In his town-hall meeting last Wednesday night, Edwards sang the refrain he has made the core of his big-government populist campaign: Big-business controls Washington and blocks crucial regulations and welfare programs, and John Edwards is the only man who can take it on. And the crowd loved it.
For all the free passes Barack Obama has received from the media, he's never gotten away with being as demonstrably wrong on the facts as John Edwards is nearly every time he sounds this theme. The truth of the matter is an awkward one for Edwards and his fans: the very big businesses they vilify support the very big-government policies they advocate.
In Thursday's debates, when asked about federal curbs on greenhouse gases to battle global warming, Edwards said: "first of all, we need to recognize what the obstacles are to the change that everyone believes is necessary. And the obstacles are oil companies, power companies, all those entrenched interests that stand between America and the change that it needs."
Democrats in the crowd nodded their heads at this, and reporters in the press room didn't bat an eye. That sounds natural to them: big oil and big energy oppose regulation of fuel and power, right?
Well, not Duke Energy whose CEO, Paul Anderson, has been calling for a tax on carbon dioxide for nearly three years.
Is there any more "entrenched interest" than General Electric, which every year since 1998 has spent more on lobbying than any other company in America? Hardly an "obstacle" to Edwards's favored policies, GE's Jeff Immelt on January 22, 2007, joined CEOs from Alcoa, DuPont, and other corporate titans to call for federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.
And oh yeah, one former big power company (the biggest in the world, at the time), lobbied two White Houses for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, pointing out in one e-mail, "This agreement will be good for Enron stock!" I could go on, but you get the point.
The same is true of health care. Edwards said Thursday that "corporate power and greed have literally taken over the government, and we need a president who's willing to take these powers on. It is the only way we're going to . have universal health care." Well, you could take them on, but that hardly seems necessary considering that many of the biggest corporations are firmly behind the big government health care plans that Edwards and the Democrats are offering.
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