Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why I Worry About Michele Bachmann's Call to Abolish EPA

In some senses, it is tempting to write off Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign.  After all, despite the controversy it caused, many watching on the sidelines would agree with the gist of Chris Wallace’s recent question to Michele Bachmann, “Are you a flake?”  Furthermore, regardless of what one thinks of her, it is hard to deny that her chances of becoming the next president seem quite low.  (If you disagree with this assessment, you can currently get roughly 8 to 1 odds with the political futures market on the prospect of her becoming president in 2012.)   

Because of this, it may also be easy to brush aside the fact that as a presidential candidate, she has repeatedly called for the abolition of EPA.  In a June 13 debate in New Hampshire, for example, Bachmann called for “mother of all repeal bills” that would target “job-killing regulations.”  She went on to clarify, “And I would begin with the EPA, because there is no other agency like the EPA. It should really be renamed the job-killing organization of America.”  This past week, she returned to that theme in an interview with the Associated Press.   

Even though it may be tempting to do so, I believe ignoring her calls to abolish the agency is a mistake.  While I do not believe she will be our next president, I think her voice is important in the ongoing debate surrounding EPA.  Does that mean I think EPA's days are numbered?  Absolutely not.  However, I do believe that the rhetoric coming out of her campaign is particularly important for candidates courting the support of the Tea Party and is likely to be mimicked by them.  Her calls to end EPA are likely to echo in one way or another through the halls of Congress and in nominating conventions all over the country.  I worry that the power of her words will become manifest in increased efforts to slash EPA's budget, cut away its authority, and water down its policies.  

So, regardless of whether you think Michele Bachmann's campaign will falter, I believe it is a mistake not take the potential impact of her words seriously--even if she slips up and confuses the serial killer John Wayne Gacy with John Wayne the movie star.  

-- Brigham Daniels

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