share was only the beginning of what the administration hoped would be a new and permanent stream for channeling U.S. tax dollars overseas.
"In Copenhagen, we also need to address the need for financing in the longer term to support adaptation and mitigation in developing countries," Gibbs stated. "Providing this assistance is not only a humanitarian imperative -- it's an investment in our common security, as no climate change accord can succeed if it does not help all countries reduce their emissions."
Before announcing this new foreign aid plan, the White House had revealed that Obama would tell the climate conference that by 2020 the United States would cap its carbon emissions at 17 percent below 2005 levels.
Why would Obama vow to impose carbon caps on U.S. industries -- a move certain to drive some industries overseas and kill manufacturing jobs here -- when the United States is just emerging from a deep recession and still faces a 10 percent unemployment rate, and when Obama himself is trying to persuade Americans his policies will create jobs?