GOP: Climate Is A Dirty Word

The other day, I was doing the “housewife” thing–which included cleaning bathroom toilets–and because I am a nerd of the first order, the sight of soapy water swirling down the drain made me think of the GOP.

When “Republican” was the name of a political party that had a policy agenda, a major part of that agenda was protection of the free market and a pretty sustained pushback over government ‘s business regulations. (Barry Goldwater famously proclaimed that government didn’t belong in either your boardroom or your bedroom…but of course, Barry is now considered a RINO.)

Most GOP lawmakers acknowledged the need for government regulations that were necessary to provide an economic “level playing field”–the sorts of regulations meant to prevent unfair business practices, corruption and collusion, and/or harm to the public. The policy arguments focused on the extent and necessity of those rules– matters about which people could have good-faith disagreements.

Those were the good old days!

Axios recently reported on the GOP’s eagerness to tell private businesses what they can and cannot do, and their preferred rules have absolutely nothing to do with bad behavior by their targets. Quite the contrary.

Republicans in Congress have teed up the first veto of the Biden presidency. Curiously, the vetoed bill has nothing to do with children’s books, unisex bathrooms, or even fiscal policy. Instead, it focuses on stock-market asset allocation.

Why it matters: The environmentally conscious global consensus of institutional investors is highly unlikely to be derailed by U.S. political point-scoring. But no good can come from the way in which investment officers increasingly need to navigate a political gantlet.

Driving the news: Both the House and the Senate this week passed legislation overturning a Labor Department rule designed to ensure that fund managers remain capable of considering environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors when making investments.

The aim of the bill was not to change the law — a veto was always certain — but rather to create a 2024 campaign issue. Politicians like Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, characterize the Department of Labor rule as creating “regulations to invest retirement money in far-left liberal causes.” That’s false — the rule mandates nothing at all — but Republicans are hoping it might prove an effective attack vector all the same.

The article quotes an NYU law professor–an expert on environmental law– opining that the  bill “has to be the ne plus ultra of hysterical overreaction to any policy with the word climate in it.”

As the Axios report notes, the GOP is politicizing a “decidedly anodyne” Department of Labor rule that is, in fact, a “laissez-faire attempt to reiterate that investors are free to follow any investment thesis they like.” In other words, a rule aiming to strengthen what used to be Republican orthodoxy.

Climate change is probably the biggest risk facing global markets over the long term. Investors therefore have a clear financial incentive to invest in the companies that are best placed to mitigate or adapt to climate risk, as a way of maximizing their own long-term returns.

There is always a fiduciary reason for ESG investments, but a Trump-era rule tried to discourage such strategies anyway. Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute were unenthusiastic about the Trump administration’s stance.

The Department of Labor rule the current bill tries to overturn was written to make it clear that investors don’t need to fear the potential ire of regulatory agencies when they adopt ESG investment frameworks.

It bears emphasizing that the rule the GOP wants to overturn amounts to a promise that, if your business wants to take climate risk into account, government won’t punish you for doing so.

But today’s Republicans insist that concern for climate is a “far left” marker. Today’s GOP has totally abandoned its previous respect for private enterprise and limitations on  legislative authority. The party used to be animated by the libertarian principle that government should be limited to protecting citizens against harm. Americans can and do differ about the nature of the harms that justify government intervention, but things like caring about the environment, reading the “wrong” books, or loving the “wrong” people, were not (at least officially) among them.

Some of this anti-climate fervor reflects the worries of fossil fuel companies, of course, and those companies are big donors to the GOP lawmakers driving this exercise.  Still, we shouldn’t dismiss the political motives behind this propaganda. As the Axios article notes, Republicans are trying to reach swing voters by labeling anything climate-conscious as being part of a far-left agenda.

If recognition of climate change is “leftist,” my belief that words have fixed meanings is  swirling like the water around the drain in my toilet…


  1. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is moving forward. For example, they are perfecting Hydrogen fuel production, distribution and use in place of fossil fuels. But here in ‘Merka’ we are stuck with the dumb ass party attempting to roll back time and reality. The world will pass us by if we let the dumb ass party stay in power.

  2. “Climate change is probably the biggest risk facing global markets over the long term.”

    Lawmakers who deny the reality of the threat of climate change, and refuse to act accordingly in order to garner votes and stir up their base either don’t know this, or they know and just don’t care. Since there is plenty of scientific evidence to support the danger ahead, the conclusion is that they just don’t care.

  3. Swirling water in Sheila’s clean toilet doesn’t make me think of the GOP; more fitting is a two-holer outhouse sitting over the piling up defecation and the rising smell. AES, formerly IPL which was known as the biggest pollution source in the state, is in the process of installing new meters in every home in the city, at no cost to the customers. (Being deaf I have the advantage of that claim in writing from the technician who installed my new meter.) They claim customers will benefit by a 4% savings on power bills due to requiring less energy to operate; will this change the pollution levels formerly emitted from using the old meters?

    Another change, which I am currently dealing with, is the changes in Spectrum and AT&T Internet and cable TV services. They now ship all equipment by USPS or UPS to your home, with an “easy to follow” book of instructions to connect and set up the service yourself. Last October I switched to AT&T Internet with DIrectTV Stream (which they claim is their former AT&T cable service but is NOT); the cable box plugs directly into the electrical outlet NOT the cable formerly used by both Spectrum and AT&T. How does this effect the power used and emissions from power companies which cause the high levels of pollution? And…where have all the cable guys gone? And how does this effect the joblessness numbers nationally? There is also the connection to the FCC with President Biden’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) for aid with Internet bills which is part of his infrastructure bill. Where does the GOP figure into this plot to force people to Do It Yourself (DIY) to install and set up electronic devices with no knowledge of electronics, to increase profit levels of Internet and cable companies?

  4. JoAnn, my Verizon bill will increase $2 to pay for more or less already crappy service.
    And where have the malls gone?
    More and more stand alone stores that require driving a vehicle to access.
    Like Vernon, I am glad I am old.

  5. Una,

    The malls and other retail outlets are going away because people are shopping on-line and not having to drive. Plus, you have people not having to commute because they can, and often do, work from home. I think these are trends we should celebrate.

  6. Paul; after almost 3 years, AT&T has ordered their at-home workers back into the office. My grandson-in-law is now doing little work from home and more requiring him to be in the office. The at-home trend may be ending; maybe a return to better quality service from businesses which will be a real reason to celebrate.

  7. It does make me feel somewhat better that the Dems aren’t just being passive bystanders to most of the right’s bs. I do think they need to get a bit louder about it, but I take a measure of comfort after the first few days of the Weaponization Committee’s hearings.

  8. Politics is short-term and present-oriented. What have voters done for us politicians lately? Governance is long-term and future-oriented. What have politicians done for us voters lately?

    Democrats and Biden govern. Republicans and McCarthy run for office by means of propaganda.

    ‘Nuff said.

  9. One big lie after another. The liars succeed when people refuse to accept the possibility that their established beliefs may be wrong. And as more and more lies pile up those people become more and more detached from reality. But reality isn’t changed by lies and the longer it is ignored and denied the more devastating it becomes when the lies finally fall apart. And so here we are, once again facing global devastation. It’s drama, dark comedy and horror movie all wrapped into one. The ending is not yet written and the human species has a good track record of survival so I still have hope.

  10. For the best example of a government gone totally insane in its efforts to avoid any and all truth of its situation, may I give you Florida. There Governor DeSantis does not address, much less acknowledge, the following: flooding from the rising sea level and more intense hurricanes.
    The sea is eating away the beaches and flooding the streets of costal cities with every tide. The damage from last summer’s hurricane will not be repaired for at least a decade. What happens this coming summer? No, the big problem for Republicans down in the Sunshine State is wokeness. Wokeness for Pete’s sake! And their leader wants to be President of the United States!

  11. seems it reads as you cant boycott the issue of climate change. if pension funds are privatly held in contract to a investment fund,is the investor allowed to say,no climate issue investments? this bill i guess,would remove the contractual use of those funds by the investment firm,by the holder of those funds. lop sided tester and manchin seem to feel that trust in investments isnt a issue. i get testors news letter,since he resides next door, hes a farmer/rancher who has money/land and influence to delay issues to his own beniit.dino here bud. like some issues in America,we are led to believe now boycotting os dead. since most goods are now owned by a few corps. we lost billions in retirment and pensions funds every time theres a wall street greed issue. that money didnt burn up in some hole,it was gathered by those who had contractual power to use them,with little to no regard for loses.ponzi,scam,or fraud,someone got that money.. like the great real estate bust of 2008,its the typical citizen who got raped by wall street,and its come-on sales force.
    the republicans and many demos,shine like stars to those who have made it in the markets with enough money now to weather any storm now. but the working class doesnt see is,the living wage they never had,is in those very pockets and by those who make the laws and scams work..
    i trust the republicans and corp demos like a bald tire on a hot day on the highway..

  12. I hope the swing voters are smart enough to care about the environment and see right through the gop goal.

  13. Republican politicians are backing the views of their fossil fuel contributors in return for campaign contributions while ignoring the larger issue of a looming underwater Florida, or for, as the CEO of Fox puts it, acquisition of “the green irrespective of consequence.” When Wall Street is underwater who is in charge of such a catastrophe will matter not as the denizens of coastal areas flee to the Rockies and Appalachians in search of dry ground.

    The real disaster is that we know how to avoid the otherwise destruction of our water levels and relatively clean air but are making a conscious choice to do nothing about it since it might interfere with our first choice going forward, i.e., corporate America’s distribution of dividends to shareholders, corporate stock buybacks, and enhanced executive compensation by the fossil fuel and other anti-environmental businesses.

    Perhaps we need a change of basic system within which to operate since our mentalities undergirding capitalism present (speaking of environments) such a suicidal future for asset-gatherers and peasants alike – and the clock is ticking.

  14. Those lawmakers simply do not care. As evidence, of a sort, have you ever heard of a GOPPIGGIE apologizing
    for having been wrong about acid rain, global warming…actually, anything, for that matter?
    Sharon, you have that right.
    As does Jack. DeSantis, like the rest of his Ill ilk, gives not a hoot for governing, and the Florididia legislative
    Session, that began yesterday (for 60 days) will be a doozy!
    These jackasses will probably make Indiana’s infamous group look sweet and nice.
    I am reading “WACO,” by Jeff Guinn, and seeing the cost of living in a delusional worldview, like QAnon/MAGA,
    In detail.
    There used to be concern voiced about the hold that the insurance industry had on the OLD GOP, now the
    hold is that of the fossil fuel guys, although none of their (paid?) sycophants are bringing snowballs to congress

  15. Generally, the GOP has no platform or policy ideas. They do, however, actively fight AGAINST things. See wokeness, LGBTQ rights, public education, unions/worker rights, etc. Or, in this case, see regulation. They will fight ANY regulation, even if they know it to be beneficial (and even if it’s beneficial specifically to them), just to avoid the precedent, the “slippery slope”. They will never be willing to participate in “good-faith discussions” about regulation. (See the refusal to adopt a regulation to employ safer train brakes, for example.) The fight against climate change relates, as it is handled primarily via regulation. Demonizing climate change helps the anti-regulation agenda.

    P.S. I did not know it was “gantlet”. I’ve learned something today. Thanks. 🙂

  16. Climate change is real. How do we live with it is the question
    A study from italian scientists say that nothing with the weather points to a radical change even recently to warrent upending economies. Ecomies in full swing that are geared to overcoming climate change are going to make that change more rapidly.!
    For centuries tge seas have been rising apparently. Land bridges once used by those immigrating are now covered up by water. Two evidences are from Russia to Alaska and England to Ireland.
    National Geographic study shows that some if the most active volcanoes put iut more CO2 in one week than all the traffic in one year. So how do we deal with transforming to a green economy without destroying economies and destroying peoples livlihoods is of utmost importance

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