The lifecycle of Cap and Trade was much the same. The global warming legislation was blatantly anti-free market and anti-business. Yet high favorability with the public pushed many Republicans – not wanting to seem unreasonable – to once again forget their principles and openly support the law. They told themselves that with Democrats in control of both the House and Senate, it was just too risky for anyone to stand in the way of their global warming ideology.
To their credit, the vast majority of Republican House and Senate members, backed and encouraged by groups like Americans for Prosperity, stood on principle and opposed the president's Stimulus and cap and trade even – ignoring the supposedly sage political advice of many Beltway pundits. They consistently and clearly articulated the free market position, exposed the truth about the stimulus and policies like Cap and Trade, and took the free-market message to the American people with bus tours and rallies in every state. What happened next was the greatest conservative resurgence in modern history, as the public overwhelmingly rejected bad fiscal policy and took back the House from Democrats the following year. It’s telling that few in Congress today boast about their support for Cap and Trade or the Obama stimulus.
When the dust settled, those leaders who had stood against overspending and over regulation had strengthened their position and gained influence by following the long-term political strategy of putting sound policy first. Many of those who bent to the whims of pollsters and pundits were fired by the American people.
Conservatives fought the Stimulus bill and Cap and Trade because they were a clear violation of core principles. Today, the truth about overspending is just as real as it was in 2009. Republicans know that taxing Americans will never solve a crisis created by wasteful spending. So before you believe the political strategists and evening anchors who say that conservatives need to give in, remember that they said the same thing about those who stood against bad policy in 2009.
They were proven wrong then. They will be proven wrong now. For their sake, and our nation's sake, let's hope congressional Republicans remember.