One durable Republican staple is the alleged commitment to "small government." I've heard this repeatedly during the GOP presidential debates. The candidates declare that the feds should butt out, that "one size fits all" policies enacted by Washington would burden the states. On everything from guns to abortion, the GOP politicians say that states should be allowed to come up with solutions that reflect the will of their own people. This is supposed to be a cornerstone of the conservative ethos.In general, the GOP is for states' rights -- but not when it comes to air pollutants. When it comes to spewing such toxins into our atmosphere, apparently what various states wish to do is considered a no-no. Unlike gay rights or abortion laws, when it comes to the air we breathe, this administration has decided to defy the efforts of individual states to bypass the inaction of the federal ("large") government. No, in this case Republicans side with big government because it sides with industry, plain and simple.
But it's really just pap for the stump. In reality, and for a fresh insight into contemporary Republican hypocrisy, let us behold (yet again) the Bush administration in action.
A couple days ago, the Bush team - acting through the Environmental Protection Agency, in violation of the law that created the EPA, and in defiance of federal court rulings - decreed that the state of California, and 16 other states, would not be permitted to act on their own to reduce global warming emissions from automobiles. The EPA explained that it favors a "national solution" (i.e. one size fits all), over what it calls "a confusing patchwork of state rules."
The catch, of course, is that the EPA - once considered a protector of the environment, before the Bush team go ahold of it - has no interest in a "national solution" to cut the carbon-dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. The Bush EPA fought the idea for years, claiming that the 1970 Clean Air Act failed to specify carbon dioxide as a pollutant. They haven't budged in that belief, even though, back on April 2 of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the '70 law gave the Bush EPA plenty of authority to regulate those emissions.
There's another key feature of that '70 law (which created the EPA, and which was signed by Republican President Richard Nixon): It allows states to set their own clean air standards in the absence of federal action, as long as the feds give their permission in the form of waivers. Over the past four decades, California has sought 50 waivers from the feds, and it has received 50 waivers. Until now. The EPA administrator’s Wednesday ruling overrode the advice of his own legal staff.
Nothing here is shocking. The GOP only wants small government when it fits their political agenda, meaning when it doesn't work against corporate America and their big donors. But never believe that BS line about starving the beast; the GOP did a pretty good job of fattening said beast over the last few years.