The Associated Press published an odd claim this week, telling readers that congressional Republicans are "focusing on the No. 1 concern for all voters: jobs and the economy." This was presented as fact in a news piece, not an opinion column.
The AP's claim was also demonstrably untrue. The congressional GOP tends to focus on just about everything except jobs and the economy, as evidenced by yet another anti-abortion vote last week, and another vote on light-bulb standards this week.
The House approved two amendments to a 2013 spending bill late Tuesday night that would prohibit the government from enforcing federal light bulb standards that Republicans say are too intrusive.In a voice vote, the House approved an amendment to the Energy and Water spending bill for 2013 that would prevent the Department of Energy from spending money to enforce a 2007 law that sets bulb efficiency standards.
On the House floor, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), the sponsor of the measure, argued, "We shouldn't be making these decisions for the American people."
In 2007, the light-bulb provisions of an energy bill weren't considered controversial in the slightest. At the time, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and congressional Democrats worked together on the larger legislative package, which included advanced light-bulb standards, intended to spur innovation, lower costs, and improve energy efficiency.
The provision was approved with bipartisan support, and the larger bill was easily passed and signed by President Bush. Best of all, the advanced light-bulb standards have worked beautifully, and we've seen exactly the kind of innovation the bill intended to create.
So, it's a success story, right? Well, yes, in every way except the political one.
As the Republican Party became increasingly radicalized, GOP policymakers began looking at the bipartisan energy bill as an authoritarian scourge that sought to take away Americans' light bulbs. It's led to legislative measures like the one we saw on Tuesday.
Rush Limbaugh and other leading Republicans are enthusiastic backers of these efforts -- even Mitt Romney, who presumably knows better than to fall for this garbage, is parroting right-wing talking points -- arguing that Bush's 2007 energy bill "bans" traditional incandescent bulbs, which in turn takes away consumers' choices.
For the umpteenth time, there is no "ban." Democrats and Republicans simply agreed to make light bulbs more energy efficient, and their efforts are working.
But GOP lawmakers, at least in 2012, don't care, and want to undo the effective reforms, which in turn would waste more energy, cost consumers more money, and even undermine the marketplace. These consequences don't matter, however, because this isn't about facts or public policy -- it's about some amorphous concept of "freedom" that only conservatives understand.