Maybe it’s because he is still feeling his way as a late entrant into the GOP presidential campaign, but Ohio Gov. John Kasich did a fairly dramatic about-face over the weekend on the politically charged issue of climate change.
Kasich, a former House Budget Committee chair and Wall Street business executive, has positioned himself as a “kinder, gentler” conservative than Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and the dozen other Republicans running for the 2016 presidential nomination. So it wasn’t surprising that he would take a more moderate stand on global warming during the first nationally televised GOP presidential debate Thursday evening.
Kasich, a devout Christian, declared during the two-hour debate sponsored by Fox News that climate change is a real problem requiring government and society to protect the “creation that the Lord has given us.”
While the vast majority of Republicans on Capitol Hill and the campaign trail are highly skeptical of President Obama’s campaign to curb industrial carbon emissions to prevent the disastrous long term effects of global warming on the environment and economy, Kasich appeared to be one of the few who took the threat seriously.
He emphasized the importance of unity and cooperation, saying at one point that “we’ve got to unite our country again, because we’re stronger when we are united and we are weaker when we are divided.”
Just a few days later, though, after winning plaudits for his Thursday night performance – with some even favorably comparing his views on environmental threats to those of Pope Francis – Kasich sounded much like a climate-change doubter.
During an appearance on NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” Kasich told moderator Chuck Todd that “I think man absolutely affects the environment, but as to whether, you know, what the impact is, the overall impact, I think that’s a legitimate debate.”
Kasich went on to say that in Ohio, “we preciously take care of Lake Erie, and we’ve reduced emissions by 30 percent over the last ten years.”
“We believe in alternative energy,” he added. “So of course we have to be sensitive to it, but we don’t want to destroy people’s jobs, based on some theory that’s not proven.”
According to National Journal, the Kasich 2016 campaign attempted to clarify his remarks following his appearance on “Meet the Press.” "The governor has long believed climate change is real and we need to do something about it,” according to the statement. “The debate over exact percentages of why it is happening is less important than what can be done about it. We know it is real, we know man has an impact, and we know we need to do something."
A number of prominent presidential candidates -- including former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul -- are climate change doubters or deniers. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is one of the few who unquestionably accepts scientific evidence that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are a principal cause of global warming, and has sharply criticized his party for lacking a comprehensive environmental platform.
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The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated this week that President Trump has now signed legislation that will add a total of $4.7 trillion to the national debt between 2017 and 2029. Tax cuts and spending increases account for similar portions of the projected increase, though if the individual tax cuts in the 2017 Republican overhaul are extended beyond their current expiration date at the end of 2025, they would add another $1 trillion in debt through 2029.
Are interest rates destined to move higher, increasing the cost of private and public debt? While many experts believe that higher rates are all but inevitable, historian Paul Schmelzing argues that today’s low-interest environment is consistent with a long-term trend stretching back 600 years.
The chart “shows a clear historical downtrend, with rates falling about 1% every 60 years to near zero today,” says Bloomberg’s Aaron Brown. “Rates do tend to revert to a mean, but that mean seems to be declining.”
Lawmakers are considering three separate bills that are intended to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Here’s an overview of the proposals, from a series of charts produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation this week. An interesting detail highlighted in another chart: 88% of voters – including 92% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans – want to give the government the power to negotiate prices with drug companies.
From Gallup: “A record 25% of Americans say they or a family member put off treatment for a serious medical condition in the past year because of the cost, up from 19% a year ago and the highest in Gallup's trend. Another 8% said they or a family member put off treatment for a less serious condition, bringing the total percentage of households delaying care due to costs to 33%, tying the high from 2014.”