Representative Tom Perriello (D-VA-5) was one of the first candidates to make the Energy Smart list. Today, not for the first time, he provided a clear statement as to why he merited and continues to merit a prominent position in the ‘must support’ list for anyone concerned about fostering a prosperous and secure America future.
Interviewed by David Roberts, Grist, Perriello spoke strongly about the imperative for better energy policy, including the necessity of putting a price on carbon. While too many in the Commonwealth are flaunting their anti-science syndrome credentials, Perriello is speaking forthrightly and directly. His narrow victory in 2008 has him in the Republican cross hairs for defeat this November but Perriello doesn’t speak directly — he speaks with great integrity and from principle. That characteristic, of having the courage of convictions and being able to speak coherently about them, goes a long way with voters who might disagree in a specific case but who respect a clear-speaking politician with principles.
From the interview:
Perriello strongly defended his vote in favor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, emphasizing the importance of putting a financial price on carbon, stating directly that those burying their hands in the sand are putting America (and Americans) at risk
I would vote for any aggressive energy-independence effort. This is the challenge of our time—the jobs opportunity, the national security challenge, the scientific challenge of our era. Any plan that uses market forces to signal a carbon-constrained environment is going to move us in the right direction. People who don’t support this kind of aggressive energy independence are just selling Americans short.
What is interesting is that Perriello seems open to something like the CLEAR Act (a Cap/Trade plus Dividend) since “always preferred a tax shift with a major reimbursement on payroll taxes,” but his priority is “a way to get to 218 [votes] on a victory for America’s energy independence and national security”.
Perriello was directly dismissive of Senate inaction (with, literally, 100s of passed House items awaiting action in the Senate). And, he used the sort of direct words (words that light the passion of many in the Tea Bag movement who seem, truly, to want Washington to work on solutions — or get out of the way) that politicians too rarely use.
If we were going to wait for the Senate to do anything, we would do nothing. This stuff should have been done 10 to 20 years ago. We’re so far behind China, Europe, and other areas in the energy jobs of the future because neither party has had the guts to take this on. There are so many spineless people in D.C. To me, the new politics—“change we can believe in” —was about starting with what would solve our problems, not what would get us reelected. Whether you do it early or late is not the issue. The issue is, is this going to make America more competitive and safer? I think it will.
The American people respect results: they want jobs, they want the country to be safer. The House has produced a historic agenda in that regard, and the Senate hasn’t. But it’s not about pointing fingers; it’s about getting it done. …
I’m sick of starting with what can we get through the Senate; let’s start with what solves the damn problem. Until the Senate gets its head out of its rear-end and starts to see the crisis we’re in, our country is literally at risk.
Perriello highlighted the importance of providing a structure that business can work with, highlighting that investors and businessmen “need predictability” in government policy to foster investment and innovation.
Every week the Senate doesn’t act, it either freezes that investment and innovation or it sends it overseas. We’re giving up jobs. The Senate—the ridiculous tactics of the Republicans and the timidity of the Democrats—is standing in the way of the kind of job creation we need.
Tom spoke to problems in our political system. For example, about some of his Republican colleagues:
Keep in mind that cap-and-trade is a Republican idea. It was a good idea when the Republicans came up with it and it continues to be when Democrats support it. It’s a good idea because it uses capitalism to solve a core problem. When Republicans are honest with themselves—many of them come up to me and say, “Look, I’d love to support it, I know this is the right approach, but if I do this I’ll have a primary challenger tomorrow.” That’s not conviction politics. That’s spinelessness. There’s a lot of posturing that goes on up here.
About the difference between a 30 minute and 30 second discussion.
Unfortunately, good ideas, ideas that could save our country, sometimes take 30 minutes to explain and only 30 seconds to demagogue. In between those two things is leadership, and we haven’t had the moral courage to take this on.
Tom has a simple question that he sees at the core of what should drive policy discussion:
Does this solve the problem? Is this a solution worthy of the American people? And if it is, then great; let’s move forward with it.
Head over and read the whole interview. It is worth your time.
If this is the sort of voice, the sort of leader you would like to see in the US Congress, consider sending a href=”http://www.actblue.com/page/energysmart”>Energy Smart Tom some support.