The Left has advantages with messaging the Right never will. It has a lot of celebrities who eagerly step in front of the camera and read a few talking points, without knowing or caring about what those talkers really mean long term.
Martin Sheen: He's not the president, but he played one on TV. When he's not clearly reading lines off a cue card, sometimes he's an actor too.
Those same celebrities are busy too — that's part of being a public figure — so they probably shouldn't be expected to know exactly what's put in front of them. (They pay people to do that.) But while celebrity stooges can get a pass, other public figures don't.
The elected officials and nonprofit leaders who continue repeating the same dogma about the Right "denying science" don't deserve the same indulgence. From keeping their constituents stuck in the welfare state — like many programs do — to exposing people to harmful pollution to help their crony friends, the Left is very divided on what it does and what it tells you to do.
The true motivations of the false claims need to be exposed: cronyism.
Take for instance an issue that I have written about before: West Lake Landfill. West Lake Landfill was deemed a Superfund site in the 1990s — radioactive materials from the Manhattan Project were illegally dumped there – and put under the direction of the EPA. However, the Left — unions, politicians, and advocacy groups – has been pushing back at almost every stage against the EPA and, once the agency finalized plans to secure the site, the Left went nuclear.
The Left has asked for the U.N. to intervene, it has ignored the scientific reports, and it asked the Army Corps of Engineers to take over this environmental issue — from the agency in charge of the environment.
Why would some on the Left push for this change? It's fairly easy to understand. Union jobs, expensive contracts, and the Left's friends (government bureaucrats) get to decide who gets those expensive contracts.
On the other hand, under the EPA's plan, the owner of the site would pay for the EPA-designated fixes and therefore hire the workers. (Follow the money.) More importantly, recently exposed from some released documents from the EPA was this fun fact: The crony money and jobs that the Left is seeking would come at the increased risk of the people that would fill those jobs. The main takeaway from the 2,000-page report: The current EPA plan provides substantially lower risk than the potential short-term risks associated with fully or even partially removing the materials in every risk category that they evaluated.
In fact, while the EPA's current plan is within what the EPA would consider generally acceptable risk ranges, there is no way around the fact that radioactive materials are risky. The other two options they examined would not only pose a potentially higher threat to the community, but the workers at the site would face a risk that is, according to the report, an "order of magnitude" greater than the EPA would normally accept.
It isn't just the environment, though. The Left also likes to portray itself as the savior of the poor. However, almost every policy it pursues in the name of helping the poor hurts the poor by either making it harder for the poor to buy a house, harder for the poor to make it into the middle class, or even harder for the poor to continue working.
For instance, when you hear the Left talk about welfare, it sounds like the Left expects the poor to worship it. But because of the way payments are phased out, low-wage workers can face marginal tax rates as high as 95 percent. At that type of tax rate working an extra hour to "get out of poverty" isn't really an option. The problem is that as low-wage workers start earning more money, they also start losing benefits. The Left might be forgiven for some of this, but when it attacks policies that could actually help the poor, all forgiveness should be revoked.
Recently, this is best seen in President Trump's tax proposal. In the proposal, the removal of state and local tax deductions has drawn the loud hollers of the Left. However, this plan helps to ensure that poor people aren't subsidizing rich people at the federal level. State and local tax deductions force poor people to help subsidize the rich and, in particular, it forces them to support rich people in high-tax states which also tend to lean-left, such as California and New York.
The net effect of the current state and local tax deduction is an incentive for higher state taxes, which increase the marginal tax rate described above. However, it is even worse if a poor person is living in a low-tax state, because if a state doesn't raise their taxes, then the tax money from their state goes to subsidize the rich people of another state. The loser in all of this is the poor people.
It can feel good to come out and fight for the environment or poor people. I personally want the best for both and I routinely fight for policies to help. However, we need to pay attention to the numbers, the science, and the professionals when making decisions about the best way forward.
It probably isn't the best idea to listen to the same people who will read almost anything put in front of them for money. I'm talking about actors, not politicians … but you're excused if you thought differently.
Charles Sauer (@CharlesSauer) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is president of the Market Institute and previously worked on Capitol Hill, for a governor, and for an academic think tank.
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