The right has been very busily attempting to deconstruct the image of green business, with candidates like Rick Perry painting environmental protections as harmful to job creation. Then, Barack Obama appeared to have caved to demands from conservatives on the EPA, ordering a halt to tighter smog restrictions which would have improved the air quality of millions of Americans (and saved who knows how much in health care costs).
Nobel prizewinning economist Paul Krugman has lambasted the decision, stating that stricter EPA regulations would actually have stimulated the economy and driven job creation:
And now you can see why tighter ozone regulation would actually have created jobs: it would have forced firms to spend on upgrading or replacing equipment, helping to boost demand. Yes, it would have cost money — but that’s the point! And with corporations sitting on lots of idle cash, the money spent would not, to any significant extent, come at the expense of other investment.
More broadly, if you’re going to do environmental investments — things that are worth doing even in flush times — it’s hard to think of a better time to do them than when the resources needed to make those investments would otherwise have been idle.But now, finally, the White House has completely lost its mind, with one spokesperson comparing environmental movement's claims to GOP insanity and calling its point of view "silly":
Finding a middle ground is difficult, especially in the midst of heated political wrangling over how to cope with the sputtering economy. Businesses are focusing almost entirely on the costs. Environmental groups, meanwhile, tally up the benefits without paying much heed to the costs.
“My view is that the Republican claim that ‘job-killing regulation’ is a redundancy is as ridiculous as the left-wing view that ‘job-killing regulation’ is an oxymoron,” said Cass Sunstein, head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. “Both are silly political claims that have no place in a serious discussion.”This is, to be quite frank, shocking. At this point, who does Barack Obama think is going to campaign for him? He's drawn the ire of the LGBTs, infuriated economists and social program advocates, and is now foolishly alienating the enviro movement. 2012 is looking bleaker than ever.